Friday 28th October 2016

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

Reconnecting With Mary . . . St Thérèse Of Lisieux: A Best-Loved Saint

July 10, 2014 Featured Today No Comments


Part 1

This is the first of two articles on the life, death, and influence of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. She was born at Alençon in Normandy, in northern France, on January 2, 1873, to Louis and Zélie Martin, the last of nine children. She lived a very hidden life in the Carmelite convent at Lisieux, entering at the early age of 15 and dying when she was only 24, in 1897.
After her death, devotion to her grew at a prodigious rate and still, to this day, she is one of the most well-loved saints in the Church. She became posthumously famous particularly through her very influential autobiography, The Story of a Soul, and also through her profound spirituality, that of the “Little Way.” This seeks divine union not through rigorous mortifications but by offering up the small sacrifices and sufferings of life to God, in a spirit of self-oblation.
Many graces and miracles were obtained through her intercession, and she was beatified in 1923, and canonized by Pope Pius XI only two years later. Pope Pius X (1903-1914) had called her the greatest saint of modern times, an astonishing accolade for one who had lived such a hidden life.
Her parents were very devout, and her father, Louis Martin, had wanted to become a religious, but this was not possible due to difficulties with Latin, and so he settled on a career as a watchmaker. Zélie too had wanted to become a religious, but finally became a lacemaker. They met early in 1858, and married only three months later. Initially, they had decided to live a life of continence together, but following advice from a priest, they embraced the marital state fully and eventually had nine children, of which five daughters survived.
Apart from Thérèse, three of her elder sisters, Marie, Pauline, and Céline, became Carmelite nuns while the other sister, Léonie, became a Visitandine nun.
Both parents sought to pass on their strong Catholic beliefs to their children, who were brought up firmly, but with great love and affection. Thérèse, the youngest, was the particular favorite of her father, who called her his “little queen.” Her parents attended daily Mass very early in the morning, observed the feasts and fasts of the Church, and prayed that one of their children would become a saint. In fact Louis and Zélie exhibited all the signs of sanctity themselves in the selfless manner in which they lived, and in the way they brought up their large family. They were beatified at the behest of Pope Benedict XVI by José Cardinal Saraiva Martins, the papal legate, in October 2008, in the Basilica at Lisieux.
Thérèse was close to her other sisters but particularly Pauline, the second daughter, especially after the early death of their mother from breast cancer, in 1877, at the age of 45, when Thérèse was only four. Ultimately, when Thérèse entered the Carmel of Lisieux, Pauline was there to welcome her as prioress of the community. After Zélie’s death, the family moved to Lisieux to be near her brother’s family, the Guerins.
Thérèse was strong-willed, even stubborn, as a child, which was a cause of concern to her mother, so she was encouraged to make little sacrifices as a way of conquering her self-will. After her mother’s death, though, she became somewhat shy and withdrawn. The family members were very close, however, and the eldest daughter Marie tried to take the place of her mother as head of the household, even though she was only 13. It became Pauline’s task to give the younger girls religious instruction, until she entered the Lisieux Carmel when Thérèse was nine.
Her sisters’ vocations stimulated a strong desire to emulate them, but Thérèse continued her education at the Benedictine convent of Notre-Dame-du-Pre, where she was not particularly happy due to harassment from fellow pupils and her reserved nature.
The loss of Pauline to Carmel was a big blow to Thérèse, and she became seriously ill, only recovering in May 1883, when a statue of the Blessed Virgin smiled at her. In Thérèse’s own words, “Mary’s face radiated kindness and love.” In May 1885, Thérèse entered a period of scrupulosity for a year and a half, which was so trying that she later described it as a type of martyrdom.
Marie entered Carmel in October 1886, and that Christmas, after Midnight Mass, Thérèse reached a decisive turning point in her life. Thanks to a special grace, she was able to put her childhood fears behind her, and her sadness since the time of her mother’s death, and devote herself completely to loving God. She later described this moment as her “conversion.”
The next summer, in May 1887, when Thérèse was 14, she told her father that she too wanted to enter Carmel. He broke down in tears at this news, but recovered himself and plucked a little white flower and gave it to her. She understood this was symbolic of her life, and how God had preserved her for Himself.
She applied to Lisieux Carmel for entrance but was turned down because of her age. Later that year, however, Louis took Thérèse and her sister Céline on a pilgrimage to Rome. They arrived there on November 20, 1887, and were able to take part in a general audience with Pope Leo XIII. When Thérèse’s turn came to approach the Pope, she knelt before him and asked the favor of being allowed to enter Carmel at the age of 15. He replied that she should do what the superiors decide, and that she would enter if it was God’s will.
Events on the pilgrimage had taught her about the dangers of the world, from which she had hitherto been sheltered, and she returned to Lisieux more determined than ever to become a Carmelite. Finally, in April 1889, she was allowed to enter the Carmel, and became a postulant while only age 15, taking the name Thérèse of the Child Jesus.
She immediately felt a great sense of peace, a peace which in the main stayed with her to the end of her life, despite all the trials and difficulties she would have to endure. She adhered to the Carmelite rule with great exactness, and although her two eldest sisters were already installed in the Carmel, Thérèse deliberately kept her distance from them, denying herself the pleasure and support of their company; she generally only saw them during recreation.
She ended her postulancy in January 1889, and then became a novice taking the brown Carmelite habit. From this point on she tried to intensify her life of prayer, especially for priests, and to practice the virtues in numerous little ways. Thérèse also read the works of St. John of the Cross, the great Carmelite reformer of the 16th century, deriving much benefit from them.
She developed, too, a devotion to the Holy Face of Christ during her novitiate, that face bruised and swollen during His Passion, and at the ceremony of taking the veil, she added the words “and of the Holy Face” to her name in religion, to become Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face. Here in this name we have a synthesis of the spiritual focus of her life: to be humble and little, like the Child Jesus, but also to be one with Him in his sufferings.

