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About St. Therese of Lisieux

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Young Therese“I will let fall from heaven a shower of roses.” These words of St. Therese of Lisieux have become the most recognizable symbol for this beautiful saint. Known as “The Little Flower” by many, St. Therese’s life was one of simplicity, humility, and practicing “The Little Way” by which she sought to attain eternal life with Christ.

Louis and Zelie Martin Parent of St. Therese of LisieuxTherese Martin was born January 2, 1873, in Alencon, France. Her parents, Louis and Zelie Martin, were a very holy couple - each of them had discerned religious life prior to meeting each other (they have even been beatified by the Church!). Their blessed marriage produced nine children - five of whom survived to adulthood. When she was four years old, St. Therese’s mother died from breast cancer. At this time, her father and older sisters took to caring for her, doting on her and seeing that she was well provided for. They moved to Lisieux, France, to be with family. As a child, St. Therese would hide in her room, between the bed and the wall. When asked what she was doing, she responded “Thinking about heaven.” When St. Therese was nine years old, she came down with an illness that kept her in bed. She was having what was described as “nervous tremors” puzzling the doctor and worrying her family. When St. Therese gazed upon a statue of the Virgin Mary, she declared that she was healed. She wrote “Our Blessed Lady has come to me, she has smiled upon me. How happy I am.” As a young child, St. Therese clearly had a very personal connection with heaven.

The Family of St. ThereseYet, due to the special treatment she received from her family as the baby, she became somewhat selfish, wanting everything. One day her older sister felt she had outgrown her dolls, and offered the items to her younger sisters. Celine, St. Therese’s next oldest sister, took one item from the box that was offered to her. When it came time for St. Therese to choose, she said “I choose all!” and took the entire box. This fervor would become a symbol of her spiritual life as she grew older. At the age of fourteen, St. Therese had a conversion experience at Christmas time, when she overheard her father say that she was getting too old for the silly traditions of children. St. Therese was hurt and crushed at first, but came to realize that it was time for her to mature and be aware of others more than herself. She began to read “The Imitation of Christ” by Thomas a Kempis very intently. She kept this book with her, memorizing much of it.

That summer, St. Therese heard of a man convicted of murder who was on death row. He was unrepentant, and she was concerned for his soul. She prayed every day that he would have a conversion before facing his death. The man continued to be angry and spiteful, shunning any attempts by priests to hear his confession. He showed no remorse up until just before his death, when it was reported that just as his neck was placed on the guillotine, he grabbed a crucifix and kissed it three times. St. Therese was ecstatic upon hearing this, and took it to mean that her prayers had been answered. She continued to turn her eyes on the needs of others, praying for them and their salvation.

Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy FaceWhen St. Therese was fifteen, she and her father made a pilgrimage to Rome. Her two older sisters, Pauline and Marie, had entered the Carmelite convent, and St. Therese longed to join the order, too. (Her sister Celine would follow them once their father had died, and their other sister Leonie, would become a Visitation sister.) When meeting the pope, St. Therese asked him personally for permission to enter the Carmelite order, even though she was too young. She told him that if he gave her permission, she would certainly be allowed in. He told her that if it was God’s will, she would most certainly enter. Upon returning home, the bishop granted her the permission she needed, and she began her postulancy in 1888. She took the name “Sr. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.” She dedicated her life to simple acts, for she believed that it was the daily, small tasks that made one holy. This became known as St. Therese’s “Little Way” - that we are called to do ordinary things with extraordinary love.

While in the convent, St. Therese was asked to write her autobiography. It began as a project to be for her Mother Superior, but after her death, became the book by which she was made known to the world. Entitled “Story of a Soul,” this beautiful story details the great thoughts and insights of St. Therese’s interior life. It is considered to be a spiritual classic, and because of her writings, St. Therese was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II in 1997, one of only three females to be named as such (along with St. Catherine of Siena and St. Teresa of Avila).

Therese IllWhen St. Therese was 24 years old, her great struggle with tuberculosis came to an end. Her dying words were “My God - I love Thee!” The date was September 30, 1897. Her life in the cloister had been hidden away from many; however, as more people came to know of her story, her influence spread. As a result, her cause for sainthood was brought before the Vatican. She was named a saint by Pope Pius XI on May 17, 1925. Had she been alive at the time, she would only have been 52 years old!

While alive, St. Therese made two promises that have been ringing true since her death. The first, “I will spend my heaven doing good on earth”, and the second, “I will let fall from heaven a shower of roses,” mark the way by which St. Therese often communicates with those who seek her intercession. The “St. Therese Rose Novena” is a common prayer seeking her aid, in which many people have reported God answering their prayers through roses - sometimes physical roses appear, other times the scent of roses. Sometimes roses are not a part of the answered prayer, nor are they required to know God hears and cares about us. However, this particular outward sign is unique, and as such, noteworthy when discovering the beautiful and special ways of St. Therese.

A young Therese dress as Joan of Arc

Patronage

St. Therese of Lisieux is the patron saint of florists, foreign missions, loss of parents, priests, and the sick (particularly those with tuberculosis). St. Therese was named the patron saint of foreign missions in 1927 by Pope Pius XI. This may seem like an odd connection, considering she was a cloistered nun; however, she often expressed her desire to be a missionary and spread the love of God throughout the world. Because of her prayers for people the world over from within the cloister, she was bestowed with this patronage.


