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 Saint Therese of the Child Jesus

of the Holy Face

125 Years Ago with Saint Therese: the wedding of Henry Maudelonde, Celine's second suitor, in April 1892

Let’s look at the life of Therese and her family 125 years ago, in April 1892.

Isidore Guerin's house in Lisieux (rear entrance)

 Life in the Lisieux Carmel in early 1892

From the first few months of 1892, few documents have been published.  The ranks of the Carmelite monastery had been depleted.  On December 5, 1891, Mother Genevieve of St. Teresa,1 the revered foundress, had died.  On December 26 the epidemic of influenza that swept over France reached the Carmel.  In eight days the three eldest nuns died: the Lisieux Carmel’s first postulant, Sister St. Joseph of Jesus (ACL); the subprioress,  Sister Febronie of the Holy Childhood (ACL), who found Therese’s belief that souls who trusted in God’s mercy would not go to purgatory excessively bold;  and Sister Madeleine of the Blessed Sacrament (ACL), the senior lay-sister, who had “a heart of gold.”  In this crisis, in which all but three of the nuns were bedridden, Therese, who turned 19 on January 2, 1892, showed such presence of mind in arranging the funerals, serving as sacristan for the Masses, and discharging other responsibilities that Canon Delatroette (ACL), the priest appointed ecclesiastical superior of the Carmel, who had thought her too young to enter at age fifteen, changed his mind and said prophetically “She shows great promise for this community.” 

Early in the year Father Pierre Faucon (ACL) completed his term as extraordinary confessor (the priest who, under canon law, visited the Carmel occasionally to give the nuns some variety and freedom in choosing a confessor other than their chaplain).  He was replaced by Father Eugene-Auguste Baillon (ACL).

The community's triennial elections should have been held in February, but, in view of the circumstances, the Carmelites obtained permission to extend the term of Mother Marie de Gonzague as prioress until February 1893. 

The correspondence of the Martin-Guerin family shows that Isidore Guerin had decided that Louis Martin could now return to his family (ACL) from the Bon Sauveur asylum in Caen, where he had been interned since February 12, 1889.  He would be brought back to Lisieux on May 10, 1892.

Before that, a big social event happened in the circle of the family of Therese’s uncle and aunt, Isidore and Celine Guerin (ACL): the wedding of Celine’s nephew, Henry Maudelonde (ACL), a former suitor of Therese’s sister Celine.    

The life of Leonie and Celine Martin with the Guerin family, beginning in 1889

Therese’s uncle, Isidore Guerin, had married Celine Fournet (ACL),  a daughter of the town’s leading family.  Her sister Rosalie (ACL) had married Cesar Maudelonde (ACL), with whom she had five children.  The Guerin and Maudelonde families were intimate, so that Therese and her sisters grew up as friends of the Maudelonde girls, too.  No photo of Henry has survived, but the Web site of the archives of the Carmel of Lisieux shows a photograph of the three Maudelonde daughters (ACL) with their mother and members of the Guerin family in 1893.

With the death of Celine Guerin’s cousin, M. David, in 1888, Isidore (through the property laws then in effect, which awarded a married woman’s inheritance to her husband) received a substantial fortune from his wife’s family.  This changed his way of life.  He sold the pharmacy (ACL), moved from the living quarters over the pharmacy to a bigger house in Lisieux (ACL)and every summer, in a kind of time-share, split with the Maudelondes the use of the Chateau La Musse (ACL), near Evreux.  (He had inherited the chateau jointly with them).  He gave even more energy to charitable and religious work and to writing to defend the Church.

Isidore’s new position gave him more leisure and placed more social demands on his family.  Leonie and Celine Martin became members of his family in May 1889, when they returned from Caen, where they had boarded for a few months at the beginning of Louis’s hospitalization at the Bon Sauveur asylum there.  Their uncle’s social position and his intimacy with the Maudelonde family obliged both young women to participate in the rather formal and structured social life then the custom for families like the Guerins.  This was in marked contrast to the sheltered life they had led at the little villa of Les Buissonnets, located some way from the center of town, where they had seen few people socially except the Guerins

Henry Maudelonde's courtship of Celine Martin (1890-1891)

In Celine’s memoirs (ACL) at p. 96, she notes that the Maudelonde young people were of an age to be married.  