+    +    +

(Donal Anthony Foley is the author of a number of books on Marian Apparitions, and maintains a related web site at

Share Button

2016 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Vatican: Cremated bodies may not be scattered

Vatican City, Oct 25, 2016 / 09:44 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released an instruction Tuesday regarding burial and cremation, reiterating the Church’s teaching that cremation, while strongly discouraged, can be permissible under certain…Continue Reading

Pope’s climate message failed to sway Catholic conservatives: study

Pope Francis’s landmark statement on climate change and his call for more work on the issue failed to sway conservative American Catholics, according to a new study. The report, from the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, concluded that…Continue Reading

Live From New York Should a Catholic Vote for Hillary or Trump?

Almighty God has been very good  in giving us as the day’s Gospel passage that of Our Lord’s famous admonition to “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s but to God what is God’s.” I say that in view of the…Continue Reading

Catholic university blasts ‘Unborn Lives Matter’ posters as ‘bigotry,’ bans them on campus

CHICAGO, Illinois, October 18, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – College Republicans at DePaul University were prohibited by the university president from displaying posters on campus advertising their group with the pro-life message, “Unborn Lives Matter.” Vincentian Father Dennis Holtschneider indicated to the…Continue Reading

For Archbishop Chaput, ‘Catholic Spring’ group did untold damage

Philadelphia, Pa., Oct 14, 2016 / 05:53 pm (CNA).- Archbishop Charles J. Chaput did not enjoy his first and only encounter with two leaders of Catholics United. “It was an interesting experience,” Archbishop Chaput recounted in his Oct. 13 column…Continue Reading

The anti-Catholic Catholics (and the bishops who support them)

Yesterday Ross Douthat of the New York Times embarked on a lengthy Tweetstorm —21 tweets in all—questioning whether it’s accurate to refer to the leaked emails from the Clinton campaign as evidence of “anti-Catholic” bigotry. Douthat—who is no friend of…Continue Reading

