The writing-desk on which St. Therese of Lisieux wrote
"Story of a Soul" is touring the United States in the autumn of 2013


On August 28, 2013, the wooden writing-case (the "écritoire") St. Thérèse of Lisieux used during her last years in Carmel began a tour of the United States, sponsored by the Pontifical Mission Societies in collaboration with the Carmel of Lisieux, which has generously lent the writing-case for its first exhibition outside the monastery.

Father Andrew Small, OMI, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States, traveled to Lisieux to pick up the writing-case, which had never left the monastery.  The United States is blessed to be the first country to welcome this important possession of St. Thérèse.  Except for the manuscripts themselves, no souvenir of St. Thérèse is closer to her extraordinary memoirs, published in book form as Story of a Soul in 1898, than the écritoire. All three manuscripts of this great spiritual classic, which has transformed so many lives, were written on this little wooden lap desk.  See a short story about the writing-case from the Web site of the archives of the Carmel of Lisieux.


The tour opened on Wednesday, August 28, the anniversary of the death of St. Thérèse’s mother, Blessed Zélie Martin.  The first stop was Las Vegas, where several Catholic Hispanic organizations had been meeting.  The writing-case is scheduled to be venerated in about twenty dioceses between now and late October, when the tour is scheduled to end on the East Coast.

The first event of the tour was a prayer service at St. Joseph, Husband of Mary parish in Las Vegas.  During the prayer service, which began at 5:30 p.m., each person present was invited to write her or his name on a piece of paper and place it on the writing-case.  “This simple act is a way for pilgrims to unite their hearts with the heart of St. Thérèse and to place all their hopes and sorrows in heaven with her,” said Father Andrew.  “Returning the writing case to Lisieux, I will also carry with me the many names of those who have entrusted their cares and hopes to the intercession of St. Thérèse.”

See three national news stories:

"'Little Flower' artifacts draw faithful closer to St. Therese," by Adelaide Mena for the Catholic News Agency, October 5, 2013

"At National Shrine, hundreds venerate writing-desk of St. Therese of Lisieux," Catholic News Service, October 3, 2013

"Writing-desk of St. Therese goes on tour," by Carol Zimmerman for the Catholic News Service Blog, September 20, 2013

For more about the role of the écritoire in St. Thérèse’s life, please see "The writing-desk in St.  Therese's lifetime" and "FAQs about Therese's writing-desk and writing."  You will learn when and where she used it; why she used this writing-case only after 1894; what happened to her first writing-case; and which of her writings she composed using this little writing-desk.  Later I will write about the links between the Pontifical Mission Societies and St. Therese, both during her lifetime and after her death. For more about the mission tour, please watch, where you can learn more about the Pontifical Mission Societies.

by Maureen O’Riordan for “Saint Therese of Lisieux: A Gateway

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