St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. Discalced Carmelite nun. Canonized May 17, 1925 by Pope Pius XI. On October 19, 1997, declared a Doctor of the Church, one of only four females with that title.
Marie Françoise Thérèse Martin, always known as Thérèse, was born at rue St. Blaise, Alençon, Orne, France on January 2, 1873. Her parents were Louis Martin and Zélie Guérin and she was their ninth and last child. She was baptised at Our Lady's Church on January 4, 1873. Her eldest sister, Marie, was her Godmother and Paul Boul, the son of a friend of her father, was her Godfather. As her mother was unable to feed her, Thérèse spent eleven months at Semallé with her wet-nurse Rose Tiallé, but on returning home she bonded closely with her mother so it came as a great blow to her when mother died. Thérèse was four years old and from being a lively outgoing child she became shy and uneasy with those outside her immediate family. Three months after her mother's death, in November 1877, the family moved to Lisieux. With her father and sisters Thérèse blossomed and learned her lessons well from her two eldest sisters so when she began school at the Benedictine Convent, in Lisieux at the age of 8 she became top of her class, evoking jealousy in the older pupils. Thérèse was never happy at school and when she was 13 her father allowed her to leave and take private lessons with a woman in the town. Thérèse's two eldest sisters had become nuns in the Carmelite Monastery at Lisieux and Thérèse, who had always been an exceptionally religious child, wanted to enter there herself at the age of 15. Many considered this too young, though she had her father's support and he took he to appeal to the Bishop at Bayeux. On a pilgrimage to Rome Thérèse asked Pope Leo XIII to grant her permission to enter the Lisieux Carmel, and eventually she was granted the Bishop's permission to enter three months after her 15th birthday. Thérèse died of tuberculosis on September 30, 1897 at the age of 24. She was buried in the public cemetery at Lisieux in a new plot, which her uncle had bought for the Carmelites. Thérèse's life as a nun appeared externally unremarkable to most of the sisters, but her writings revealed an exceptionally deep understanding of the loving mercy of God, in a Jansenistic age. Her own writings were published as her obituary a year after her death under the title Story of a Soul. Thérèse had not written them for publication, they consisted of her childhood memories for her sister Pauline, a letter about her spiritual teaching to her sister Marie and an account of her life in the monastery for her prioress, Mother Marie de Gonzague. Initially the book was shared with other Carmelite monasteries in France, but as nuns lent it to their friends, demand for it grew and it became a best seller, translated into over 40 languages. Gradually Thérèse's other writings were published, including poems, plays, letters and her, lat conversations, recorded by her sisters. In addition, a series of books entitled Showers of Roses was published; these recounted miracles granted through Thérèse's intercession.
For more information on St. Thérèse see the Lisieux Archives website at: http://www.archives-carmel-lisieux.fr/english/carmel/
Story of a Soul
Marie Françoise Thérèse MARTIN, Carmélite, sœur Thérèse de l’Enfant-Jésus et de la Sainte Face, fille de Louis Joseph Aloys Stanislas (1823-1894) et Azélie Marie GUERIN (1831-1877), née à Alençon (Orne) le 2 janvier 1873, reçue au baptême à Alençon Notre-Dame (Orne) le sur lendemain, à l'âge de deux jours, décédée à Lisieux (Calvados) le 30 septembre 1897, à l'âge de vingt-quatre ans, inhumée dans la même localité le sur lendemain.
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