The next ‘deplorables’? Clinton campaign rips ‘backwards’ Catholic beliefs in leaked e-mails

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 11, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – “Conservative Catholics” are the latest Americans to be smeared by members of Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign, leaked emails revealed on Tuesday show. Catholic beliefs are bashed as “backwards” and conservative Catholics…Continue Reading

German Bishop’s New Proposal: “There Exists More Than Man and Woman”

The Catholic Church in Germany seems to be becoming more and more unbounded in its proposals. In the recent past, for examples, the official website of the German Bishops’ Conference,, has reported about the idea to have women cardinals; about…Continue Reading

Cardinal Sarah presents counter-vision to Francis as he launches new book

After being reprimanded by Pope Francis over the summer for calling on priests to face east while saying Mass, Cardinal Robert Sarah is refusing to back down and is becoming a rallying point of opposition to this papacy.  The Vatican’s…Continue Reading

Massachusetts’ highest court grants full parental rights to unmarried gay woman

BOSTON – The Mass. court that paved the way for same-sex marriage in the United States ruled Tuesday that an unmarried gay woman whose former girlfriend gave birth to two children through artificial insemination has the same parental rights as…Continue Reading

Shunned for supporting natural marriage, former Mozilla CEO is back with new browser

SAN FRANCISCO, September 28, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — The former CEO of Mozilla has released a new Internet browser called Brave. Brendan Eich, the creator of JavaScript, continues to lead the technological revolution with Brave, an innovative concept in Internet browsers.…Continue Reading

Lay Catholic Group: Tim Kaine’s Radical Views Stem From Embrace of Liberation Theology

An organization of committed lay Catholics is challenging Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine, who’s invoking his Catholic faith and the words of Pope Francis as a basis for his radical positions on abortion and marriage, as well as his…Continue Reading


Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope Francis addresses JPII Institute

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis addressed the administration, faculty, students, and staff of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family in Rome on Thursday, at the opening of the Institute’s academic year. The Holy Father’s address was also in view of the Institute’s upcoming 35th anniversary, to be marked in November. In remarks prepared for the occasion and delivered on Thursday morning in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace,…Continue Reading

Father Gerald Murray, Blasts Clinton for Not Apologizing for Staff Emails, Suggesting Pope Francis Supports Her

A Catholic priest said Friday on Fox News that he is very disappointed Hillary Clinton didn’t apologize for her campaign staff’s anti-Catholic remarks during her appearance at the Al Smith dinner. The annual Al Smith roast-style fundraiser for Catholic charities was held Thursday night in Manhattan, and featured both candidates for president. Father Gerald Murray, the pastor of Holy Family Church in New York City, was also incensed that Clinton suggested that Pope Francis was endorsing her…Continue Reading

Cardinal Kasper: Can the ‘remarried’ now receive communion? ‘Yes. Period.’

October 24, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — In a recent publication of the German journal Stimmen der Zeit (Journal for Christian Culture), Cardinal Walter Kasper published an article calling Amoris Laetitia a “paradigm shift” in the Church’s teaching. “Amoris Laetitia: Break or Beginning” is the title of a recent scientific article by Kasper in which he analyzes the post-synodal exhortation and provides his opinion on the right hermeneutic in reading it. In the first part called “Discussion…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood rips proposal to require father’s consent for abortion

SOUTH CAROLINA, October 21, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) is walking back suggestions it made last month that fathers of pre-born children consent for their mothers to abort them. The proposed regulations would possibly update abortion accident reporting requirements, requirements for abortion licensure, “complaint reporting, patient rights, infection control,” “record maintenance,” and “fire and life safety requirements,” according to the SCDHEC, which is accepting public comment on…Continue Reading

Philadelphia Archbishop Chaput welcomes ‘smaller church’ of holier Catholics

(RNS) In a stark prognosis for contemporary Catholicism, a leader of the conservative wing of the U.S. hierarchy has said that “a smaller, lighter church” of fewer but holier believers is preferable to one that promotes inclusion at the expense of traditional orthodoxy. In a speech delivered Wednesday (Oct. 19) at the University of Notre Dame, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput also suggested that many prominent Catholics are so weak in their faith that they ought…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Advance Medical Directives” (Conclusion)

