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 Saint Therese of the Child Jesus

of the Holy Face

Entries by Maureen O'Riordan (448)

"Saint Therese, Doctor of the Church," an interview with Monseigneur Guy Gaucher, O.C.D.



Bishop Gaucher after the Mass of Beatification for Louis and Zelie Martin in Lisieux, October 19, 2008

After St. Therese was named a Doctor of the Universal Church in 1997, her Carmelite brother, Bishop Guy Gaucher, who worked for a long time on the team that edited Therese's authentic works and who was instrumental in the process by which she was declared a Doctor, gave an interview on the significance of her doctorate.  He explains what is required to be a Doctor of the Cnurch, tells how Therese became a doctor, and speaks of her importance as a woman doctor and a theologian. With thanks to the Shrine at Lisieux, please read "Saint Therese, Doctor of the Church: An Interview with Monseigneur Guy Gaucher."

"Over 60,000 at St. Therese's Canonisation" - a 1925 newspaper report for the anniversary - May 17, 2017

Over 60,000 at St. Therese’s Canonisation

His Holiness Proclaims New Glory of Carmel

All Nations Represented at the Happy and Impressive Event

 [from the Freeman's Journal (Sydney, New South Wales, July 2, 1925]

A Banner of St. Therese Displayed in St. Peter's for Her Canonization

ROME, May 23.

The solemn Canonization of the little Carmelite, Sister Therese of the Child Jesus, who died in the cloister at Lisieux, France, in 1897, at the age of 24, an event long and eagerly awaited by millions of her devoted clients in all parts of the world, took place on Sunday last in the presence of a vast multitude numbering at least 60,000 persons.

In honor of the new glory of Carmel, the gigantic dome of St. Peter's Basilica shone brilliant in the flaming light of 5000 tallow candle torches, illumining the hills and plains for miles around and flashing the message of Therese's triumph.  Beneath the glittering dome, gardens and palaces, streets and edifices were arrayed in unbelievable grandeur and beauty. From every, corner of Italy and particularly of Rome, throngs of people poured into the marvellous old City, all thrilling with expectancy and anxious to the glorification of her who is in the garden of the Saints, the Little Flower.

Within St. Peter's

This, the first Canonization of the Holy Year of 1925, was marked with most sublime and significant solemnities. Within St. Peter's, rare and precious brocades and velvets, crimson in colour, depended from walls and ceilings. Upon them the radiance of 25,000 electric bulbs threw brilliance almost celestial. Roses, symbolic of Therese, were gar- landed about the altar, the pillars and ceilings.

Upon the ancient hallowed walls of the vast edifice hung several life-size paintings of the Little Flower at various periods of her life; Therese at the feet of the Pontiff, Leo XIII. beseeching with childlike candor to be permitted to enter Carmel at the age of fifteen; Therese in the garden of the convent at Lisieux, standing beside the great Cross on her Profession Day; Therese robed for burial, her pure brow crowned with roses.

From early afternoon great crowds began to assemble about St. Peter's, the vast Square and side streets, and all entrances were choked with those who had come far in the hope of witnessing the Canonization ceremonies.

In order that the voice of the Holy Father might be distinctly audible to all within the Basilica, large amplifiers had been installed on the four corners of the Papal Altar (directly beneath the dome of Michael Angelo). Four thousand specially, constructed seats along the tribunes offered provision for some small fragment of the vast throng desiring admittance. About the massive aisles the Swiss Guards hovered on vigilant guard in order to preserve the decorum fitting the sacred spot and the occasion.

The Gorgeous Procession

At the hour set for the ceremonies, the long procession of representatives of religious Orders, ecclesiastics and prelates of high rank, many robed in gorgeous vestments, swept toward the great Altar.  The Pontiff, Pope Pius XI, borne upon the Sedia Gestatoria, raised his hand, in blessing as he was borne along. The flabelli or large fans waving gently upon the Holy Father lent an atmosphere of .the Far East to the scene.

Absolute silence prevailed throughout the vast edifice as the procession moved on. It is estimated that fully 30,000 French Catholics, 12,000 Americans and 10,000 English speaking Catholics were present in the Basilica. Smaller groups of persons representing almost all other nationalities also participated. In the royal box which formerly sheltered Kings and Queens and Princes famed in history of the centuries, were representatives of the royal houses of several European countries. In other specially re served sections were illustrious states men and members of the nobility. Immediately following Pope Pius in the procession came over 200 Archbishops and Bishops from all over the world, clad in the sacred, vestments of their high office.

