Mother of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. Canonized, together with her husband, on October 18, 2015.
Zélie Guérin was born on December 23rd 1831, in Saint-Denis-sur-Sarthon though the family lived in the village of Gandelain about three miles away from the market town, where their parish church was situated. Zélie was the daughter of Isidore Guérin and Louise Macé. She was baptised in the church at St. Denis the day after her birth and given the names Azélie Marie but she was always known as Zélie. Her Godfather was Franҫois-Michel Septier and her Godmother was her cousin Marie Berrier. The family moved to Alençon when Zélie was twelve and with her older sister, Élise, Zélie attended the school run by the Religious of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary of Perpetual Adoration, commonly known as the Picpus Sisters, because the first house of the Congregation was on the rue de Picpus in Paris. Zélie was a conscientious student, intelligent and religious; she nearly always came first for composition and style in her French essays. When she was 19, Zélie tried to enter the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, at the Hôtel-Dieu in Alenҫon, but she was not accepted, probably due to the frequent headaches which she had suffered in her childhood. Towards the end of 1853 Zélie set up her own lace business in the family home at Alenҫon. she was listed in the trade directory as ‘Maker of Point d’Alenςon’. Zélie employed women who worked on small pieces of lace in their own homes. Each week they brought their finished work to her. When the pieces were completed Zélie joined them together herself, she was an expert assembler. She soon gained a reputation for lace of a very high quality. To begin with she marketed all her lace directly to her customers but in 1856 she began to work for the prestigious House of Pigache. At 10 pm on July 12 1858 Zélie married Louis Martin in the Town Hall at Alenςon at a civil ceremony at and at Midnight on July 13, they were married at Our Lady’s Church in Alenςon. They had nine children three of whom died in infancy and another at the age of five, but they brought up five daughters, the youngest of whom was St. Thérèse. Zélie died of breast cancer on August 28, 1877 while her daughters were still young, between the ages of 4 and 17. She was buried in the cemetery at Alençon but after her husband's death her brother had her remains transferred to a family grave in Lisieux. When their cause for canonisation was introduced Louis and Zélie were re-interred behind the Basilica of St. Thérèse at Lisieux but before their canonisation ceremony their remains were transferred again into the Irish Reliquary where they are venerated as Saints.
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