Thérèse of Lisieux

Thérèse was born in 1873 in Alençon, in France. She was the last daughter of Louis and Zélie Martin, who were beatified together on 19 October 2008. They had nine children, four of whom died at a tender age. Five daughters were left, who all became religious. Thérèse, at the age of four, was deeply upset by the death of her mother (Ms A 13r). Her father then moved with his daughters to the town of Lisieux. The “Grace of Christmas” of 1886 marked the important turning-point, which she called her “complete conversion” (ibid., 44v-45r). In fact she recovered totally, from her childhood hyper-sensitivity and began a “to run as a giant”. In November 1887, Thérèse went on pilgrimage to Rome. The culminating moment for her was the Audience with Pope Leo XIII, whom she asked for permission to enter the Carmel of Lisieux when she was only just 15. A year later her wish was granted. At the same time, her father began to suffer from a painful and humiliating mental illness. It caused Thérèse great suffering which led her to contemplation of the Face of Jesus in his Passion (ibid., 71rc). Thus, her name as a religious — Sr Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face — expresses the programme of her whole life. Her religious profession, 8 September 1890, was a true spiritual espousal in evangelical “littleness”. In 1896, came the “Grace of Easter”, which opened the last period of Thérèse’s life with the beginning of her passion in profound union with the Passion of Jesus. Thérèse died on the evening of 30 September 1897, saying the simple words, “My God, I love you!” looking at the Crucifix she held tightly in her hands.