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Her Life
A completely normal life

It is difficult to realise that the life of Thérèse Martin was a completely ordinary life. Because she became Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus of the Holy Face, known throughout the entire world, with numerous titles (Universal Patroness of the Missions, Secondary Patron of France, Doctor of the Church, etc.) one forgets that she passed almost unnoticed in her family, among her peers, in the Convent and with her Spiritual Director.… Perhaps the only time she would have been the object of notoriety was when word went around Lisieux about the young girl who had the audacity to speak with Pope Leo XIII during an audience in Rome (a national newspaper even made mention of it). She then entered the Carmelite Convent at the age of 15 years, 3 months. When she died, an unknown, in a small rural Carmelite convent, there were hardly 30 people at her burial in the Cemetery at Lisieux. Yet at her canonisation in Rome on the 17th May 1925, there were 500,000 present. How ?

So yes ! Hers was a very ordinary, hidden life.


Alençon (1873-1877)
The story begins with a Christian family in Alençon. The father was Louis Martin, a watchmaker and jeweller ; the mother was Zélie Guérin, a lace-maker. They had nine children, four of whom died in infancy. They were left with four daughters and then, at the age of 40 years, the mother discovered that she was expecting once more. Thérèse was born on the 2nd January 1873. She was a bright, lively, little girl and after spending one year in the care of a nurse (her mother was unable to nurse her) she returned to a happy life, surrounded by the love of her parents and sisters. This youngest girl received from her family a deep, lively and charitable faith. Everything was going well until Zélie Martin died from breast cancer (August 1877). Thérèse was 4½ years old.

It was a huge shock for the little Thérèse. She chose her sister Pauline as a second mother but the hurt brought on by the whole experience of her mother’s death was deep and would take 10 years to heal.



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