St. Therese in Art

Because St. Therese is a rather modern saint, photographs of her at different stages in her life are widespread. Due to this, artwork of St. Therese may vary, depending on the age that is depicted. As a young girl, St. Therese is often pictured with her hair in curls, wearing a dress, and smiling. In a picture from when she was fifteen, she has her hair done up on top of her head in a bun, in an attempt to look older when asking the pope to allow her to enter the convent. Most artwork featuring St. Therese shows her in the habit of a Carmelite - either a white or black veil, a brown habit, and sometimes, a cream-colored cloak. She is often holding a crucifix and an armful of roses. Another common depiction of her shows her in costume with her arms in shackles, or in armor with a sword. Each of these pictures is from a play that the sisters put on in the convent, in which St. Therese played the part of St. Joan of Arc.

St Therese MedalReligious Medals of St. Therese of Lisieux

St. Therese of Lisieux is the patron saint of florists, foreign missions, loss of parents, priests, and the sick (particularly those with tuberculosis). St. Therese was named the patron saint of foreign missions in 1927 by Pope Pius XI.


Prayers of St. Therese

Let Saint Therese of Lisieux be your partner in prayer as you say the novena or one of the prayers below or as part of your rosary devotion. Find Saint Therese Rosary Beads here

Prayer to St. Therese


Dear Little Flower of Lisieux, how wonderful was the short life you led.
Though cloistered, you went far and wide through fervent prayers and great sufferings. You obtained from God untold helps and graces for his evangelists. Help all missionaries in their work and teach all of us to spread Christianity in our own neighborhoods and family circles. Amen.


Rose Prayer of St. Therese

St. Therese, the Little Flower, please pick me a rose from the heavenly garden and send it to me with a message of love; ask God to grant me the favor I thee implore and tell Him I will love Him each day more and more. Amen.

St Therese, the Blessed Mother and the Child Jesus

Act of Oblation as Victim to God's Merciful Love
(Composed by St. Thérèse)

In order that my life may be one act of perfect Love, I offer myself as a victim of holocaust to Thy merciful Love, imploring Thee to consume me unceasingly, and to allow the floods of infinite tenderness gathered up in Thee to overflow into my soul, so that I may become a very martyr to Thy Love, O my God. May this martyrdom, after having prepared me to appear in Thy presence, free me from this life at the last and my soul take flight -- without delay -- into eternal embrace of Thy Merciful Love.
O my Beloved! I desire at every beat of my heart to renew this oblation an infinite number of times, 'till the shadows retire,' and everlastingly I can tell Thee my love face to face. Amen.

Prayer for Healing

Dearest Saint Therese, you are the Little Flower of Jesus. Pray this day that I may be made well in body, mind, and spirit. Help me to always see, as you so clearly did, that my sufferings and trials are meant to cleanse and purify me so that I may be more worthy to receive God's unending Love. Amen.

A Novena to Saint Therese

(say all 7 prayers for 9 consecutive days).
O great Saint Therese, through your devotion and prayer life, you lived an example of your love for God. Help me to grow closer to God, living in honesty with myself and with others. Teach me to grow in faith, believing that He will always hear my prayers. I pray that I may be strengthened by God's love and renewed in my spiritual commitment. Amen.


O Saint Therese, help me to release my fears to you. Open my heart to God's love and send a "shower of roses" to intercede for me in times of need. Bring my prayer requests before the Lord: (mention your needs here). With your loving care, reach out to all of God's people who seek His unconditional forgiveness. Please fill us with patience and peace of mind, and guide us with your gentle hand. Amen.


Beloved Saint Therese, you showed us how to live in God's example through your "little way." Lead us to the light of God and the beauty of His Kingdom. Teach us how to see the good in everyone we meet and the beauty in ourselves. O Saint Therese, help me to remember that Our Lord waits for me at the end of this life. Keep me hopeful and longing for the day when I can meet you and all my departed loved ones in heaven. Amen.


O Saint Therese, you suffered silently the unbearable pain of your illness--please be with me and my loved ones during our times of suffering. Help me to understand God's Will. Through my suffering, help me to better understand the trials others face. O Saint Therese, strengthen me emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Bring comfort to all who whisper your name in prayer and heal them with your loving way. Amen.


I pray to you, Saint Therese, to show me the way to the Lord. Lead me to live for His glory and honor. You gave your life and death to the Lord as a sacrifice for others' salvation. Pray that I may become like you, and that He may welcome my acts of kindness toward others as a humble offering. Amen.


I pray to you, Saint Therese, to help me face each day with God in my heart and by my side. Show me how to see God in everything around me and to grow closer to Him in my triumph and failure, joy, and sorrow. Remind me that He is everywhere, and that He will be there to brighten even my darkest days. Let your devotion be a steady inspiration for me, and give me the strength and courage I need to follow the path to God. Amen.


Loving Saint Therese, pray for me that I may not stray from the Lord. Help me to face temptation with strength and resolve. Make your deep love for God an inspiration for me. Help me to grow closer to God and abandon myself to His Love, so that I may one day rejoice with you in heaven! Amen.


St. Therese Prayer for Vocations

St. Therese, Little Flower, you are "love in the heart of the Church." You dedicated your life as a Carmelite Nun for good Priests to serve God's people. From your privileged place in God's Heart, I ask you to stir up responsive hearts in young men to follow Jesus as good and holy priests and religious. Bless our Church with loyal servants of the Gospel.
Renew our Church in love by igniting the love of the young men Jesus calls. We need your help, intercession, and intervention today, Beloved Patron of Priests. Amen.