St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face
Virgin and Doctor of the Church
Feast Day: 1 October
Who was Thérèse?
A brief biography: adapted from www.sttherese.com
Quotes of St Thérèse
Marie-Françoise-Thérèse Martin was born in Alençon, France
on 2 January 1873. She was the last of nine children born to Louis and Zélie
Martin. Four of the children died before Thérèse was born - Joseph Louis,
Joseph-Jean-Baptiste and Mélanie-Thérèse who died in infancy and Hélène who
died when she was five. Thérèse and three of her surviving sisters Marie,
Pauline and Céline became Carmelite nuns in Lisieux in Normandy
a geographical region in the north-west of France. Her fourth sister Léonie
entered the Visitandine convent in Caen also in Normandy.
Thérèse was only four years old her mother Zélie Martin died. After this the
family moved to Les Buissonnets in Lisieux, the home where St Thérèse then
lived – and described as ‘the gracious nest of my childhood’ - until her entry
to the Lisieux Carmel in 1888. It was in Les Buissonnets in 1883 that Thérèse
through the smile of the Blessed Virgin Mary of
a mysterious illness which had left her seriously ill. It was also here that
she received the Grace
of Conversion, after
midnight Mass on 25 December 1886, about which she wrote in her autobiography
‘I felt charity enter into my soul, and the need to forget myself and to please
an early age Thérèse wanted to give herself to God; she
wrote that ‘from the age of three, I began to refuse nothing of
what God asked of me’; she described Céline’s First
Holy Communion as ‘one of the most beautiful days of my
life’; she became a Child of Mary; she attended daily Mass with
her father in the Cathedral of St Pierre in Lisieux. In May 1887 when
she was fourteen she asked for and got her father’s permission to
enter Carmel. Later that year, she travelled with her father and her
sister Céline to Rome where she asked Pope Leo XIII for his
permission to enter Carmel at the age of fifteen.
became a Carmelite ‘to save souls and to pray for priests’.
As a Carmelite nun Sr Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the
Holy Face devoted her life to God. She lived to a large extent in
silence and continual prayer and engaged in the work and recreations of
the community. She was initially assigned to the linen room and the
refectory and later became assistant sacristan and was placed in charge
of the novices in 1893. She undertook sewing, gardening, painting of
religious objects and was a prolific writer.
the writings of St Thérèse are infused with reference to
God and scripture and with prayerfulness. Her works include religious
plays, poems, specific prayers, hundreds of letters from before and
after her entry to Carmel and her autobiography which was written at the request of her Prioress and later called "Story of a Soul" in
which she articulated her Little Way of Spirituality and her Doctrine
of Love. In 1895 St Thérèse made her Act of Oblation
to Merciful Love (see below).
Thérèse became ill with tuberculosis in 1896 and suffered
greatly for almost two years. During this time she also suffered a
trial of faith and hope which she offered so that ‘the bright
flame of faith’ can shine for those who do not believe. Towards
the end of her life St Thérèse said she realized that her
mission was about to begin, and she vowed to spend her heaven doing
good on earth. She died on 30 September 1897 and was buried in the
Lisieux Cemetery on 4 October 1897. Before her canonisation in 1925 the
body of St Thérèse was brought to the Lisieux Carmel
where today there is a constant stream of visitors and pilgrims to the
St Thérèse Shrine. Her Universal Feast Day is celebrated
on 1 October each year.
us go forward in peace,
eyes upon Heaven,
only one goal of our labours.
the heart of the Church,
my Mother, I
shall be LOVE.”
will spend my Heaven
doing good upon earth.
than ever I realise
the smallest happenings of
our lives are guided by
My God, I choose
all that Thou willest!
can never have
the good God.
He is so mighty, so merciful...
wanted to love,
love Jesus with a passion
Him a thousand proofs of my love.
for me, is an
aspiration of the heart;
is a simple glance
rejoice to be little,
only children and those
are like them will be admitted
to the heavenly banquet.
St Thérèse's Offering to Merciful Love
St. Therese of Lisieux composed her Act of Oblation
to Merciful Love on June 9, 1895.