“I arrived in the midst of this group of joyful and charming young people. It was a veritable change from life at Les Buissonnets . . .  One of the nieces of my aunt was engaged and there was an exchange of dinners between the two families.  . . . We found ourselves, therefore, often in the company of the nephews of my aunt. One of them . . . . developed an affectionate regard for me. Whether at his house, or at our house, he always managed to be close to me. Since he strongly protested when he was not so placed, one finished up finally relenting and placing him next to me at the dinner table so as to avoid making a scene.” 

Henry Maudelonde (1864-1937), five years Celine’s senior, was a lawyer at Caen.  His pursuit of Celine seems to have dated chiefly from 1890 and the first half of 1891.  At the wedding of Celine’s cousin, Jeanne Guerin (ACL), on October 1, 1890, Celine was a maid of honor.  Henry spent all day next to her and finally asked her aunt for permission to kiss her.  Then, on July 23, 1891, Therese wrote to Celine in terms that suggest that Henry had just made a definite proposal of marriage:  “The solicitor [pun on his profession] really made me laugh.  One must admit that he is not shy to come seeking the King of heaven’s fiancee.”  Letters of Saint Therese of Lisieux, Volume II, tr. John Clarke, OCD (Washington, D.C.: ICS Publications, 1988), LT 130, p. 792.  Therese never doubted that Celine was called to Carmel, and she firmly resisted the idea of marriage for Celine.  Celine, who had already refused a proposal on the night of Therese’s entrance, was attracted by the idea of marriage as well as by the cloister, and this posed a severe internal conflict for her.

But in 1889 she had made a private vow of chastity, and Henry finally must have accepted her refusal, for he became engaged to Marie Asseline. 

Henry Maudelonde's wedding in Caen, April 20, 1892

Leonie received a letter from her cousin Jeanne Guerin La Neele
(who now lived in Caen with her husband), written April 11, describing the elaborate preparations for this wedding on April 20.

Celine is suddenly, mysteriously unable to dance

Henry Maudelonde’s wedding was the occasion at which Celine was unable to dance.  Tberese recounts in Story of a Soul (ACL) how agitated she was at the thought of Celine’s consenting to dance at this party.  Celine’s memoir (ACL) shows (at pages 96-97) that Therese was vehement in urging her not to dance.  Perhaps Therese considered that a young unmarried woman’s consenting to dance was tantamount to announcing that she was on the marriage market, or perhaps she could not stand the thought of a young man's touching her sister.  Therese, who seldom cried, was so upset that she wept for a long time at the mere prospect of Celine’s dancing, and begged God to prevent it. Her reaction to a formal dance in public at a wedding that united two respectable families seems rather hysterical.  But, sure enough, when the evening came, Celine could not refuse the invitation, but found herself unable to dance and merely walked through the dance.  Her partner was embarrassed; he disappeared and did not return.  Therese said the incident “made me grow in confidence and love for the One who set his seal on my forehead and had imprinted it at the same time upon that of my dear Celine.”  (Story of a Soul, 82r).   

What happened to Celine's second suitor?

Marie and Henry Maudelonde had two children together, but Henry was left a widower in 1895.  He married again in 1899 and had three more children: an interesting contrast with Celine’s first suitor, Albert Quesnel, who, after Celine refused him, became a priest. Celine was the only one of the Martin girls to whom anyone is known to have proposed marriage.

[Note: I am especially grateful to the Lisieux Carmel for digitizing its archives.  I encourage you to visit the Web site of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux, which tells us so much about the background of Therese's life].

This is an interactive article.  To see photographs and background for the persons and events I mention, please click on the links in this article.

1 This link leads to the Web site of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux.  In this article, all links to that site are indicated by the notation "ACL" next to the text link.  