When, in 1923, the saintly young Carmelite, Sister Therese of the Child Jesus, the favored child of Heaven, was raised to the honors of the altar by Pope Pius XI and formally enrolled among the Blessed, it was believed that within a short space her Canonization would follow. And the reason was that, the treasures of her childlike love had been poured out abundantly upon a world war- swept, storm-tossed and weary of its wretchedness. Her appeal was universal, especially at a time when men craved for light and peace, for the favorite saying of this little Child of Carmel had been: 'Jesus! I ask of Thee only peace!'

In his memorable allocution of April 30, 1923, Pope Pius stressed the characteristics of a life that was lived in secret, known only to God and to the few chosen souls who surrounded it. The Holy Father declared on that occasion that it was this spiritual Childhood of which Therese was the exemplar, pleasing alike to God and men, that had won for the Little Flower such a rare place in the category of the Saints.

Patron of Soldiers

During the great World War Therese of the Child Jesus became the favorite advocate of those who were fighting the great fight in the sacred cause of democracy. Many favors were vouchsafed by her to her devout clients. Had the Little Flower of. Jesus lived, she would have been just fifty-two years of age to-day.  But in the inscrutable designs of Providence, she was privileged to be of those who, having lived for a short space, fulfil a long time.

Unprecedented in the history of canonizations is the rapidity with which the Cause of the Little Flower has gone forward. But providential it surely is, since it is but the echo on the lips of the world, of that age-old cry which Augustine voiced centuries ago: — that the human heart is ever restless until it rests in God. And whosever can show the quickest way to peace is the Angel of Peace to souls that are weary of exile and longing for deliverance from a multitude of woes. To win God by caresses, 'to cast before Jesus the flowers of little sacrifices, to show men a new little way, very easy and very short, by which to go to Heaven,' — this is the mission of Saint Therese of the Infant Jesus whom all the world loves by the name of the Little Flower.

The Canonization of this dear little Saint of our own day is but the outward expression and recognition, of. the Church for the mission so faithfully performed, for the knowledge vouchsafed to men through her holy life and words, the knowledge that in the simplicity of the common way great sanctification may be attained, and man's age-old quest, the Heart of God, won at the cost of no very great or striking sacrifice.   

Retrieved May 17, 2017, from

St. Therese's Images of Mary - Therese prays at Our Lady of Victories in Paris, November 1887 - May 15, 2017

The stained-glass window representing Therese praying before Our Lady of Victories. Her father, St. Louis Martin, stands behind her.

On Thursday, November 3, 1887, Louis Martin took his two youngest daughters, Celine and Therese, to Paris to spend a few days exploring its beauties before they left on a diocesan pilgrimage to Rome. They stayed at a hotel near the church of Notre-Dame des Victoires ("Our Lady of Victories"), which was very special to the Martin family.  See my article of May 7, 2017 for the history of Our Lady of Victories, an important Marian shrine, and for its importance to the Martins.

It was on Friday, November 4, or Saturday, November 5, 1887, that the three Martins visited Our Lady of  Victories and Therese received a grace that completed the cure she had received at age ten before the statue of Our Lady of the Smile in her bedroom at Lisieux. After her sudden cure, her oldest sister, Marie, had realized what happened and had asked Therese whether she might tell the Carmelites that Therese had seen the Blessed Virgin.  The nuns asked well-meaning questions about the particulars of the vision, whether Mary was holding the child Jesus, whether there was much light.  Therese could only repeat "Our Lady was very beautiful, and I saw her smile at me."  She had seen only Mary's face, suffused with kindness and love.  These questions disturbed the child, and for four and a half years, even after her conversion at Christmas 1886, she believed that she had lied and had not really seen the Virgin. On this day, now 14 years old, before setting out on the pilgrimage, Therese was freed from that fear and restored to the filial relationship with Mary that meant so much to the little girl who had lost four mother-figures (her wet-nurse, Rose Taille, in 1874; her mother, Zelie, in 1877; her second mother, Pauline, in 1882; and Marie, who stepped into Pauline's place, in 1886) in twelve years. 

 The statue of Our Lady of Victories in Paris before which St. Therese received graces in November 1887Therese recounts in Story of a Soul:  

. . . very soon we saw all the marvels of the Capital. [20] I myself found only one which filled me with delight, Our Lady of Victories!