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, “Euthanasia,” e-mail him at + + + We have seen that there are many problems associated with the standard Living Will, although…Continue Reading

Restoring The Rightful Place Of The Supreme Court In American Government

By STEPHEN M. KRASON (Editor’s Note: Stephen M. Krason’s Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic column appears monthly [sometimes bi-monthly] in Crisis. He is professor of political science and legal studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and president of…Continue Reading

Time To Pray Unceasingly . . . The Catholic Church Is Under Attack

By FR. MICHAEL P. ORSI The Gospel reading for Sunday, October 16 was Jesus’ parable about the persistent widow demanding of a corrupt judge that he render a fair verdict on her claim. The judge gives in “lest she finally come and strike me.” It’s a humorous anecdote which Jesus turns into an illustration of…Continue Reading

A Movie Review . . . Coming To God In An Unconventional Way

By REY FLORES “I see you dressed in white. Every wrong made right. I see a rose in bloom. At the sight of you (oh so priceless). Irreplaceable, unmistakable, incomparable. I see it all in you (oh so priceless).” The above are the closing lyrics for the song Priceless by country duo For King &…Continue Reading

A Disillusioned Marxist Professor

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK I spent much of my adult life observing left-wing academics who professed a fondness for socialism in one form or another. Some were my professors, others colleagues. More than a few were New Left Marxists who spoke openly in admiration of Mao, Fidel Castro, and the Sandinistas. One woman I taught…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Let Your Hearts Be Strengthened

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Thirty-Second Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: 2 Macc. 7:1-2, 9-14 2 Thess. 2:16-3:5 Luke 20:27-38 In the first reading today we hear about the heroic family who all suffered death at the hands of a tyrant who was trying to force the Jewish people to give up their faith because it made them different…Continue Reading

Cardinal Ratzinger’s 2004 Letter… Forbids Catholics To Vote For Hillary Clinton Under Pain Of Mortal Sin

(Editor’s Note: Below is a commentary The Wanderer is reprinting with permission from Catholics 4 Trump [catholics4trump], originally posted on October 11. All rights reserved. Catholics 4 Trump makes the case that a vote for the pro-abortion Hillary Clinton is objectively grave matter. Note the contrast between Trump’s and Clinton’s abortion stands in the third and final presidential debate on…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Pray Always And Never Grow Weary

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK A moment of dawning experience when I was young gave birth to a nearly perfect prayer. This farewell to innocence of which I speak was a blessing. In the light of it I came to know the presence of God through His goodness which is the heart of prayer in the life of faith. I…Continue Reading

What Is Faith?… Other Attributes Of God

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA Part 8 “I love thee, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18:1-2). The enthusiasm with which the psalmist praises God our Lord comes from his knowledge of God’s…Continue Reading

Confirmation In The Economy Of Salvation

By DON FIER Part 2 In the introductory paragraph of its section on the Sacrament of Confirmation, the Roman Catechism [RC], promulgated in 1566 by Pope St. Pius V soon after the Council of Trent, are the following words: “If there was ever a time when the Sacrament of Confirmation needed to be explained carefully, that time is now. All…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Colman Of Kilmacduagh

By CAROLE BRESLIN Ireland, the Emerald Isle, a green country of lush fauna, friendly people, and beautiful views — if you can find a clear day — has a rich and troubled heritage. It is a land full of the lore of elves, fairies, and, most important, Catholic saints. Numerous books have been written about the many Irish saints and…Continue Reading

Blessed Giuseppe Puglisi

By CAROLE BRESLIN When a society is riddled with evil and corruption, the worst thing we can do is to remain quiet. If we truly believe in God, then it is our obligation to do all we can to save the souls in danger of being lost in such a society. The threats and dangers of this world are not…Continue Reading