Thérèse of Lisieux

Thérèse of Lisieux

Infobox Saint
name=Saint Thérèse de Lisieux
birth_date=birth date|1873|1|2|mf=y
death_date=death date and age|1897|9|30|1873|1|2|mf=y
feast_day=October 1
October 3 Traditional Catholic Calendar
venerated_in=Roman Catholic Church

caption=Saint Thérèse, at age 15, before entering the Carmelite order
birth_place=Alençon, France
death_place=Lisieux, France
titles=Virgin and Doctor of the Church
beatified_date=April 29, 1923
beatified_by=Pope Pius XI
canonized_date=May 17, 1925
canonized_by=Pope Pius XI
patronage=AIDS sufferers; Anchorage, Alaska; Australia; aviators; bodily ills; Cheyenne, Wyoming; Fairbanks, Alaska; Fresno, California; Juneau, Alaska; Pueblo, Colorado; florists; France; illness; Kisumu, Kenya; loss of parents; missionaries; Russia; tuberculosis; Witbank, South Africa; CatholicTV, Massachusetts
major_shrine= Basilique de Sainte-Thérèse [ [ Shrine Town of France.] Retrieved on October 1, 2006.] , Lisieux, France
prayer="For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy"
prayer_attrib= -St. Thérèse on what prayer means to her. (This quote is now part of the "Catechism of the Catholic Church". [ [ Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part Four: Christian Prayer ] . Retrieved on October 1, 2006.] )
Thérèse de Lisieux (2 January, 1873 – 30 September, 1897), or Sainte Thérèse de l'Enfant-Jésus et de la Sainte Face, born Marie-Françoise-Thérèse Martin, was a Roman Catholic Carmelite nun who was canonized a saint and is recognized as a Doctor of the Church, one of only three women to receive that honor. She is also known as The Little Flower of Jesus. [ Patron Saints Index: [ Therese of Lisieux.] Retrieved on October 1, 2006.]

Early life

St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus was born in Alençon, France, the daughter of Louis Martin, a watchmaker, and Marie-Azélie Guérin, a lacemaker. Both her parents were very religious, and according to a Catholic News Service August 2008 press release, have been approved by Pope Benedict XVI for beatification. Louis had attempted to become a monk, but was refused because he knew no Latin. Azélie was rejected as a nun because she was considered to have no vocation; instead, she asked God to give her many children and let them all be consecrated to God. Louis and Zélie met in 1858 and married only three months later. They had nine children, of whom only five daughters—Marie, Pauline, Léonie, Céline and Thérèse—survived to adulthood. Thérèse was their youngest child. Azélie's lace business was so successful that Louis sold his watchmaking shop to his nephew and handled the traveling end of her lacemaking business. Zélie died of breast cancer in 1877, when Thérèse was only four years old, and her father sold the business and moved to Lisieux, in the Calvados Department in Normandy, where Azélie's brother Isidore Guérin, a pharmacist, lived with his wife and two daughters

Thérèse studied at the Benedictine Abbey of Notre Dame du Pré. When she was nine years old, her sister Pauline, who had acted as a "second mother" to her, entered the Carmelite monastery at Lisieux. Thérèse also wanted to enter Carmel, but was told she was too young. At 14, after her sister Marie entered the same Carmelite monastery, Thérèse renewed her attempts to join the order, but the priest-superior of the monastery would not allow this on account of her youth. Later, her father took Thérèse on a pilgrimage to Rome, and during a general audience with Pope Leo XIII, she asked him to allow her to enter at 15, but the Pope said: "Well, my child, do what the superiors decide."

Shortly thereafter, the bishop of Bayeux authorized the prioress to receive Thérèse, and in April 1888 she became a Carmelite postulant. In 1889 her father suffered a stroke and was taken to a private sanatorium, the Bon Sauveur at Caen, where he remained for three years before returning to Lisieux in 1892. He died in 1894. Upon his death, Céline, who had been caring for their father, entered the same Carmel as her three sisters, on 14 September 1894; their cousin, Marie Guérin, entered in 1895. Léonie, after several failed attempts, became Sister Françoise-Thérèse, a nun in the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary at Caen. [Clarke, John O.C.D. trans. The Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Thérèse of the child jesus, 3rd Edition (Washington D.C.: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1996)]

The Little Way

Thérèse 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."

