St. Therese of Lisieux is a beloved, modern saint for so many. The way she gradually grew into sainthood from childhood, joined the Carmelites at age 15, and accomplished so much in her 24 years is unbelievable.
A Holy Upbringing
Therese Martin was born to some holy parents, who we now call Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin (another “holy family” right?). Therese was raised by her older sister, Pauline, because her mother died when she was 4 years old. However, her sister Pauline soon left to join the Carmelites, followed by her sister Marie, and then her other sister, Leonie, joined the Poor Clares. (Later her only other sister, Celine, also joined the Carmelites after Louis’ death, but ALL the Martin girls had religious vocations? What the what!)
Therese had a terrible illness as a child, but she was cured after praying to Mary. She was also a little bit of trouble when she was young. Sometimes, she would throw tantrums or break into tears (even saints had issues!). She also prayed for healing from this sensitivity. The year before she entered the Carmelites, around Christmas time, she was healed (this she called her “conversion”).
As a 14 year old, she desired to enter the Carmelites, but both the Mother Superior and the Bishop denied her entry. Her father took her on a pilgrimage to Rome and she managed to get an audience with the Pope. She wasn’t supposed to speak to him, but she begged him to let her join the Carmelites (then she had to be carried out by guards!). Someone at the Vatican saw her courage and granted her permission to join the order where 2 of her sisters were already.
The convent wasn’t all roses. But, it was her mission to sacrifice constantly: she took the blame, she didn’t complain, she didn’t welcome compliments or praise. Therese was a lot like you and me. She had dry moments in her spiritual life, she was worried about her vocation, and she wanted more than anything to become a saint.
At age 24, she died of tuberculosis. Her sister convinced her to write about her life and Story of a Soul, her autobiography, has become a Catholic classic. Pope John Paul II named her a Doctor of the Church and she is the patroness of missions. You can read more about her and and the American Shrine devoted to St. Therese here.
Why a rose?
St. Therese is commonly known as the “little flower” because her path to holiness involved becoming little and fully dependent on God. Many people look for roses from St. Therese as a sign of her prayers and presence.
Who would be friends with St. Therese of Lisieux?
- Those suffering with diseases
“When I die, I will send down a shower of roses from the heavens, I will spend my heaven by doing good on earth.”St. Therese of Lisieux