Learn more:

To learn more about this period in Therese's life, please see the links above and these books:

Therese's own recollections, at folios 78r-82r

Are you interested in learning more about Therese than she tells in Story of a Soul?  I highly recommend Guy Gaucher's indispensable complement to Story of a Soul:

and Therese's letters and those of her family, with rich introductions and notes:

Finally, a biography of Celine by Stephane-Joseph Piat:

 Purchases through these links support the Web site.  Thank you.

Three-minute video of the entrance to the Carmelite Monastery of Lisieux - Therese entered April 9, 1888

Thanks to the Carmelites of Lisieux, in this video you can see the monastery Therese entered, the garden, the cloister (with the same Cross, but not the same corpus, in the courtyard), and the door to the enclosure, located in the sacristy, which opened to receive Therese on the morning of April 9, 1888.  Cross the threshold with her and ask her to beg God for the graces you need in the transitions of your own life.

Entrée du monastère from Carmel de Lisieux on Vimeo.

The Solemn Translation of St. Therese's Relics from the Town Cemetery to the Lisieux Carmel, March 26, 1923



[On March 26, 1923, in view of the approaching beatification of the Venerable Therese of the Child Jesus, her relics were transferred ("translated") from the Carmelite plot in the municipal cemetery at Lisieux to the shrine which had been prepared for them in the chapel of the Carmelite monastery of Lisieux, where they remain to this day.  We thank the Archives of the Lisieux Carmel, which graciously permitted us to translate this contemporaneous account of the events of that day into English and to publish it].

Extracted from a brown leather-edged, but very thin top, bound book stored in the Glorification cabinet.  Title on the edge:  St. Th EJ her beatification [1]

Across the City

      LISIEUX had never before known such excitement as existed within its walls on the morning of  March 26, 1923, Monday of Holy Week.  Since yesterday, travelers from every direction had been pouring relentlessly out of the train station . . . Read more

125 Years Ago With Saint Therese: the death of Mother Genevieve, founder of the Lisieux Carmel, on December 5, 1891


Mother Genevieve of St. Teresa about 1860

On Saturday, December 5, 1891, Mother Genevieve of St. Therese, venerated as the founder of the Lisieux Carmel, died.  Therese recalls the experience of her death in Story of a Soul.

About Mother Genevieve

The future Mother Genevieve was born Claire-Marie-Radegonde Bertrand on July 5, 1805 in  Poitiers.  In 1830, at age 24, she entered the Carmel of Poitiers.1  About seven years later the Gosselin sisters, who wished to establish a Carmel with their family fortune, entered the community at Poitiers to make their novitiate.  In 1838, when the two sisters returned to Lisieux, they were accompanied by nuns from Poitiers, including the prioress of the new house, Mother Elizabeth of St. Louis, and the subprioress and novice mistress, Mother Genevieve of St. Therese.  A few years later Mother Elizabeth died.  Mother Genevieve succeeded her, and so  it was she who was considered the "foundress."  Her sisters, who loved her very much, elected her prioress as often as the Rule allowed until her health prevented her fulfilling the office any more

Mother Genevieve and the Martin sisters

Pauline Martin's entrance on October 2, 1882 fell during one of the periods when Mother Genevieve was not eligible to be elected a third term; Mother Marie de Gonzague was prioress at the time.  On January 31, 1883, Mother Genevieve was re-elected, so she held the office when Pauline received the habit.  At the end of 1884, Mother Genevieve became an invalid.  When the elections came around on February 3, 1886, it was clear that the 80-year-old founder was not well enough to serve, and Mother Gonzague was elected again.  Thus, Mother Gonzague was prioress when Marie Martin entered (October 15, 1886) and when  Therese followed (April 9, 1888).  Still, a close spiritual bond existed between Mother Genevieve and the Martin sisters, especially Pauline, whom she described as "our angelic novice," and Therese.

Mother Genevieve and Therese

The priest who supervised the Lisieux Carmel, Canon Jean-Baptiste Delatroette, vigorously opposed Therese's entrance.  When he was inside the enclosure visiting Mother Genevieve, she bravely (but in vain) asked him to consent to Therese's entrance.  

