Saint Therese of the Child Jesus
of the Holy Face
Pope Francis's message for Lent 2015 quotes Saint Therese of Lisieux: "My desire is to continue to work for the Church and for souls"
Pope Francis's Lenten message offers St. Therese of Lisieux as an example of how the saints are not indifferent to us:
The prayers of the Church on earth establish a communion of mutual service and goodness which reaches up into the sight of God. Together with the saints who have found their fulfilment in God, we form part of that communion in which indifference is conquered by love. The Church in heaven is not triumphant because she has turned her back on the sufferings of the world and rejoices in splendid isolation. Rather, the saints already joyfully contemplate the fact that, through Jesus’ death and resurrection, they have triumphed once and for all over indifference, hardness of heart and hatred. Until this victory of love penetrates the whole world, the saints continue to accompany us on our pilgrim way. Saint Therese of Lisieux, a Doctor of the Church, expressed her conviction that the joy in heaven for the victory of crucified love remains incomplete as long as there is still a single man or woman on earth who suffers and cries out in pain: “I trust fully that I shall not remain idle in heaven; my desire is to continue to work for the Church and for souls” (Letter 254, July 14, 1897).
We share in the merits and joys of the saints, even as they share in our struggles and our longing for peace and reconciliation. Their joy in the victory of the Risen Christ gives us strength as we strive to overcome our indifference and hardness of heart.
[from the Vatican Web site]
Read Pope Francis's message for Lent 2015 in full. And read the letter the Pope cited from St. Therese (her last letter to her spiritual brother, Father Adolphe Roulland) at the Web site of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux.
Opening of diocesan process for sainthood for St. Therese's sister Leonie to be announced January 24, 2015 in France, according to the French press
Please see this story about the announcement of the opening of the diocesan process at "Leonie Martin, Disciple and Sister of St. Therese of Lisieux."
View the authentic and the retouched versions of the photos of Saint Therese of Lisieux: January 11, 2014
A series of photos of Therese which have been retouched by her sister Celine are presented side by side with the authentic photos by the Web site of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux to allow viewers to see that these retouched photos "promulgated a largely false image of Therese." Please view the authentic and the retouched versions of 22 photos of St. Therese at the Web site of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux.
The retouched photos and other paintings of Therese by Celine were circulated from 1898 through 1961. In 1961 (after Celine's death in 1959), the Carmel published the authentic photos of Therese in the two-volume Visage de Therese in French. It appeared in English as The Photo Album of St. Therese of Lisieux (New York: P. J. Kenedy & Sons, 1961). All 47 authentic, unretouched photos of Therese may now be viewed online at the Web site of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux.
To stay up to date, please subscribe to the newsletter of the Web site of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux. (This link leads to the page where you can enter your e-mail address in the box at the bottom of the page). You will then receive in your in-box occasional very short (one or two paragraphs) alerts (in both French and English) from the Archives with links to their newest postings.
When we realize that God is in love with our smallness, that he made himself small in order to better encounter us, we cannot help but open our hearts to him
Please see the beautiful photo of the wax doll of the newborn Jesus which was given to the Carmel of Lisieux in December 1895 by Therese's aunt and uncle, Isidore and Celine Guerin. The doll's hair is Therese's (cut when she was a child), and the Alencon lace on which the child is lying was made by Zelie Martin. The swansdown which lines the crib was part of the wedding dress Therese wore when she received the Habit on January 10, 1889; so was the child's tunic.
Thanks to the Web site of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux, we can recreate some scenes from Christmas 1895. This was the end of 1895, Therese's special year of grace, in which she wrote the first manuscript of Story of a Soul and offered herself to Mericful Love.
Writing to thank her parents, Therese's cousin, Sister Marie of the Eucharist, describes the scene when the gift arrived:
The reception of the case was an odd scene: all the little novices around the case, the dormitory was filled with our cries. Who would unpack the case: one was shouting: "I see a hand," another: "Oh! a pretty little head," and Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart was objecting and crying out in despair: "You will see, they will break it, they will not be satisfied until they do!"
It was a real comedy, or to express it better an impossible uproar. We could not be quiet until we each gave vent to our joy.
On the night of December 25, 1895, the Carmelites gathered for a paraliturgical celebration designed by Therese; it appears in The Plays of St. Therese of Lisieux, titled "The Divine Little Beggar of Christmas: Asking Alms from the Carmelites." Each nun knelt in turn before this image of the Child Jesus, drew a folded note from a basket, and handed it to Sister Marie of the Eucharist, who sang a verse telling the nun what Jesus asked of her. Therese drew the verse saying that she would be the little cluster of grapes: "Jesus will press you very strongly in his beloved hand." In this little work of art Therese shows that she did not consider the image of the baby Jesus or the feast of Christmas sentimental; instead, the Incarnate God, entering into human history, empties himself so profoundly as to beg the love of his own creatures.
Note that this wax doll no doubt appeared again in Therese's play The Flight into Egypt, produced on January 21, 1896 for the feast-day of the prioress, Mother Agnes of Jesus (Therese's sister Pauline).
See Therese and Lisieux by Pierre Descouvement and Helmut-Nils Loose (Toronto: Novalis, 1996, p. 156 and pp. 162-163) and The Plays of Saint Therese of Lisieux, tr. Susan Conroy and David J. Dwyer (Washington, D.C.: Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, 2008, pp. 221-246.