The second period of St. Therese's life: from 1877 till the grace of Christmas 1886 - at Les Buissonnets


Les Buissonnets, "the little bushes," the home of Therese Martin's family at LisieuxHomeschooling, 1877-1881

Louis Martin and his five daughters moved into a villa in Lisieux in 1877; they named it "Les Buissonnets" ("the little bushes"). They enjoyed the company of Zelie's brother, Isidore Guerin, who was a pharmacist in Lisieux, and his wife, Celine.  Therese's sisters taught her at home for a few years.  About the end of 1879 or the beginning of 1880 little Therese made her first confession at St. Pierre's Cathedral.


A day student at the Benedictine Abbey of Notre Dame du Pre 

   In October 1881 she became a day student at the Benedictine Abbey of Notre Dame  Pre at Lisieux. Through an Australian newspaper I discovered the existence of a series of articles about St. Therese's schooldays written by one of the Benedictine nuns who taught her for the magazine The Far East. The Columban Missionaries, who publish The Far East even today, unearthed these treasures from their archives and graciously encouraged me to display them.  The Little Flower at School, Part I gives the history of the Benedictine Abbey and describes Therese as she was when she arrived at the school in October 1881, aged eight and a half. 

In April 1882 her sister Marie met the Jesuit Father Almire Pichon, who was to influence the life of the Martin family for some time.   

The Carmelite Monastery of Lisieux, founded in 1838 



 A year later, on October 2, 1882,  Therese's sister Pauline became a postulant at the Carmel of Lisieux. 


A replica of the statue of the "Virgin of the Smile" before which Therese and her sisters were praying at the time of her cure 

 Cured through the prayers of the Blessed Virgin 

The following spring Therese became very ill. On May 13, 1883, Therese was cured by the smile of the Blessed Virgin, as she recounts in her memoir, "Story of a Soul." Part 2 of "The Little Flower at School" sketches Therese's school life from her entry in 1881 until the fall of 1883, when she was ten and a half years old.

Therese's First Communion

At eleven, on May 8, 1884, Therese made her First Communion at the Benedictine Abbey.  Read Part 3 of "The Little Flower at School:" "The Little Flower's First Communion, by one of her teachers," an article written in 1934 for the 50th anniversary of Therese's First Communion.  It describes the day in minutest detail and gives information never published before.  See reflections on the anniversary of Therese's First Communion.

Therese's confirmation

She was confirmed by Bishop Hugonin at the Benedictine Abbey on June 14, 1884; her sponsor was her sister Leonie.  See a sketch of Therese being confirmed and read her account of her confirmation at the Web site of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux.

About February 1886 Therese left the Abbey school and took private lessons with Mme. Papinau.  On October 15, 1886, Therese's oldest sister, Marie, entered the Lisieux Carmel.  On December 25, 1886, on her return home from midnight Mass at St. Pierre's Cathedral, Therese experienced what she called her "complete conversion," being freed in a moment from the excessive sensitivity of her childhood.

Photos Les Buissonnets and statue copyright Al Basil; photo of Lisieux Carmel copyright Paul Ryan, all rights reserved. Used with permission.