When she came to write her memoir, Therese mentioned Mother Genevieve three times.  She speaks of

my good fortune at knowing our holy Mother Geneviève. This certainly was a priceless gift; God, who had given me so many graces, willed that I should live with a saint. Not one that was inimitable, but one who was made holy by the practice of the hidden virtues, the ordinary virtues . . . . I saw the degree to which Jesus was living within her and making her act and speak. Ah! that type of sanctity seems the truest and the most holy to me, and it is the type that I desire because in it one meets with no deceptions.

 For a sensitive reflection on the influence of Mother Genevieve on St. Therese, and for the founder's role as a precursor of Therese's way of confidence and love, please see pages 131-133 of Therese of Lisieux: God's Gentle Warrior, by Thomas R. Nevin (New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 2005).2

Mother Genevieve dictated to young Sister Therese certain "secrets" (moments in her spiritual life and recollections of her childhood).  Read this "Remembrance of Mother Genevieve." 

The death of Mother Genevieve took place at the beginning of a severe winter.  An epidemic of influenza,  which would shortly claim the lives of three Carmelites, was sweeping over France.  Before it hit the community, the nuns joined the Carmelite Order in celebrating the third centenary of the death of St. John of the Cross, who died December 14, 1551.  To honor the anniversary, Fr. Deodat de Basly, a Franciscan Recollect of the same order as Fr. Alexis Prou, who had heard Therese's confession in October ("he launched me full sail upon the waves of confidence and love"), preached a triduum from November 23-25.  Therese recalls that Bishop Hugonin entered the cloister for this occasion and surrounded her with tenderness.  Mother Genevieve received "extreme unction," as the sacrament of the sick was then called, on the last day of the Triduum, November 25.  In a letter to Celine on that date, Pauline wrote:  

 Mother Geneviève was worse at the beginning of the week' now she is better, and, despite everything, she expects to die on Friday! One can tell she is convinced of it . . . how happy our holy Mother is! I find her face is imbued with celestial peace, one can sense that the port is nigh!"

It was early in the morning of Saturday, December 5, 1891, that the Bridegroom came for the 86-year-old founder.  This was the first time Therese, now 18, had seen death; she found it a "ravishing spectacle."  

 I was placed at the foot of the dying saint’s bed, and witnessed her slightest movements . . . . at the moment itself of our saintly Mother Geneviève’s birth in heaven . . . . I experienced an inexpressible joy and fervor; it was as though Mother Geneviève had imparted to me a little of the happiness she was enjoying, for I was convinced she went straight to heaven

 Read Therese's full account of the death of Mother Genevieve, together with account of her dream about Mother Genevieve after the latter's death, at the Web site of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux.

Mother Genevieve was so revered in the community and in the town that her body was laid out in the choir for a week.  See a photo of her body and several portraits taken during her lifetime.   She could not be interred immediately, for the local government did not at once consent to her burial within the monastery.  The town council eventually consented, and she was buried in the sanctuary of the Carmel chapel, near Father Sauvage, the priest-founder, on December 23, 1891.3   

 Mother Genevieve was indeed the "grain of wheat" of which Jesus speaks: "if it dies, it bears much fruit."  The fruit would become visible in only a few years.  


1The details of Mother Genevieve's childhood and her religious life are available in the little book, now happily online, "The Foundation of the Carmel of Lisieux and Its Foundress, Reverend Mother Genevieve of St. Teresa," translated by a religious of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus in 1913.  The title page lists as publishers the Carmel of Lisieux; St. Anselm's Society in London; and the Carmelite Convent in Philadelphia.  This short book is a valuable resource for those who want to understand the 50-year history of the Carmel Therese entered in 1888.  It points out that Mother Genevieve was considered the mother of the Carmels of Caen, Coutances, and Saigon (all founded from Lisieux), as well as of all the Carmels of the Far East, which were founded from Saigon.  

[Note that a purchase through the link supports this Web site].  