This "Little Way" also appeared in her approach to spirituality:

"Sometimes, when I read spiritual treatises, in which perfection is shown with a thousand obstacles in the way and a host of illusions round about it, my poor little mind soon grows weary, I close the learned book, which leaves my head splitting and my heart parched, and I take the Holy Scriptures. Then all seems luminous, a single word opens up infinite horizons to my soul, perfection seems easy; I see that it is enough to realize one's nothingness, and give oneself wholly, like a child, into the arms of the good God. Leaving to great souls, great minds, the fine books I cannot understand, I rejoice to be little because 'only children, and those who are like them, will be admitted to the heavenly banquet'."

Passages like this have left Thérèse open to the charge that hers is an overly sentimental and even childish spirituality. Her proponents counter that she sought to develop an approach to the spiritual life that was understandable and imitable by all who chose to do so, regardless of their level of sophistication or education.

This is evident in her approach to prayer:

"For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward Heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy; in a word, something noble, supernatural, which enlarges my soul and unites it to God.... I have not the courage to look through books for beautiful prayers.... I do as a child who has not learned to read, I just tell our Lord all that I want and He understands."

Declining health and death

Thérèse's final years were marked by a steady decline that she bore resolutely and without complaint. On the morning of Good Friday, 1896, she began bleeding at the mouth due to a pulmonary hemoptysis; her tuberculosis had taken a turn for the worse. Thérèse corresponded with a Carmelite mission in what was then French Indochina, and was invited to join them, but because of her sickness, she could not travel. In July 1897 she was moved to the monastery infirmary, where she died on September 30, 1897, at age 24. On her death-bed, she is reported to have said, "I have reached the point of not being able to suffer any more, because all suffering is sweet to me."


St. Thérèse is known today because of her spiritual memoir, "L'histoire d'une âme" ("Story of a Soul"), which she wrote upon the orders of two prioresses of her monastery. She began the work in 1895 as a memoir of her childhood, under instructions from her sister Pauline, known in religion as Mother Agnes of Jesus. Mother Agnes gave the order after being prompted by their eldest sister, Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart. While Thérèse was on retreat in September 1896, she wrote the second part, a letter to Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart. In June 1897 Mother Agnes became aware of the extent of Thérèse's illness; she immediately asked Mother Marie de Gonzague, who had succeeded her as prioress, to allow Thérèse to write another memoir with more details of her religious life. It was published posthumously, and was heavily edited by Pauline (Mother Agnes). (Aside from considerations of style, Mother Marie de Gonzague had ordered Pauline to alter the first two sections of the manuscript to make them appear as if they were addressed to Mother Marie as well.) It became the religious best-seller of the 20th century.

Since 1973, two centenary editions of Thérèse's original, unedited manuscripts, including "Story of a Soul," her letters, poems, prayers, and the plays she wrote for the monastery recreations have been published. The authoritative English translation of the centenary edition of Therese's writings is available from ICS Publications in Washington, D.C., translated by Fr. John Clarke, O.C.D.


In 1902, the Polish Carmelite Father Raphael Kalinowski (later Saint Raphael Kalinowski) translated her autobiography "Story of a Soul" into Polish.

Pope Pius X signed the decree for the opening of her process of canonization on June 10, 1914. Pope Benedict XV, in order to hasten the process, dispensed with the usual fifty-year delay required between death and beatification. On August 14, 1921, he promulgated the decree on the heroic virtues of Thérèse and gave an address on Thérèse's way of confidence and love, recommending it to the whole Church. Thérèse was beatified in April 1923 and canonized on May 17, 1925 by Pope Pius XI, only 28 years after her death. Her feast day was added to the Roman Catholic calendar of saints in 1927, for celebration on October 3. ["Calendarium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 104] In 1969, 42 years later, Pope Paul VI moved it to 1 October, the day after her "dies natalis" (birthday to heaven). ["Calendarium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 141]

The Basilique Sainte-Thérèse in her home town of Lisieux was consecrated on 11 July 1954, and has become a centre for pilgrims from all over the world.

Thérèse of Lisieux is the patron saint of people with AIDS, aviators, florists, illness, and missions. She is also considered by Catholics to be the patron saint of Russia, although the Russian Orthodox Church officially recognizes neither her canonization nor her patronage. In 1927 Pope Pius XI named Thérèse a patron of the missions and in 1944 Pope Pius XII named her co-patroness of France alongside St. Joan of Arc.