O My God! Most Blessed Trinity, I desire to Love You and make You
Loved, to work for the glory of Holy Church by saving souls on earth and
liberating those suffering in purgatory. I desire to accomplish Your will
perfectly and to reach the degree of glory You have prepared for me in Your
Kingdom. I desire, in a word, to be a saint, but I feel my helplessness and I
beg You, O my God! to be Yourself my Sanctity!
Since You loved me so much as to give me Your only Son as my Savior and my
Spouse, the infinite treasures of His merits are mine. I offer them to You with
gladness, begging You to look upon me only in the Face of Jesus and in His heart
burning with Love.
I offer You, too, all the merits of the saints (in heaven and on earth),
their acts of Love, and those of the holy angels. Finally, I offer You,
O Blessed Trinity! the Love and merits of the Blessed Virgin,
my dear Mother. It is to her I abandon my offering, begging her to present
it to You. Her Divine Son, my Beloved Spouse, told us in the days of His
mortal life: "Whatsoever you ask the Father in my name he will give it to
you!" I am certain, then, that You will grant my desires; I know, O my God!
that the more You want to give, the more You make us desire. I feel in my
heart immense desires and it is with confidence I ask You to come and take
possession of my soul. Ah! I cannot receive Holy Communion as often as I desire,
but, Lord, are You not all-powerful?Remain in me as in a tabernacle and
never separate Yourself from Your little victim.
I want to console You for the ingratitude of the wicked, and I beg of You to
take away my freedom to displease You. If through weakness I sometimes fall, may
Your Divine Glance cleanse my soul immediately, consuming all my
imperfections like the fire that transforms everything into itself.
I thank You, O my God! for all the graces You have granted me, especially the
grace of making me pass through the crucible of suffering. It is with joy I
shall contemplate You on the Last Day carrying the sceptre of Your Cross. Since
You deigned to give me a share in this very precious Cross, I hope in heaven to
resemble You and to see shining in my glorified body the sacred stigmata of Your
After earth's Exile, I hope to go and enjoy You in the Fatherland, but I do
not want to lay up merits for heaven. I want to work for Your Love alone
with the one purpose of pleasing You, consoling Your Sacred Heart, and saving
souls who will love You eternally.
In the evening of this life, I shall appear before You with empty hands, for
I do not ask You, Lord, to count my works. All our justice is stained in Your
eyes. I wish, then, to be clothed in Your own Justice and to receive from
Your Love the eternal possession of Yourself. I want no other
Throne, no other Crown but You, my Beloved! Time is nothing in Your eyes, and a single day is like a thousand years. You
can, then, in one instant prepare me to appear before You.
In order to live in one single act of perfect Love, I OFFER MYSELF AS A
VICTIM OF HOLOCAUST TO YOUR MERCIFUL LOVE, asking You to consume me incessantly,
allowing the waves of infinite tenderness shut up within You to overflow
into my soul, and that thus I may become a martyr of Your Love, O
my God! May this martyrdom, after having prepared me to appear before You, finally
cause me to die and may my soul take its flight without any delay into the
eternal embrace of Your Merciful Love.
I want, O my Beloved, at each beat of my heart to renew this offering
to You an infinite number of times, until the shadows having disappeared I may
be able to tell You of my Love in an Eternal Face to Face!
Marie, Francoise, Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, unworthy
This 9th day of June, Feast of the Most Holy
Trinity, in the year of grace, 1895.
Pope Francis and St Thérèse
his election in March 2013, Pope Francis has not hidden his love for
St. Therese. On the return flight from World Youth Day in Rio de
Janeiro in July 2013, a curious journalist asked him what he was
carrying in his hand-luggage. One of the items was a book on St Therese!
September 2013, Pope Francis called a special prayer service for peace
in Syria - and during the vigil in St Peter's square, verses from the
poetry of St Therese were used.
