Novena to St Therese 2015
22nd - 30th September
Feast Day: 1 October

After reflecting on the given text from the writings of St Therese for each day, the prayer given at the bottom should be recited. We pray with and for you as you journey with St. Thérèse for these nine days.

You may also wish to look at our novena from 2013 which was written by the Sisters at Kilmacud and also the novena from 2014 which contains texts from Therese on different themes..

Quick Links:      Day 1    Day 2    Day 3    Day 4    Day 5   
                            Day 6    Day 7    Day 8    Day 9    Feast day

Novena Day 1:  22nd September

St Therese and her mother Zelie Martin

Therese's mother Zelie died from breast cancer when Therese was only four years old. And yet, even in these early years, Therese remembers showing her parents much affection. She wrote: "I loved Mama and Papa very much and showed my tenderness for them in a thousand ways, for I was very expressive." One of the extant letters of Zelie Martin describes an incident when Therese was small: "The little one has just placed her hand on my face and kissed me. This poor little thing doesn't want to leave me; she's continually at my side. She likes going into the garden but when I'm not there she won't stay but cries till they bring her to me."

Therese wrote that she remembered the final weeks of her mother’s illness, and also her last anointing. She writes about her final goodbye to her mother: “The day of Mama’s departure or the day after, Papa took me in his arms and said: “Come, kiss your poor little Mother for the last time. Without a word I placed my lips on her forehead. I don’t recall having cried very much, neither did I speak to anyone about the feelings I experienced. I looked and listened in silence”.

Zelie Martin will be canonised on 18th October 2015 by Pope Francis along with her husband Louis.

On this first day of our novena, as we reflect on Therese’s relationship with her mother, let us pray for all mothers and all expectant mothers. Let us pray for children who lose a parent at a young age, and let us pray for all those who suffer from cancer.


Novena Day 2:  23rd September

St Thérèse and her sister Pauline

After her mother died, Thérèse chose her sister Pauline as her new mother, crying out: “It’s Pauline who will be my Mama”.  Pauline was the second eldest in the family, and twelve years older than Thérèse. Over the next five years, Pauline took on the role of educating Thérèse, and preparing her for First Confession. At the age of twenty one, she decided to enter the Carmelite convent in Lisieux, the first of the Martin sisters to do so. Her name became Sr Agnes of Jesus.

The loss of her second mother deeply affected young Therese. She wrote: “How can I express the anguish of my heart! I shed bitter tears because I did not yet understand the joy of sacrifice… it was as if a sword were buried in my heart”. Pauline then explained to
Thérèse about the Carmelite vocation, and this sowed the seeds for Thérèse to follow her some years later. In those years, Thérèse and Pauline communicated regularly by letter. Thérèse wrote: “My greatest consolation when I was sick was to receive a letter from you Pauline. I read and reread it until I knew it by heart.”  To Thérèse’s great joy, her First Holy Communion occurred on the same day as Pauline’s profession of vows at the Carmel.

Five years after Therese’s entrance, Pauline was elected Prioress of the Carmel at the age of 32, and the following year she ordered Thérèse to write her childhood memoirs. We can be grateful for this because the “Story of a Soul” made Thérèse one of the best known and loved saints of our day. After the death of Thérèse, Pauline held the role of Prioress almost continuously until she died, and worked hard during the process of her little sister’s canonisation. Pauline died in 1951 at the age of 90.

Today let us pray for all those in leadership in society or in the Church, for catechists, teachers, youth leaders and all those who care for and support the young.


Novena Day 3:  24th September

St Thérèse and her uncle Isidore Guerin

After her father Louis (whom we will focus on another day), the next most significant man in St Thérèse’s life was probably her uncle Isidore Guerin, her mother’s brother. He was a pharmacist by trade and lived in Lisieux. It was he who suggested to Louis to move his family to live there after the death of Zelie.

Thérèse admits that he frightened her, and says: “I wasn’t as much at ease in his home”. She goes on: “I listened with great pleasure… but I didn’t like it when he asked me questions. I was very much frightened when he placed me on his knee and sang Blue Beard in a formidable tone of voice”.  Near the end of her life, Thérèse still felt overawed by him and said once after a parlour visit at the Carmel: “How shy I was in the parlour with Uncle!” However, Isidore must have dearly loved his little niece, because Thérèse tells us: “He used to call me his little ray of sunshine”. When she was ill, Isidore and his wife cared for her. Thérèse wrote: “Uncle and Aunt were very good to me… other friends of the family came to visit me, but…  the only visit I liked was that of Uncle and Aunt.”

