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St. Therese's Images of Mary - "Our Lady of Victories" - May 7, 2017

The statue of Our Lady of Victories flanked by the portraits of Saints Louis and Zelie Martin. St. Jacques Church, Lisieux, 2008Therese would have known this statue of "Our Lady of Victories" from her early childhood. Devotion to Mary under the title "Our Lady of Victories" was widespread in France at that time. Although the feast has since been renamed "Our Lady of the Rosary," churches dedicated to "Our Lady of Victories" still exist.

Church of Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, Paris 24 November 2012

The Church of Notre-Dame des Victoires (Our Lady of Victories) in Paris. By Guilhem Vellut from Amsterdam, Netherlands (Church of Notre-Dame-des-Victoires @ Paris) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Church of Our Lady of Victories in Paris

In Therese's time the Church of Notre-Dame des Victoires  in Paris was already well known as a Marian shrine.

The miracle of 1846

In 1846 Father Charles Desgenettes was pastor.  Because the church was located in a business area, he had very few parishioners, and he believed that he had failed in his ministry there.  He was on the point of resigning his charge when, on December 3, 1846, during and after Mass, he heard an interior voice say "Consecrate your parish to the holy and immaculate Heart of Mary."  With the Archbishop's permission, he consecrated the church to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the evening of Sunday, December 11, 1846.  That morning, fewer than 40 people had been at Mass, but the evening service was attended by more than 500 people. Since then thousands of pilgrims have flocked to the church to give thanks for graces they received through the intercession of Mary. 

The church is considered to be dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Refuge of Sinners, and the Archconfraternity of the Immaculate Heart Father Desgenettes founded prays especially for the conversion of sinners.  Grateful pilgrims have left more than 37,000 votive offerings in thanksgiving.  In 1927 the church was elevated to the rank of a minor basilica.  Read the history of Notre-Dame des Victoires (Our Lady of Victories).

The statue of Our Lady of Victories, in the church of that name in Paris, before which St. Therese was praying when she received a special grace in November 1887. Photo courtesy of Corrinne May (www.corrinnemay.com)

Our Lady of Victories and the Martin family

Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin both loved Our Lady of Victories.  When Zelie's brother lived near the church while he studied in Paris, she urged him to go in once a day and say a Hail Mary, promising that the Blessed Virgin would protect him in a particular way.  When Louis was in Paris on business, he wrote to Zelie:  "I just lit a candle in Our Lady of Victories, which is a little heaven on earth."  In 1883, when Therese was seriously ill, Louis gave some money to her older sister, Marie, and asked Marie to write to Notre-Dame des Victoires and ask to have a novena of Masses offered for Therese's cure.  Her miraculous cure in response to the prayers she and her sisters offered before their own statue of Mary took place during the novena.  In November 1887, when Louis was escorting Celine and Therese on the pilgrimage to Rome, he took them to Paris a few days early and chose a hotel near Notre-Dame des Victoires.  A little later in this series we will return to the grace St. Therese received whle praying to Mary there.

Walk in the steps of the Martin family in Paris

Our Lady of Victories is a popular pilgrimage site today.  Together with the priests, the Benedictines of Montmartre are responsible for the Church.  Daily they pray the divine office, participate in the Masses, lead the rosary, and share, with the pilgrims, in the Eucharistic adoration.  For information, visit the English Web site of the Basilica of Our Lady of Victories in Paris.

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