3  Sainte Therese de Lisieux (1873-1897), by Guy Gaucher, O.C.D.  Paris: Editions du Cerf, 2011, p. 349.

Posted on Sunday, December 4, 2016 at 11:41PM by Registered CommenterMaureen O'Riordan | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

New information published November 6, 2016: the speech by Bishop Germain which Therese of Lisieux, a pilgrim at Montmartre, heard on November 6, 1887

The Martin family pilgrimage to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Montmartre: November 6, 1887


Therese in April 1888, aged 15, five months after her visit to Montmartre

Today, on the anniversary of Therese's visit to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Montmartre, I have, thanks to the generosity of the Basilica, the joy of presenting for the first time an English translation of the speech she heard the bishop of Coutances give to the pilgrims that morning.  To relive the occasion with Therese, read on:

On Sunday, November 6, 1887, the 14-year-old Therese Martin, with her father, St. Louis Martin, and her 18-year-old sister, Celine, came to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Montmartre, on a hill outside Paris, to assemble, together with 194 other persons with whom they were to go on a pilgrimage to Rome.  The pilgrimage had been organized by the diocese of Coutances in honor of the 50th anniversary of the priestly ordination of Pope Leo XIII.  It was widely seen as a demonstration of the loyalty of the French church to the Pope, who was more or less a prisoner in the Vatican, and it was covered in the French and Italian press.  

Mgr Abel-Anastase Germain, bishop of Coutances. Photo credit: Wikipedia

The bishop of Coutances, Mgr Abel-Anastase Germain, accompanied the priests and lay persons from his diocese to Rome. Bishop Germain, who strongly encouraged exterior manifestations of the faith such as pilgrimages and processions, was known as an eloquent preacher.  The pilgrimage was directed by his vicar-general, abbé Legroux.   Therese’s own diocese, that of Bayeux and Lisieux, also participated in this pilgrimage as a diocese.  Her bishop was represented by his vicar-general, Msgr. Reverony.  Therese hoped that Msgr. Reverony might intercede with Bishop Hugonin to obtain permission for her to enter Carmel at the age of fifteen. 

Construction of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Montmartre in 1882, five years before Therese arrived. Photo credit: Wikipedia.This assembly at Montmartre, where only the crypt of the basilica was completed, was the first time that all the pilgrims had come together.  The Basilica of the Sacred Heart, a massive undertaking that took nearly 50 years to complete, was the fruit of a "national vow" made by the French Catholics after the defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870.  Read the story here.  

The Martins had arrived in Paris early on Friday morning,  November 4, and Louis had spent two days showing his two youngest daughters the sights of the capital.  Therese remembered chiefly visiting the Shrine of Notre Dame des Victoires, where she received an important Marian grace 

Discovering What the Pilgrims Did in the Basilica That Day 

I knew that all the pilgrims had participated in Mass and other ceremonies at Montmartre on Sunday, November 6, and had been consecrated to the Sacred Heart there before leaving Paris the next morning. I had often wondered whether any record of the ceremony existed, and I wrote to the Secretariat of the Basilica at Montmartre to inquire.  To my amazement, the Basilica had a copy of the November 10, 1887 issue of the Bulletin Mensuel de l’Oeuvre du Voeu National au Sacré Coeur de Jésus (Quartorzieme Annee) [Monthly Bulletin of the Work of the National Vow to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Fourteenth Year], T. XII, No. 11.  See the cover below:

Monthly Bulletin of the Work of the National Vow to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, published November 10, 1887, four days after Therese's visit

Recovering Bishop Germain's Speech to the Pilgrims 

The November 1887 issue contained a detailed description of the ceremony and the speech, verbatim, that Mgr Germain addressed to the pilgrims.  With the utmost kindness the Basilica sent it to me with permission to publish it and other illustrations.  I thank the Basilica for the honor of allowing you to read the very words heard by Therese on that Sunday 129 years ago.  First, see the original in French below: 

Detailed description of the ceremony and transcript of Bishop Germain's speech


Next, the English translation, which is copyright 2016 by Maureen O'Riordan.  All rights reserved.

"II. November’s pilgrimages and pilgrims

November’s pilgrimages were not as numerous as the autumn leaves falling from the trees, but they made up in their importance for what they lacked in numbers.

