Theresa of Lisieux

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St. Theresa of Lisieux

Saint Theresa of Lisieux (born 1873, died 1897) also called Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus. She held a magnificent love to please God from a very early age. Theresa is the last of 33 Doctors of the Church, having received the honor in 1997, a title bestowed to her by Pope John Paul II. Theresa's feast day is October 1.

Early life

Theresa was born Marie-Françoise-Therese Martin in Alençon, France to mother Zelie Guerin and father Louis Martin. She was the youngest of five sisters which her dad nicknamed 'his little queen." The Martins had a very devout Christian upbringing and four of the girls became Carmelite nuns. Therese was only four years old when her mom died from breast cancer. Afterward, the family moved to Lisieux, France.

School Years

At age nine, she wished to join her sister Pauline at the Carmelite Convent. She had a strong soul and was determined to devote her life to Jesus. At age fourteen, she approached the Carmelite authorities for permission to enter. The directing priest advised her to return when she was twenty-one. Theresa did not take no for an answer and she was told to petition the Bishop, Hugonin of Bayeux. Her father accompanied her to a meeting with the Bishop. Hugonin listened to her and stated that he would get back to her in writing. In 1887, the family went on a pilgrimage to Rome during the Golden Jubilee celebration. Theresa decided she would speak with Pope Leo XIII, requesting his permission to enter the Carmelites. Theresa at the feet of the Holy Father made her request. He replied "Go-go- you will enter if God wills it." [1]

Theresa received the good news New Year's Day 1888 and on April 9, 1888, at age fifteen, she became a Carmelite.

Lisieux Carmel

Theresa finally joined her sister Pauline at Lisiex Carmel. "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." Hence, the term 'The little flower'. She wanted to please Jesus soo much that she devised her own plan called 'The Little Way', her perfect accomplishments of small duties in simplicity to God's service. She says "..but I want to seek out a means of going to heaven by a little way, a way that is very straight, very short and totally new." Theresa abandoned herself to Jesus. "I offer myself to Thee, my well-Beloved, that Thy holy will may be fulfilled in me, without let or hindrance on the part of creatures." She believed and taught that "everything is grace"- God's face and presence could be experienced in every person and situation of our lives, if we just attend with love and expectancy.

Her superior asked her to write down her reflections. This became her autobiography "Story of a Soul." She died at the age of 24 from tuberculosis. Her book was published the following year.


Many miracles performed through her intercession and seventeen years later, the Cause of Beatification was introduced at Rome on June 10, 1914. Beatification on April 29, 1923 and Canonization on May 17, 1925 making her a saint. Her feast day is October 1.

Millions have been touched by her intercession and imitate her "little way." Roses have been described as Saint Therese's signature. She has been acclaimed "the greatest saint of modern times." In 1997, she became the 33rd Doctor to receive the title when Pope John Paul II declared St. Therese a Doctor of the Church on October 19, 1997 - the only Doctor of his pontificate.


U.S. astronaut Ronald Garan brought a relic of St. Therese of Lisieux with him during his last trip to space. Garan met Pope Benedict and will now take another relic of St. Therese on the mission to the International Space Station in 2011.[2]

External links



  1. Her Life at Lisieux Carmel The Society of the little flower
  2. Astronaut to carry another relic of St. Therese to space in 2011 Catholic News Agency, June 25, 2009