We can expect a lot more references to Therese from this Pope, who clearly has great devotion to her!
following article is an excerpt from the story “Una rosa
bianca da Santa Teresita” by Stefania Falasca, in the March 24,
2013 issue of Avvenire. It is translated from the French and courtesy of the Sanctuaire de Lisieux and reproduced here with kind permission of Maureen O'Riordan, author, "Saint Therese of Lisieux: A Gateway".
|“Do not be afraid to depend
solely on the tenderness of God as
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux did.”
who had the opportunity to be in contact with and establish a
friendship with Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio knows that he had the
habit of enclosing in his letters, no matter how short, . . . a picture
of the Carmelite saint, Thérèse of Lisieux. In this
way he wanted to emphasize his personal choice, full of meaning, of the
spiritual bond that united them.
the beginning of his pontificate, we saw Pope Francis give the
President of Argentina, Cristina Kirchner, a white rose, a sign of the
“little Thérèse” to whom he prays especially.
But why and from where did this fondness for Thérèse begin?
I was wondering about this very thing in Aparecida in 2007.
At the time, I met Cardinal Bergoglio briefly in front of the Brazilian
Marian Shrine between meetings of the Preparatory Committee of the
final document . . .
said to me, “Do not be afraid to depend solely on the tenderness
of God as Saint Thérèse of Lisieux did, who, for this
reason, is a beloved daughter of the Blessed Mother and a great
was [an invitation] to see the Church and her mission [as being] on the
road of the “little way” given by his teacher of Spiritual
Childhood, the way on which Pope Francis is beginning his Pontificate.
I learned a little later that, when he came to Rome, in between meetings Father would go to pray in front of a statue of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus in a little church run by the Franciscans in Borgo, near the Tiber.
In Buenos Aires also, his veneration of the Patroness of the Missions was well known by his priests, and it was spread particularly in the “villa miserias” [shantytowns, slums] of the Argentine capital [Buenos Aires].
now let’s get to the roses. Father Bergoglio had
returned to Rome at the end of 2007 for the Consistory. And with
him, the figure of little Thérèse reappeared: ”When
I have a problem,” he said to us, “I entrust it to
her. I don’t ask her to resolve it, but to take it into her
hands and help me; almost always, I receive a rose as a sign.”
told how one time, having made an important decision about a difficult
question, he put everything in St. Thérèse’s
hands. Some time later, in the doorway of the sacristy, a woman
he didn’t know gave him three white roses.
He explained that it was a Jesuit, Father Putigan, who in 1925 spread
a prayer seeking the intercession of St. Thérèse.
He then recited a passage from the prayer: “Little Flower of
Jesus, ask God to grant me the grace that I place with confidence in
the way he spoke, one felt a sense of his modesty united to a great
simplicity, a sincere trust, so much so that I, too, felt moved to
imitate him. In one particular instance, following his example, I
invoked the Saint, but, to my great disappointment, I received no
roses. At the first opportunity, I said to him by telephone,
“Father, you remember the story of the roses…Well,
nothing! Not one rose arrived for me. Of course, this
doesn’t surprise me; I understand…these things happen to
those who have already attained a certain level, like you, those who
are ‘in good standing.’ No one can say that I’m
a model of virtue…” The Pope was silent. Then,
in a very calm voice, he replied, “That means that she will
answer you and grant you a grace greater than the one you have asked
for…” And it was really so.
St Therese website, including an account of the visit of her relics to Ireland in 2001:
Poem by St. Thérèse: "My Song for Today"
Prayer for the Feast Day
My Song for Today
My life is but an instant, a passing hour.
My life is but a day that escapes and flies away.
O my God! You know that to love you on earth I only have today!...
Oh, I love you, Jesus! My soul yearns for you.
For just one day remain my sweet support.
Come reign in my heart, give me your smile. Just for today!
Lord, what does it matter if the future is gloomy?
Oh pray for tomorrow, oh no, I cannot!...
Keep my heart pure, cover me with your shadow. Just for today.
There are 14 stanzas total in this poem.
To read the entire poem click here
O God, who open your Kingdom
to those who are humble and to little ones, lead us to follow trustingly in the little way of Saint
so that through her intercession
we may see your eternal glory revealed. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Account of the visit of St. Therese's relics to our Carmel here in Kilmacud in 2001:
Relics visit 2001
Website for the centenary of St Therese in 1997:
“Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: A Gateway” with information, mailing list and blog by Maureen O’Riordan: http://www.thereseoflisieux.org
Society of the Little Flower, spreading devotion to St Therese:
TO THE PAGE ABOUT CARMELITE SAINTS