When Thérèse had obtained permission from her father to enter Carmel at the age of 15, she next approached her Uncle Isidore: “It was with great trembling I confided my resolution to Uncle. He showed me great tenderness but did not grant me his permission to leave. He said that for him to allow me to leave would require a miracle… My only consolation was prayer. I begged Jesus to perform the miracle demanded… On the fourth day I went to see Uncle. He began by making some gentle reproaches because I appeared to be afraid of him, and then he said it wasn’t necessary to beg for a miracle… Uncle was no longer the same… He told me I was a little flower God wanted to gather, and he would no longer oppose it!”

Today, as we remember Isidore Guerin, let us pray for all those in the medical profession – all doctors, nurses, health-care workers of all kinds and pharmacists.


Novena Day 4:  25th September

St Thérèse and her sister Leonie

Leonie Martin was ten years older than Thérèse. She became known as the “difficult one”. She was unruly, slow to learn and disruptive of family peace. She suffered one illness after another. When she was eleven she was expelled from school for her wildness, but with her mother’s help she gradually grew into a gentle, loving girl.

Thérèse shared the family concern for Leonie, praying constantly for her. In “Story of a Soul”, she speaks of Leonie with great love: “Dear little Leonie held a warm place in my heart. She was very fond of me and in the evenings when the family took a walk she used to take care of me. I still seem to hear those beautiful lullabies she used to sing to me to get me to sleep. She was always trying to find ways of pleasing me...”

There is a famous story connecting the two sisters: “One day, Leonie, thinking she was too big to be playing any longer with dolls, came to us with a basket filled with dresses and pretty pieces for making others... “Here my little sisters, choose; I’m giving you all this”. Celine stretched out her hand and took a little ball of wool ... After a moment’s reflection, I stretched out mine saying: “I choose all!” and I took the basket without further ceremony.” Later in life, Thérèse was not afraid to choose all that God sent, even suffering.

Leonie acted as Thérèse’s godmother for her Confirmation. Thérèse writes: “she was so much moved that she was unable all through the ceremony to hold back her tears”. As an adult, Leonie made several attempts to join the Visitation convent at Caen. Thérèse encouraged her and wrote to her from the Carmel saying: “I love you a thousand times more tenderly than ordinary sisters love one another”, and she offered her profession for the intention of Leonie’s perseverance. It wasn’t until after Thérèse’s death, however, that Leonie was able to remain at the convent. She had many years of suffering ahead, but with the inspiration of her little sister, Leonie became a very holy woman herself. She died in 1941 and the cause for her canonisation has recently been opened.

Today let us pray for all those struggling with personality disorders, for parents coping with difficult children, for all those who are ill in body or mind, and for all who are struggling to persevere with a religious vocation.


Novena Day 5:  26th September

St Thérèse and her four siblings who died

St Thérèse was the youngest of nine children born to Louis and Zelie Martin. Four of their children, two boys and two girls died in infancy or early childhood between the years 1867 and 1870: Joseph-Louis, died Feb 1867 aged 6 months, Joseph-Jean-Baptiste died Aug 1868 aged 8 months, Helene (pictured) died Feb 1870 aged five and half and Melanie died Oct 1870 aged two months.

 Thérèse had a beautiful bond with her four little siblings in heaven. She writes about a time when she suffered from bad scruples, and turned to them in heaven for help:

 “I addressed myself to the four angels who had preceded me there, for I thought that these innocent souls, having never known troubles or fear, would have pity on their poor little sister who was suffering on earth. I spoke to them with the simplicity of a child, pointing out that being the youngest of the family, I was always the most loved, the most covered with my sisters’ tender cares, that if they had remained on earth they, too, would have given me proofs of their affection. Their departure for heaven did not seem to me as a reason for forgetting me; on the contrary, finding themselves in a position to draw from the divine treasures, they had to take peace for me from these treasures and thus show me that in heaven they still knew how to love! The answer was not long in coming, for soon peace came to inundate my soul with its delightful waves, and I knew then that if I was loved on earth, I was also loved in heaven. Since that moment, my devotion for my little brothers and sisters has grown and I love to hold dialogues with them frequently, to speak with them about the sadness of our exile, about my desire to join them soon in the Fatherland!”