Ah! what I felt kneeling at her feet cannot be expressed. The graces she granted me so moved me that my happiness found expression only in tears, just as on the day of my First Communion. The Blessed Virgin made me feel it was really herself who smiled on me and brought about my cure. I understood she was watching over me, that I was her child. I could no longer give her any other name but “Mama,” as this appeared ever so much more tender than Mother. How fervently I begged her to protect me always, to bring to fruition as quickly as possible my dream of hiding beneath the shadow of her virginal mantle! This was one of my first desires as a child. [5] When growing up, I understood it was at Carmel I would truly find the Blessed Virgin’s mantle, and toward this fertile Mount I directed all my desires.

Story of a Soul, Ms A, folio 57r.  Read the complete account of the visit at the Archives of the Web site of the Carmel of Lisieux.


The altar to St. Therese in the Church of Our Lady of Victories in Paris that commemorates her November 1887 visit there.

The site of this important grace for Therese is commemorated by an altar later erected to St. Therese and a stained-glass window depicting her visit.  If you are in Paris, please visit this sanctuary.  

Posted on Monday, May 15, 2017 at 10:24PM by Registered CommenterMaureen O'Riordan | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

St. Therese's Images of Mary - Chapel of Our Lady of Grace in Honfleur - May 14, 2017

Statue of Our Lady of Grace in her chapel at Honfleur. Photo credit: Ann Hess

In June 1887, possibly on Saturday, June 18, Louis Martin took his three daughters, Leonie, Celine, and Therese, to visit an international maritime exhibit in Le Havre.  They passed through the port of Honfleur and paused to pray at the Chapel of Our Lady of Grace, also called Our Lady of Consolation.  At this mariners' chapel many missionaries and others who were leaving for the New World had come to pray to Our Lady for a safe crossing.  The Martins are believed to have come here on other occasions.


The chapel of Our Lady of Grace at Honfleur. Photo credit: Ann Hess

Therese, then 14, who on May 29 had received from her father permission to become a Carmelite, asked Our Lady to permit her to enter the Carmelite Monastery at Lisieux despite her youth.  

The main altar of the chapel of Our Lady of Grace at Honfleur. The statue before which Therese prayed is seen at right. Photo credit: Ann Hess

Leonie also prayed here for her vocation.  She had made a six weeks' trial with the Poor Clares at Alencon the year before, and she would enter the Monastery of the Visitation at Caen in just a few weeks, on July 16, 1887.  At this first trial with the Visitation, she remained for six months.  

Fifty uears before Therese's visit, in 1837, two sisters, Athalie and Desiree Gosselin, had come with their priest-counselor, Fr. Nicolas Sauvage, to pray for the grace of being able to found the Carmelite monastery at Lisieux, the very monastery Therese later entered.  A plaque in the chapel commemorates the visits of these three future Carmelites of Lisieux.  

I had the privilege of visiting this chapel in 2008.  It deeply moved my soul and my heart.  I've never sensed in any other church or chapel the same atmosphere, and I recommend this little chapel to everyone who can make the pilgrimage.  Whether or not we can go there physically, let's pray to Our Lady of Grace that, like Therese and Leonie, we may receive light to fulfill our own vocations.  She will not refuse to hear us wherever we are.

"Saint Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church," an online article by Michael Novak

Thérèse really is a doctor of the Church. She really does teach, and no writer of theology you have ever read will carry you so unerringly to the living heart of the gospels, so limpidly and beautifully put. . . . Thérèse anticipated the Second Vatican Council and the great pontificate of John Paul II by nearly 100 years, through the love that poured through her as a vessel of light and grace for the scores of millions who repair to her teaching. It is the teaching of the gospels for those who come to them to learn as little children, even though they are much burdened adults, in need of mercy and the love of God.

Michael Novak (1933-2017).  Photo credit: Wikipedia

In his short article "St. Therese of Lisieux, a Doctor of the Church," (first published in Crisis magazine in 1997), author Michael Novak, who died in February 2017, shares his personal story of the power of Therese's writing and mentions many 20th century figures who were deeply moved by her.  Do you agree with his conclusion?

Note about the book Therese and Lisieux:

Michael Novak enthusiastically praises the book Therese and Lisieux, by Pierre Descouvemont and Helmut-Nils Loose (Eerdmans, 1996), with 600 photos of Therese and her milieu.  He writes:

Physically and intellectually, it is a beautiful book . . . .  it will make an unforgettable gift. It is the sort of book that will change lives. You will not come from it seeing the world the same way. It will open up new worlds of humble possibility to you, and bring you great joy, as it has done for me.

Although it is unfortunately out of print, the good news is that you can now buy a used copy online for considerably less than the original price. Just in case it is never re-issued, order one before available copies become scarce and expensive.  To support this one-woman Web site, purchase it through the link below.  Thank you.

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