By the Apostolic Letter "Divini Amoris Scientia" ("The Science of Divine Love") of October 19 1997, Pope John Paul II declared her one of the thirty-three Doctors of the Universal Church, one of only three women so named (the others being Teresa of Avila (Saint Teresa of Jesus) and Catherine of Siena). Thérèse was the only saint to be given recognition as a Doctor of the Church during Pope John Paul II's pontificate.

A movement is now under way to canonize her parents, who were declared "Venerable" in 1994 by Pope John Paul II. In 2004 the Archbishop of Milan accepted the unexpected cure of a child with a lung disorder as attributable to their intercession. On July 12, 2008, at the ceremonies marking the 150th anniversary of the Venerable Zelie and Louis Martin, Cardinal Saraiva Martins announced that the ceremony of their beatification (the last step before canonization) will take place on Misson Sunday, October 19, 2008, at Lisieux. Some interest has also been shown towards promoting for sainthood Thérèse's sister, Léonie, the only one of the five sisters who did not become a Carmelite nun. Léonie Martin, in religion Sister Françoise-Thérèse, died in 1941 in Caen, where her tomb in the crypt of the Visitation Monastery can be visited by the public.

Together with St. Francis of Assisi, St. Thérèse of Lisieux is one of the most popular Catholic saints since Apostolic times. As a Doctor of the Church, she is the subject of much theological comment and study and, as an appealing young girl whose message has touched the life of millions, she remains the focus of much popular devotion.

Her autobiography has inspired many people, including the Italian writer Maria Valtorta. For many years Thérèse's relics have toured the world, and thousands of pilgrims have thronged to pray in their presence.


:"Note: This list is incomplete."

United States

In 1925 the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart [] founded Saint Theresa Catholic School in Coral Gables [] . The school is part of the Church of Little Flower Parish in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Miami [] .

In 1925, the National Shrine of the Little Flower Catholic Church [] , in Royal Oak, Michigan, was built in honor of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.

Little Flower Manor is a non-profit, Catholic nursing home in Darby, PA

St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus or The Little Flower Parish was founded in Lincoln, NE in 1926, just one year after she was canonized. A parish school opened under the same name in 1930, although today it is spelled St. Teresa [] .

In 1928, St. Therese the Little Flower of Jesus Parish, Port Arthur, Texas was established.

In 1929, The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Little Flower located in San Antonio, Texas was established.

In 1933, [ The Shrine of St. Therese] located in Juneau, Alaska was begun by Bishop Crimont S.J.,D.D. of Alaska who was French born and knew members of Therese's family. The Shrine Chapel and retreat facility was completed and dedicated in 1938.

In 1939, Cardinal Dougherty built a high school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in honor of St. Thérèse: Little Flower Catholic High School for Girls.

The Parish and Catholic schools of St. Thérèse of Lisieux Elementary and Junior High School in Cresskill, New Jersey celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2007.

St. Thérèse of the Infant Jesus Catholic Church, school and parish in Indianapolis, IN.

Little Flower Catholic Church in South Bend, Indiana, was originally called St. Thérèse Parish but quickly became known as "Little Flower." The parish was named after St. Thérèse because its founding pastor, Fr. Joseph Payne, was devoted to her.

St. Thérèse de Lisieux Catholic Church and Parish in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. The church is located at 61 Mill Street.

St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus Catholic Church, school and parish in San Diego, California.

[ Church of St. Theresa, The Little Flower] , a Catholic church and elementary school in Minot, North Dakota.

[ St Therese Church of the Little Flower] , St Jude's Shrine in Reno, Nevada at 875 Plumb Lane. There is a school here as well.

[ St. Theresa of the Child Jesus Church and Shrine] in Nasonville, Rhode Island was erected by Bishop William A. Hickey on August 23, 1923.

St. Therese of the Child Jesus Parish is located at Upsal and Ardleigh Streets in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was established in 1925 immediately following the canonization of St. Therese.

St Therese Parish and school in Lansing, MI

[ St Therese North Catholic Church] and [ School] is located in Parkville, Missouri

[ St Therese the Little Flower Parish] is located in Kansas City, Missouri.

[ St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus Catholic Maronite Church] is located in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

[ The Carmelite Spiritual Center] , which includes the National Shrine to St. Therese, is located in Darien, Illinois.

[ St. Theresa of Lisieux] parish in Billerica, Massachusetts is the largest parish in the Archdiocese of Boston.

