The Little Flower
St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face is one of the Church’s most popular saints. Thérèse was born in 1873 to Louis Martin, a watchmaker, and Zelie Guerin, a lace-maker. She was one of nine children, four of whom died very young. Thérèse suffered greatly in her early life due to the death of her mother, and she endured years of very difficult mental anguish. Thérèse’s faith was strong, and she became a Carmelite nun at the early age of fifteen, after requesting the special permission of her bishop and the pope. She lived in the Carmelite convent of Lisieux, France, joining two of her sisters there. Her other two sisters also became nuns.
Her nine years there seemed uneventful and ordinary, yet were very heroic. Thérèse realized that sanctity could be achieved in and through the simple routines and daily work of life. Instead of ambitiously seeking to do great things, she contented herself with following her “little way” – simple trust in and love for God, and the attempt to glorify Him in everything she did, no matter how insignificant. She considered herself the “little flower,” more ordinary than a rose, unseen by the world, yet beautiful and cherished by God nonetheless.
She once said, “I prefer the monotony of obscure sacrifice to all ecstasies. To pick up a pin for love can convert a soul.” Thérèse suffered from poor health all her life, but, in spite of her frailty, she spent many hours of hard work in the convent laundry and refectory.
During her last year of life, she contracted tuberculosis and suffered greatly before dying at the very young age of twenty-four. (The day of her death she murmured, “I would not suffer less.”) Her Autobiography, written in obedience to her superiors, was later published under the title The Story of a Soul. As she died, she clutched a crucifix, and repeated, “Oh, how I love Him!”
She was canonized a saint, and in 1997 was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II.
Other Saints We Remember Today
St. Remigius (Remi) (530), Bishop