Stronger Than Steel
Soldiers of the Great War Write to Therese of Lisieux
Translated by Sr. Marie of the Child Jesus
In the seventeen years between her death in 1897 and the outbreak of World War I, the fame of Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face had spread widely, especially in France and its colonies: her autobiography The Story of a Soul was hugely popular, and soldiers carried around holy cards, medals, and relics. This remarkable collection of letters from (mostly French) soldiers fighting in the Great War and enduring its abysmal horrors are astonishing and moving testimonies of how Thérèse appeared to them or spoke to them when invoked—how she miraculously protected them from “showers of iron and fire,” delivered them from precipitous danger, healed them when doctors despaired, and encouraged them in the trials of battle. Shedding new light on the enduring mission of this beloved saint, Stronger than Steel will rekindle the reader’s devotion to “the greatest saint of modern times” (in the words of her devotee, Pope Pius X).
“In my distress, I cried out with absolute faith: ‘Over here, Sister Thérèse!’ No sooner had I uttered these words than the saint suddenly appeared to me, bright and with a large halo. With her mighty hand, she abruptly stopped the enemy’s shooting, and not a single shell was released any more, until I arrived in Verdun.” (May 1916) “I saw a sort of brightness, and the little Sister Thérèse who was looking at me with a smile. Oh, what kind eyes this saint had for me!” (June 1917) “I began to pray to the little Sister to have mercy on me, for I was without courage at the moment, and she appeared to me as she is on her image, but without telling me anything; I only felt she was protecting me, it was as if I read in her eyes: ‘I am here, do not fear anything.’” (October 1918)
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