St. Therese's Images of Mary - Therese prays at Our Lady of Victories in Paris, November 1887 - May 15, 2017
Monday, May 15, 2017 at 10:24PM
Maureen O'Riordan

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.  

Article originally appeared on Saint Therese of Lisieux (
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