Saint Therese of the Child Jesus
of the Holy Face
Pray in the choir of the Carmel of Lisieux with the Carmelite nuns and with St. Therese, September 20, 2014
The Carmelites of Lisieux invite you to make a "virtual visit" to the choir where St. Therese and the Carmelites of her day prayed the Divine Office, made their mental prayer, and attended Mass every day. Join the Lisieux Carmelites in prayer at this 3:20 film on Vimeo, or make the English "pilgrimage visit" they offer on the Web site of the "Carmel de Lisieux." An audio in English gives the words of St. Therese about prayer.
As soon as the 15-year-old St. Therese entered the enclosure on April 9, 1888, as she writes, "I was led, as are all postulants, to the choir, and what struck me were the eyes of our holy Mother Genevieve, which were fixed on me." It was here that she received the Habit on January 10, 1889 and, after her profession, received the black veil on September 24, 1890.
The professed nuns participated in the Divine Office from their "stalls" against the wall. At the time of Therese, at least some of them made the morning and evening hour of mental prayer" while sitting "on their heels" on the floor of the choir. Sister Marie of the Trinity remembers that Therese, who never got enough sleep, often fell asleep during the hour of mental prayer or the thanksgiving after Holy Communion; her head fell over and she slept, her forehead touching the floor.
It was also here that, at evening prayer, Therese was placed in front of Sister Marie of Jesus, who spent the whole hour unconsciously tapping her teeth with a fingernail. Read Therese's humorous account of how "I paid close attention so as to hear it well, and my prayer, which was not the Prayer of Quiet, was spent in offering this concert to Jesus."
In the early summer of 1897, Therese was so sick that she had to give up attending the choir. But on August 30, 1897, she was placed on a movable bed and wheeled down the cloister from the infirmary to the entrance to the choir, where "she prayed for some time with her eyes fixed on the Blessed Sacrament. We photographed her before bringing her in." See the August 30, 1897 photograph of St. Therese.
From this choir Therese's Carmelite sisters participated in her funeral Mass on October 4, 1897, and it was here, on March 26, 1893, that they welcomed their sister's body back after the solemn translation of her relics from her grave in the municipal cemetery at Lisieux to the chapel of the Carmel.
We congratulate the "Association les amis de Sainte Therese de Lisieux et de son Carmel" and the Carmelites of Lisieux for producing this beautiful film and for making it available in English.
St. Therese's sister Celine entered the Carmel of Lisieux 120 years ago today, on September 14, 1894
120 years ago today, on September 14, 1894, Therese's sister Celine entered the Carmel of Lisieux at the age of 25. She had taken care of her father until his death six weeks before, on July 29, 1894.
Celine's story is told in the book Celine: Sister and Witness of St. Therese of the Child Jesus by a Franciscan priest, Stephane-Joseph Piat, who knew her well in her later years. (She died on February 25, 1959, at the age of 89). She herself tells the story of the three years she spent with Therese in Lisieux Carmel in her memoir My Sister Saint Therese, first published in French in the 1950s.
Celine had lived much longer "in the world" than her sisters. From the age of seventeen she had been in charge at Les Buisonnets. She had accompanied her father during his confinement in a mental hospital; nursed him, together with Leonie, and managed his household after his release; participated in the social life of the family of her uncle Guerin; refused two proposals of marriage; considered joining the Jesuit Father Almire Pichon in an apostolate in Canada; been an active member of her parish; organized other young women in charitable and apostolic works in Lisieux; and vigorously pursued studies in art, photography, and other fields. Because she had looked after her father and managed his household, and because of her strong personality, incredible energy, and many talents, Celine's early adjustment to the Carmelite way of life, which at that time was so rigid (for a guide to all its minute customs, see the "Paper of exactions" at the Web site of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux) for a guide to all their minute customs) was a challenge. Like so many of us do, she often compared herself with Therese and became discouraged despite her courageous efforts.
Read her eyewitness testimony about Therese at the 1910 diocesan process in the book St. Therese of Lisieux by those who knew her at
At the Web site of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux, read the circular of Sister Genevieve of the Holy Face, an account of her life which was prepared at Lisieux and sent to other Carmels at Celine's death.
Read an online biography of Celine on the Web site "Martin Sisters."
September 14, 1894 was an historic date in Carmel not only because of the entrance of the young woman who would give us such valuable testimony about her sister-saint but also for several other reasons:
To make room for Celine, the cells were moved around, and it was to prepare for September 14 that Therese moved into her last cell, which she occupied from then until she left it for the infirmary on July 8, 1897
When Celine entered, Therese passed on to Celine the ecritoire (small wooden writing-desk held on one's lap) that she herself had been using. Therese replaced it with another, no longer fit for use, which she had found in the attic. So it's on this last, somewhat battered writing-desk, which was displayed in the United States in the summer of 2013, that Therese wrote the three manuscripts of "Story of a Soul"
and all her letters to her spiritual brothers, the young priest Adolphe Roulland and the young seminarian Maurice Belliere.
Celine brought with her a small notebook in which she had copied out extracts from her uncle's Bible. She passed this notebook on to Therese. Since the nuns did not have Bibles, some of the passages were new to Therese. It was in this notebook that Therese found the Scripture passages that were the foundation of her "way of confidence and love": "If anyone is little, let that one come to me." "For to the one that is little, mercy will be shown." "You shall be carried on the knees and fondled at the lap."
Celine also brought that day another object that would be important to the spread of Therese's message: the photographic apparatus with which most of the photographs of Therese as a Carmelite were taken.
May Celine (Sister Genevieve of the Holy Face) obtain for us the grace to enter into following her sister's way of confidence and love with the same energy and courage with which she entered Carmel.
The Carmelites of Lisieux welcome you to a "virtual visit" in English to their monastery. In this first video (3:20), see the entrance to the monastery; the enclosure door through which Therese passed on April 9, 1888; and the open cloisters. Hear Therese's words in English, recreating that occasion. English subtitles explain what you are seeing.
Pray in the presence of their relics on Sunday, October 5, 2014
from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Therese Martin at the age of eight in 1881
“A Map of the Way of Confidence and Love
of St. Therese of Lisieux"
- a conference by Maureen O’Riordan at 1:00 p.m.:
Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at 3:30 p.m.
Carmelite Monastery Bookstore Open
1400 66th Avenue 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
(66th Avenue and Broad Street) Spiritual books,
Philadelphia, Pa. children's books, DVDs,
Free parking in monastery lot and religious articles.
on 66th Avenue Cash and checks only
Chapel is handicapped-accessible.
Download the flyer
Visit the Web site "Discalced Carmelites of Philadelphia."
Newsletter about the Philadelphia Carmel as the birthplace of devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux - September 5, 2014
See today's newsletter promoting the series of four articles about the Philadelphia Carmel as the birthplace of devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux at http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs197/1106579332794/archive/1118427543568.html