St Therese, Church of the Little Flower is located in Hollywood, FL.

Saint Therese of Lisieux church and school is located in Munhall, PA in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Saint Therese of Lisieux church and school is located in New Cumberland, PA in the Diocese of Harrisburg.

[ Saint Therese of the Child Jesus] parish is located in Midvale, UT in the Diocese of Salt Lake City.

Saint Therese de Lisieux Parish was created in Wellington, in the Diocese of Palm Beach, Florida, on July 1, 2000.

[ Little Flower] parish is located in Canton, OH, in the Diocese of Youngstown.

Saint Therese of Lisieux is the patroness of CatholicTV in Boston.

Little Flower Catholic Church and Little Flower School are located in Mobile, Alabama.


There is a St. Theresa of the Child Jesus Parish in Bathurst, New Brunswick.

The municipality of Sainte-Thérèse-de-la-Gatineau, Quebec, is named in her honour.cite web |url=,3&Longitude=-75,86667&Zoom=1700 |title=Sainte-Thérèse-de-la-Gatineau (Municipalité) |accessdate=2008-09-16 |publisher=Commission de toponymie du Québec |language=French]

There is a St. Thérèse de Lisieux Catholic Church, elementary school and parish in Cornwall, Ontario.

There is a St. Theresa of Lisieux Catholic High School in Richmond Hill, ON.

[ Little Flower Academy] , is a Catholic girl's school in Vancouver, British Columbia. It was founded in 1927 by the [ Sisters of Saint Ann] .

United Kingdom

Each of the 8 dioceses in Scotland has at least one parish dedicated to St. Thérèse: Aberdeen, Argyll & the Isles, Dunkeld, Galloway, Glasgow, Motherwell, Paisley, St.Andrews & Edinburgh.

In 2000 the Saint Thérèse of Lisieux primary school was opened in the Ingleby Barwick parish of the same name in the Diocese of Middlesbrough, Britain.

There is a Catholic primary school in Belfast, Northern Ireland dedicated to "Thérèse of Lisieux"


St. Theresa's Convent Sr. Sec. School, Karnal (HR), India

St.Teresa's Church, Sembium, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, South India.
St.Therasa's Church, [Fingerpost] ,Ooty,Tamil Nadu, South India.St.Theresa's Church,Selas,Nilgiris South India.


See also

*Carmelite Rule of St. Albert
*Book of the First Monks
*Constitutions of the Carmelite Order
*Byzantine Discalced Carmelites

External links

* [ Web site about the life, writings, spirituality, and mission of St. Therese of Lisieux]
* [ Web site of the Pilgrimage Office at Lisieux]
* [ Web pages about the life, beatification, and pastoral significance of the parents of St. Therese, the Venerable Zelie and Louis Martin]
* [ The Shrine of St. Therese Catholic Church, Pueblo, Colorado dedicated to St. Therese.]
* [ Official web site of the full-length feature film on the life of St. Thérèse of Lisieux]
* [ Pope John Paul II's "Divini Amoris Scientia" in English]
* [ Catholic Encyclopedia article]
* [ Second Class Relic of Saint Therese of Lisieux]
* [ Images of St. Thérèse de Lisieux] at The Catholic Community Forum
* [ Carmelite Vocation]
* [ Discalced Carmelite Calendar and Saints]
* [ Saint Therese Memorial Page at FindaGrave]
* [ Saint Therese Sacrifice Beads / Good deed beads]
* [ Oil Painting of St. Therese] by Catholic Artist Mark Sanislo

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Thérèse de Lisieux — /tay rddez deuh lee zyue /, n. Saint (Marie Françoise Thérèse Martin) ( the Little Flower ), 1873 97, French Carmelite nun. * * * …   Universalium

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  • Thérèse de Lisieux — /təreɪz də lizˈjɜ/ (say tuhrayz duh leez yer) noun Saint ( Little Flower of Jesus ), 1873–97, French Carmelite nun; noted for her autobiography The Story of a Soul (1897) …   Australian English dictionary

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  • Thérèse of Lisieux, Saint — orig. Marie Françoise Thérèse Martin born Jan. 2, 1873, Alençon, France died Sept. 30, 1897, Lisieux; canonized May 17, 1925; feast day October 1 French Carmelite nun and Doctor of the Church. Born into a devout Roman Catholic family, she entered …   Universalium

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