St. Therese of Lisieux

Despite her short life, dying at the age of 24, St. Therese is one of only four women Doctors of the Church (alongside Teresa of Avila, Hildegard von Bingen, and Catherine of Siena). Her famous "Little Way" has gone on to inspire many in the century since her death.

Therese also once wrote and performed in a play about Joan of Arc. During Joan's execution by burning at the stake, the set caught on fire, nearly igniting Therese's costume. I don't have anything extra to add about that, it's just a neat story I wanted to share.


Lifetime: January 2, 1873 to September 30, 1897
Region: France
Patronages: Missionaries; France; Florists
Iconograpy: Roses; Crucifix; Habit
Feast Day: October 1

Therese (born Marie Francois-Therese Martin) belonged to an extremely devout family. Her mother had hoped to become a nun, but was discouraged, and her father had similarly tried to join a religious order but was refused as he did not know Latin. After marrying, they went on to have nine children, some of whom sadly died in infancy or youth, but all five of their surviving daughters ended up becoming nuns. Additionally, Therese's parents, Louis and Zelie Martin, are the only married saints who were canonized together.

When she was 15, Therese joined the Discalced Carmelites in Lisieux, the same convent two of her sisters belonged to (and a third would join after her). But her time among the nuns was not without challenge, for Therese had always felt a strong call to sainthood, but came to feel she was too small and insignificant to make such a difference in the world.

However, Therese eventually developed her "little way", a simple approach to holiness that is an inspiration to millions today who aren't in a position to perform great deeds in the name of Christ. She began taking every opportunity she could find to make small sacrifices in order to make the world just a little more holy. She ate all her food without complaint. She asked forgiveness for wrongdoings she didn't commit. She picked up little crumbs and bits of lint as she walked down the hall. Therese had always hoped to be a martyr, but she found a way in her own quiet part of the world, cloistered among a handful of devout women, to turn every moment into a miniature martyrdom instead.

Therese, who had grown up somewhat spoiled and notoriously bratty, invented an approach to spirituality that invoked the greatest humility. From a woman who once dreamt of grand deeds and a glorious martyrdom, like her hero Joan of Arc, we hear this: "Thine Arms, then, O Jesus, are the lift which must raise me up even unto Heaven. To get there I need not grow. On the contrary, I must remain little, I must become still less."

Therese died of tuberculosis at 24, but it is clear that her approach to holiness was exactly what she needed -- and what so many of us have needed since.

Prayer to Saint Therese

O Little Therese of the Child Jesus,
Please pick a rose for me
From the heavenly gardens
And send it to me
As a message of love.

O little flower of Jesus,
Ask God today to grant the favors
I now place with confidence
In your hands.

(Mention your specific requests)

St. Therese,
help me to always believe,
As you did,
In God's great love for me,
So that I might imitate your
"Little Way" each day.


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