Today the Church celebrates the feast of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, also known as the "Little Flower". Here is her simple yet courageous story.
Patroness of the Missions
Marie Frances Thérèse Martin was born in France in 1873, the youngest of five daughters. She was a happy child who loved Jesus. Her beloved mother died of breast cancer when Therese was still a young child. A few months later, Therese became so ill with a fever that people thought she was dying. She asked the Virgin Mary, whose statue was in her room, to join her in praying to God for a cure. Thérèse saw Mary smile at her and suddenly she was healed. Later in life, Thérèse would say of Mary that she was “more Mother than Queen.”
When Thérèse was fifteen, she longed to join the Carmelite Order as two of her sisters had done before. However, she was too young. Thérèse made a pilgrimage with her beloved Papa to Rome, where she broke ranks to kneel before the Pope and boldly ask him to let her be a Carmelite nun. The Pope liked her at once, but said she must obey the bishop, who gave his permission a few months later, and Thérèse entered the convent.
Thérèse spent her life praying, sacrificing, and suffering to save souls and help priests. Her hidden sacrifice did indeed convert souls. Loving and trusting in God as a child was her “little way”. Her favorite saying was from Saint John of the Cross who said, “Love is repaid by love alone.”
Thérèse suffered the beginnings of tuberculosis during Holy Week of 1896. After months of suffering, she died September 30, 1897 at the age of 24, whispering, "My God, I love You!" Shortly before she died, Thérèse had written, “I will return. I want to spend my heaven doing good on earth.”
Her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, has been read and loved throughout the world. On October 17, 1997, St. Thérèse of Lisieux was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II.
As an interesting side note, Thérèse’s parents, Louis and Zelie Martin, were beatified—declared “Blessed”— by Pope Benedict at Lisieux, France, and were canonized by Pope Francis in 2015.
Submitted by guest blogger - Bart Tesoriero