Called “the greatest saint of modern times” Saint Thérèse entered the Carmelite order at the young age of fifteen, and died at the age of twenty-four. She confided to her Sister on her sickbed, “I feel like my mission is about to begin, my mission to make God loved as I love Him, to teach souls my little way. It is the way of Spiritual Childhood, of trust and absolute self- surrender”.
was born at Alençon in France on January 2, 1873. Her parents were Louis Martin and Zélie Guérin. Her happy childhood was disrupted by the tragic death of her mother from cancer on August 28,1877. Thérèse and her family then moved to Lisieux, where her “incomparable” father and devoted older sisters provided a loving home, centered upon love of God and the Holy Faith. She suffered from her mother’s death, as any small child would. Although remaining tenderly affectionate with her family, she became over-sensitive, over-scrupulous and fearful, with a strong tendency to sadness. But loving God above all things, she struggled bravely to overcome her fears and her faults. Finally, on Christmas of her 13th year, she received what she later called her “grace of conversion” - and grew up. From this time on, she matured in every way, making great strides in surmounting sadness and fears – finding joy in life again. Her aspirations to love God perfectly and live only for His love and glory grew; her desire from childhood to become a Religious never left her.
At 15, she entered the Carmelite convent in Lisieux to give her whole life to God. She took the religious name Sister Therese of the Child Jesus of the Holy Face. Living a hidden, simple life of prayer and sacrifice, she attained great intimacy with God – through trusting abandonment to God, humility, confidence and meticulous fidelity to the Carmelite Rule and life. God sent her suffering, especially in the humbling illness of her father and his death, as well as the “pinpricks” of daily Community life in Carmel. Through all, she learned of the great love of God - His “merciful love,” - and generously offered herself as an oblation to this great love. A long struggle with tuberculosis and a trial of faith consumed her strength, and she died on September 30, 1897. Her final words were the testament of her life: "My God, I love You!" She is also one of the few woman Saints to be declared a Doctor of the Church.
More can be read about St. Therese and her spirituality in our past newsletters.
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