On November 6, 1887, at 9 o’clock in the morning, Mgr Germain, Bishop of Coutances, made his solemn entry into the apse of the crypt where 200 people of the dioceses of Coutances and Bayeux awaited him; these were pilgrims en route to Rome. Mgr Germain had told them “The first station of our great voyage to the tomb of the Apostles will take place in the sanctuary of Montmartre, at the altar of St Peter, erected by the generous gifts of the people of my diocese.”

This altar, placed in the center of the crypt, in a form like the buttress of the Chapel of Purgatory and the pedestal of the great dome. One reaches it via a great semi-circular stairway shared by six ranks of columns.  From the altar of St Peter, ornamented with lights and flowers, one sees the pilgrims grouped on the platform or scattered among the seven side chapels. 

Statue of St. Peter, seated, at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Montmartre. Photo credit: TripAdvisor.

St Peter, seated at his doctoral rostrum, a facsimile of the statue in Rome, seems to preside over the assembly; one might believe oneself part of a scene in the catacombs amidst a meeting of the first Christians around the first Pope. 

After celebrating Mass and distributing Holy Communion to the pilgrims, Mgr Germain, inspired by the place where he found himself, with a heart and in a language full of faith and love for the Sacred Heart and for St Peter, showed how their pilgrimage to Rome was the complete realization of the motto of the national Vow: Sacratissimo Cordi Jesu Cristi Gallix poenitens et devota ["France penitent and devoted to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ"], and how, in their station at Montmartre, the pilgrims from Coutances and Bayeux would learn to make this holy voyage with a spirit of penitence and devotion.

“1. We are gathered in the chapel of St Peter, he said. Isn’t Peter a model of penitence? You know [it] by how many tears, and what tears! He cried during his triple denial… Wasn’t Peter a model of devotions?

---Devotion of Knowledge by faith…. Don’t you hear him say to the Lord: You are the Christ, living son of God?... 

--Devotion of the will by obedience…  What does he respond to Jesus who commands him to toss out his net after a fruitless night of fishing? Master,  you tell me and I throw out my net again.

----Devotion of the heart through love… Don’t you seem to hear coming from this statue paid for by your pennies this response made by the head of the Apostles to the Savior: “Oh, yes, Lord, you know that I love you!”

“During our voyage let us all be moved, like St Peter, by the spirit of penitence, the spirit of faith, the spirit of obedience, and above all by the spirit of love: Oh! Yes, let us love like Peter!

II We are in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.. What shall we learn from the Heart of Jesus if not sacrifice and devotion! Didn’t he love men so much that he died for their torturers… even for the one who plunged the god-killing lance into the Heart of Him who loved him to excess?

III We are on the Martyrs' Hill…  Now, who were these martyrs? Their spilled blood cries to us: Penitence, devotion, faith, obedience and love!”

Detail of the procession singing the Magnificat, November 6, 1887

After the greeting, the pilgrims organized themselves into a procession under the leadership of the Abbé Legoux, vicar general. They wandered throughout  the crypt singing the Magnificat  and proceeded into the upper apse [in the open air] where Monseigneur the Bishop blessed, in the name of the people of his diocese, the decorative molding of an arch placed before the altar of the Holy Virgin.  The diocese of Coutances proves itself so generous to the Sacred Heart that there would soon be in all parts of the monument some important evidence of its devotion.

Procession of pilgrims singing the Magnificat, November 6, 1887

“I am preparing another one for you,”  Mgr Germain told us:  “upon my return from Rome, I will address my dear diocesans with a new appeal: it will be our honor to donate the statue of St Michael which will crown the pinnacle of the choir.  My people are not rich, but I know them: they love the Sacred Heart. and they love St Michael.”

This was a promise, and an episcopal promise, but in his inexhaustible and industrious charity, and with the lively satisfaction of his pious bishop, Abbé Legoux thought that, without prejudice to the promised gift for the future, ……

Can We Find the Missing Page of this 1887 Article?