Today let us pray for all those who have died and ask them to help us in our troubles. Let us remember parents who have lost children, and for all sick children.


Novena Day 6:  27th September

St Thérèse and her father Louis Martin

Thérèse’s relationship with her father Louis taught her from an early age how to relate to God. Once she said: “How wonderful it is to call the Good God, ‘Papa’”. Therese called Louis her “King” and he called her his “little Queen”. She recognised how, after her mother’s death, he also took on a maternal role: “Father’s very affectionate heart seemed to be enriched now with a truly maternal love!”

 As a child, Thérèse loved to go for walks with her father. He took her fishing with him, and also around the town of Lisieux. Therese wrote: “During the walks I took with Papa, he loved to have me bring alms to the poor we met on the way… All along the way to church and even in the church Papa’s little Queen held his hand. Her place was by his side… two chairs had to be found side by side.”

 When Thérèse was fourteen, she decided to ask her father’s permission to enter the Carmelite convent in Lisieux. She wrote: “How should I speak to him about parting from his Queen… what interior struggles I went through”. She chose the feast of Pentecost to speak to him. “Without saying a word, I sat down by his side, my eyes already wet with tears. He gazed at me tenderly, and taking my head he placed it on his heart, saying: “What’s the matter, my little Queen?”…. Through my tears, I confided my desire to enter Carmel, and soon his tears mingled with mine… In his deep faith he cried out that God was giving him a great honour in asking his children from him…”

After she had entered Carmel, Louis developed a mental illness and was institutionalised for three years. Thérèse suffered great anguish during this time, out of love for him - a time which she referred to as a “martyrdom” and “a painful passion”. Louis died in 1894. He will be canonised on 18th October 2015 by Pope Francis along with his wife Zelie.

Today let us pray for all fathers, both natural and spiritual. Let us pray also for all those who suffer from mental illness.


Novena Day 7:  28th September

St Thérèse and her sister Marie

The eldest in the Martin family was Marie, 13 years older than Thérèse. She was Thérèse’s godmother. Their mother wrote once in a letter: “Marie loves her little sister very much. She finds her very good, and it would be difficult for her to think otherwise since this poor little thing has a great fear of causing Marie any trouble”. Thérèse herself wrote: “I was very fond of my godmother. I was very good and did everything she wanted. She gave me a lot of gifts, and in spite of their insignificant value these pleased me a lot”.

 Thérèse describes a time when she got sick at her Uncle’s house: “Poor Marie was obliged to come and live at Uncle’s because it was impossible to bring me back at the time… Marie was always by my bedside taking care of me and consoling me with a mother’s tenderness. Never did she show the slightest sign of annoyance, and still I gave her a lot of trouble, not even allowing her to be away from me.  Some years later, Marie was the one who prepared Thérèse for First Communion and as Thérèse said: “guided, consoled, and added me in the practice of virtue”. Marie also helped her with scruples: “what patience my dear Marie needed to listen to me without showing any annoyance!”

Marie became a Carmelite about 18 months before Thérèse, taking the name Sr. Marie of the Sacred Heart. After that, their roles seemed to be reversed, and Marie then turned to Thérèse for support. When Thérèse’s life was nearing an end, Marie asked her to write an account of her last retreat: “The secrets of Jesus to Therese are sweet, and I would like to hear about them… Write me a short note… Ask Jesus to love me, too, as He does His little Thérèse”. We can be grateful to Marie for this request, because Thérèse’s response was the famous “Manuscript B” which contains the account of her “little way”, the discovery of her own vocation to be “love in the heart of the Church”. Thérèse wrote a personal word for Marie, which she sent with the Manuscript: “these secrets He confides to you, I know, for you are the one who taught me… do not believe I am swimming in consolations; oh no! My consolation is to have none on earth.” Marie died in 1940.

Today let us pray that religious men and women may be renewed in their vocation to be “love in the heart of the Church”. Let us pray for vocations to religious life.


