Saint Therese of the Child Jesus
of the Holy Face
Virtual Choir of Discalced Carmelite Nuns Singing for the 500th Anniversary of the Birth of St. Teresa of Avila
This "virtual choir" of Discalced Carmelite nuns from around the world singing in honor of the 500th anniversary of the birth of St. Teresa of Avila evokes most beautifully the desire of St. Therese "to preach the gospel on all five continents simultaneously." They are chanting a poem often called "St. Teresa's bookmark," also known as "The Efficacy of Patience." The text in Spanish:
"Eficacia de la Paciencia"
Nada te turbe,
nada te espante,
todo se pasa,
Dios no se muda;
todo lo alcanza;
quien a Dios tiene
nada le falta:
Sólo Dios basta.
"Efficacy of Patience."
Let nothing trouble you,
Let nothing scare you,
All is fleeting,
God alone is unchanging.
Who possesses God
God alone suffices.
[from The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, Volume Three: translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. and Otiliio Rodriguez, O.C.D. Washington, D.C.: Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc., 1985].
"St. Therese of Lisieux at School, Part 2" - the second of four articles written in 1934 by a Benedictine nun who taught Therese
Written for The Far East by a Member of the Community
With thanks to the Missionary Society of St. Columban, I present this second of a series of four articles about the school life and First Communion of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, written by one of the Benedictine nuns who taught Thérèse. These articles were commmissioned by "The Fast East" in 1934 to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Thérèse's First Communion (May 8, 1884). We present them in honor of the 130th anniversary of Thérèse's First Communion; the anniversary fell on May 8, 2014.
This second article discusses Therese's academic strengths and weaknesses; the older student who resented her; the morning schedule of the Abbey school; recreation; the daily visit to the Eucharist; Therese's catechism class; and the anticipation of her First Communion. This article leaves Therese in the autumn of 1883, when she was ten years old.
It would be a great mistake to think that these tears of Thérèse came from self-love or ambition. She fancied that God would be less pleased with her and that she would grieve her good father, who manifested a certain disappointment when her marks went as low as 3 (out of 6) and, on the other hand, seemed so happy when his daughters brought him reports showing high marks and first places. The day-boarders could bring work with them to do at home in the evenings. M. Martin and the older girls took the greatest interest in the studies and progress of the children. The truth is, the, that the tears shed by Thérèse came from her delicacy of conscience and her extreme goodness of heart.
In outlining briefly the day of a pupil at the Abbey of Notre Dame du Pré, we shall follow little Thérèse step by step.
Ten minutes before the signal for going in, the girls who wished were permitted to go to the chapel for a little visit to the Blessed Sacrament. At the age of nine to twelve years, one requires a certain amount of courage and real piety to stop playing immediately, in the middle of a game of croquet or the like.
Little Thérèse never failed to throw down whatever she held in her hand as soon as the mistress would approach the different groups and say: “It is time to go to chapel.” And her example would bring along others who were dallying hesitantly.
Recreation, in bad weather, was spent on the terrace, which was spacious and had a southern exposure.
The chaplain bore witness, not without pride, that at the customary examination he had deliberately tried to puzzle Thérèse but that he had not succeeded. So he called her his “little Doctor of Theology” and one can foresee perhaps that these words may soon be shown to have been prophetic. [Note of 2014: This sentence reflects that in the 1930s talk of Therese as a Doctor of the Church had begun].
When the school reopened in October, Thérèse continued to be the simple, frank schoolgirl of old, but she was more and more edifying. For was not this to be for her the great year. A few months more and the longed-for day would dawn!
This article originally appeared in the April 1934 issue of The Far East (U.S.A. edition).
- See an image of "The Little Flower at School, Part 2" exactly as it appeared in The Far East in April 1934.
- It is reprinted by “Saint Therese of Lisieux: A Gateway” with permission from the Missionary Society of St. Columban at www.columban.org You may read it online at www.thereseoflisieux.org/abbey2. Permission is granted to duplicate this article in whole; please include this notice of acknowledgement.
- To learn more about the Columban Missions, or to send a thank-offering, please visit
Special thanks to Linda Smith, who typed this article for publication; to her husband, Scott Smith, who formatted the print-friendly version you may download; and to Patricia Taussig, who prepared the illustrations and the images of the original April 1934 article for publication. Please pray in thanksgiving for our generous and expert volunteers.
The next article, part 3 of four, gives a step-by-step description of every detail of St. Therese's First Communion Day, telling much about the ceremony and the day that Therese did not record in Story of a Soul. Please God, I will be able to upload it for the special gift for St. Therese's feast on Wednesday, October 1, 2014. Please check back.
- Read about how I discovered "The Little Flower at School" articles in 2014. I found these articles just by searching the Internet and following the clue there, and I am confident that many other such treasures await discovery. If you want to help find them, please e-mail me. Thank you.
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, 1923, 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.