Here the account breaks off, for, miraculous as it is that this record has been preserved, the next page is missing.  The Bulletin Mensuel, which was published from Paris, showed, in 1887, subscription prices for France, Algeria, and foreign countries.  If any of you can find a copy of the November 10, 1887 edition that contains the complete account (perhaps in a library or in the archives of a religious order that subscribed), please do let me know, for I hope to publish the complete article in English and to restore it to the Basilica in French. 

Image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the chapel of St. Pierre in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Montmartre

The Chapel of St. Peter at Montmartre


We know that the Martin family received Communion at this Mass at Montmartre.  I believe that they participated in the Mass from the Chapel of St. Peter.  Although this art was not there in 1887, that chapel today contains an image of the Sacred Heart based on the one Charles de Foucauld had in his chapel at Beni-Abbes.







The Consecration to the Sacred Heart


Before leaving the Basilica for lunch, all the pilgrims were consecrated to the Sacred Heart and given small badges of the Sacred Heart.  Below is a sketch of Therese at the moment of consecration. 


 Therese kneeling in the Basilica at Montmartre at the moment of her consecration to the Sacred Heart 

Therese wrote that she had asked for a special grace, "the grace," for her cousin, Jeanne Guerin.  We do not know what this grace was.  For more about the devotion to the Sacred Heart at that time and for Therese's unique experience of the Heart of Jesus, which departed radically from the accepted interpretation of the "Sacred Heart devotion," please read my article "The Abysses of Love and Mercy of the Heart of Jesus: St. Therese of Lisieux and the Sacred Heart."

A plaque on the wall near the altar of St. Peter commemorates the visit of St. Therese, Celine, and St. Louis.

Therese Offered Her Gold Bracelet for a Monstrance for the Basilica 

The plaque mentions that when Therese, the jeweler's daughter, returned to Lisieux, she sent her gold bracelet to the chaplains of Montmartre to be melted down in order to form part of the great monstrance for the basilica, a sacramental sign of her desire to keep vigil near the Eucharist day and night.  That monstrance is pictured below:

The gold monstrance for which St. Therese sent her gold bracelet

Perpetual Adoration of the Eucharist at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Montmartre 

Perpetual adoration of the Eucharist in the basilica has continued day and night since 1885, two years before Therese's visit.   

Perpetual adoration of the Eucharist in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Montmartre. Photo credit: TripAdvisor.

If you go: following in the footsteps of St. Therese at Montmartre


Although Therese did not have the chance to adore the Eucharist in the Basilica at night, pilgrims now have that opportunity.  If you are staying elsewhere in Paris, you can do so just by getting a ticket at a certain time in the evening that will admit you to the basilica after it closes for the night.  If you are seeking a more complete retreat experience, you may stay overnight at the guest house operated by the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration of Montmartre, whose vocation is to animate the spiritual experience of the pilgrims to the Basilica.  You will have the opportunity to sign up for your chosen time of adoration.  This is a powerful way to follow in the footsteps of St. Therese in Paris and also to honor her father, St. Louis Martin, and her uncle, Isidore Guerin, who were leaders in the movement of nocturnal adoration at Alencon and at Lisieux.  Night and daytime pilgrimages are offered to individuals and to groups.  

A Carmelite monastery on Montmartre


The friends of St. Therese will be happy to know that there is also a Carmelite monastery on Montmartre.  It was founded in 1927.  

I was delighted to see that the Basilica has now described the November 6, 1887 ceremony on its Web site in French.  

The relics of St. Therese venerated at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Montmartre


Several times the relics of St. Therese have visited the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Montmartre in November to commemorate her visit in 1887.  See photos and videos of the visit in 2015.  Could the devout teenage girl have guessed in 1887 that "she would return, more than a century later, in the form of relics offered for the veneration of the faithful?'

I renew my fervent gratitude to the Basilica for permitting me to share with you these precious texts and images.  Please pray for the flowering of the great work of prayer and adoration that takes place there.  And please add a prayer for my own ministry for the Martin family, too.  If you can visit Montmartre, please share your experience there with me by clicking "e-mail me" at the left side of the Web site. Thank you.  

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