St. Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897)
Feast Day: October 1
Doctor of the Church: 1997
Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, also known as the “Little Flower,” was one of the most ambitious saints in history. As a young girl she was determined to become a saint. “I have the vocation of the apostle,” she wrote. “Martyrdom was the dream of my youth, and this dream has grown with me.”
Thérèse was born in Alençon, France, the daughter of Louis Martin, a watchmaker, and Zélie-Marie Guérin, a lacemaker. The Holy Father recently approved a miracle worked through the couple’s intercession. The couple will be beatified on Oct. 19 in Lisieux.
Thérèse joined the Carmelite Order in 1888 at the age of 15. She is known for her “Little Way.” In her quest for sanctity, she realized that it was not necessary to accomplish heroic acts or great deeds in order to attain holiness and to express her love of God.
She wrote, “Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers, and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love.”
Thérèse’s dream of reaching far distant lands with the love of Christ as a missionary were fulfilled by daily offering her sweeping, washing dishes and praying for the salvation of souls — all of which she did with a profound understanding of the global repercussions of her offering to God.
The saint’s spiritual diary, The Story of a Soul, is recognized as one of the greatest spiritual works of the 19th century. Thérèse is one of three female Doctors of the Church. In recognition of her prayer commitment for missionaries, she was named Patroness of the Missions.
This column is produced for Legatus by the Dead Theologians Society, a Catholic apostolate for high school age teens and college age young adults. On the web: deadtheologianssociety.com.