Novena Day 8:  29th September

St Thérèse and her cousins Jeanne and Marie

Thérèse did not have many cousins, but after her family moved to Lisieux, she had the chance to spend time with Jeanne and Marie Guerin – daughters of her uncle Isidore. Jeanne was five years older than Thérèse, and Marie was two and a half years older. Thérèse says in her autobiography: “I was very fortunate in having such nice little cousins. I loved them very much…”

Thérèse was particularly close to Marie as a child. She says: “What pleased me was when by chance I was alone with little Marie… I chose a game that was entirely new. Marie and Thérèse became two hermits… everything was done with such mutual understanding, silence and so religiously that it was just perfect.  The two hermits recited the rosary together… Cousin Marie and I were always of the same opinion… one evening I said to Marie: “Lead me, I’m going to close my eyes”. “I want to close mine too,” she replied… We were on a sidewalk and there was nothing to fear from vehicles; having savoured the delights of walking without seeing, the two little scamps fell together on some cases placed at the door of a store, or rather, they tipped them over. The merchant came out in a rage to lift up his merchandise, while the two blind ones lifted themselves up alone and walked off at great strides, eyes wide open, listening to the just reproaches of Jeanne who was as angry as the merchant!” Marie later followed Thérèse and became a nun at the Carmelite convent in Lisieux with the name Sr Marie of the Eucharist.

Jeanne married a doctor called Francis LaNeele, who occasionally attended to Thérèse during her final illness at the Carmel.  The marriage of Jeanne and Francis occurred around the time of Thérèse’s Profession, as she noted in her book: “It would be impossible for me to tell you how much I learned from her example concerning the delicate attentions a bride can bestow upon her bridegroom. I listened eagerly to what she was saying… since I didn’t want to do less for my beloved Jesus than Jeanne did for her Francis… I even went so far as to composing a letter of invitation which was comparable to Jeanne’s own letter…”

Today let us pray for those who are blind, deaf or impaired in their movements. Let us pray for young people preparing for marriage and for all newly-weds.


Novena Day 9:  30th September

St Thérèse and her sister Céline

On this last day of the novena, we come at last to focus on Céline, the closest family member in age to Therese. And they weren’t only closest in age. Therese called her “Dear Céline, sweet echo of my soul”, and “the little companion of my childhood”. She wrote about their relationship: “We understood each other very well, only I was much more lively and less naïve than she; although I was three and a half years younger, it seemed to me we were the same age”. Their mother Zelie also wrote about their closeness: “Céline and Therese are inseparable and it’s impossible to see two children love each other so much. When Marie comes to get Céline for her classes, poor Therese begins to cry.”

Céline was a talented artist, and gave lessons to Therese, who also proved to have an aptitude for art. According to Therese, the two of them also “carried on spiritual conferences together frequently”. She describes these as follows: “Céline had become the confidante of my thoughts.....Jesus wanting us to advance together formed bonds in our hearts stronger than blood.  He made us become spiritual sisters....How sweet were the conversations we held each evening…” Céline was also a great support to Therese at the Benedictine Abbey in Lisieux. Therese wrote: “The five years I spent in school were the saddest in my life, and if I hadn’t had Céline with me, I couldn’t have remained there and would have become sick in a month.”  But Therese also admits that “at times there were little arguments.” Céline apparently took such good care of Therese’s health that Therese was “wearied of her at times”.

Céline’s First Holy Communion was a very special time for Therese. She followed all her preparations and said she never loved her as much as during those days. On the day itself, Therese said she was “inundated with joy” and that it was one of the most beautiful days of her life. It was Céline who cared for their father until his death. After that, she too entered the Carmel in Lisieux, taking the name Sr Genevieve of the Holy Face. She was the last of the family to die, in 1959.

 On this last day of the novena, let us pray for all our own personal family members and friends, and for all who have been following this novena with us.


Feast Day:  1st October

After the reflection for each day continue as follows:

(Mention petitions)

Recite the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be...

Prayer to St. Thérèse

St Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face:
teach us to follow your little way
of confidence and trust.

Help us to realise that a Father's love watches over us each day of our lives, in sorrow as in joy, in trials as in peace.

Obtain for us the graces we hope for from God's infinite goodness.

Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, pray for us.

Read our page about St Therese here 

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