ST THÉRÈSE OF LISIEUX
St Thérèse of Lisiuex was a remarkable young woman who had such faith in God that her writings have helped form the teachings of the Catholic Church. Even though she died at the age of 24, she is known as a Doctor of the Church.
Thérèse Martin was born in Alençon, France on 2nd January 1873, to Louis and Zélie Martin (now also canonised saints). St Thérèse’s mother died when Thérèse was 4, she became very close to her father and sisters. We find out most of what we know about St Thérèse from her autobiographical writings known as ‘Story of a Soul’.
As a young child St Thérèse was often ill, aged 10 she received healing from a serious illness through the intercession of Our Lady of Victories. From a young age she felt called to follow her sisters and enter the Carmelite convent in Lisiuex; however she was prevented due to her age. St Thérèse was so convinced of her call and had such trust in God that during a pilgrimage to Rome she asked Pope Leo XIII if he would permit her to enter aged 15, even though she had been told not to speak to him.
St Thérèse is known for her ‘little way’ of holiness, she said “I will look for some means of going to heaven by a little way which is very short and very straight, a little way that is quite new.” She looked for small ways to be holy in each moment. St Thérèse did not always find it easy to pray; she suffered physically and emotionally and did not always get along with the other members of her community. However she offered all of her suffering to Jesus and because of this was able to face the trials that came her way.
St Thérèse is often called ‘The Little Flower’ not solely because of her love for flowers but because she saw herself as a little flower in God’s garden. She recognised that all flowers are different, and she was happy to be who God had created her to be. She also said “The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love.”
On 30th September 1897 St Thérèse died, after being very ill. Even after death her life continues to inspire many people to live a life of complete trust in God and gives us an example of how to endure suffering. St Thérèse is considered to be patron saint of missions, not because she travelled far and wide (she was a cloistered nun) but because of her prayers and support of missionaries, hence why she is one of our patrons!
"My mission - to make God loved - will begin after my death," she said. "I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. I will let fall a shower of roses."