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 Saint Therese of the Child Jesus

of the Holy Face

Entries in Louis Martin (6)

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.

"Blessed Louis Martin, the 'incomparable father' of St. Therese of Lisieux: how can he help Christian fathers today?" - a conference and day of prayer at the Carmelite Monastery in Philadelphia on Sunday, March 2, 2014

An Encounter with St. Thérèse of Lisieux
and her parents,
Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin 

Pray in the presence of their relics on Sunday, March 2, 2014
from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

   Louis Martin about 1863, aged about 40

“Blessed Louis Martin,
the ‘incomparable father’ of St. Thérèse of Lisieux:
how can he help Christian fathers today?”

- a conference by Maureen O’Riordan at 1:00 p.m.

Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament at 3:30 p.m.
with a special blessing for fathers, grandfathers, and godfathers

Carmelite Monastery                                Bookstore Open
1400 66th Avenue                                     10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
(66th Avenue and Broad Street)               Spiritual books, 
Philadelphia, Pa.                                     children's books, DVDs,
Free parking in monastery lot                  and religious articles.
on 66th Avenue                                        Cash and checks only

Chapel is handicapped-accessible.


Download the flyer

as a PDF

as a JPEG

Learn more about Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin at the Web site "Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin."

Louis Martin is found at Le Havre, June 27, 1888 (125 years ago with St. Therese)

From June 23-27, 1888 (125 years ago), a great anxiety came to the family of Blessed Louis Martin.    Louis, whose health had begun to decline, suddenly disappeared from his family home, Les Buissonnets, on Saturday morning, June 23.  His daughters Leonie and Celine, with the maid, searched everywhere for him.  In town, at the pharmacy belonging to his brother-in-law, Isidore Guerin, he had not been seen.  An anxious night followed; Louis was still missing.  On Sunday, June 24, a letter arrived from him (probably addressed to the Guerins, but now lost), sent from the Post Office at Le Havre, asking for some money.  His three daughters in Carmel were finally told of his disappearance, and began to pray fervently.  On Monday the "intrepid Celine" set off for Le Havre, together with her uncle, Isidore Guerin, and his nephew, Ernest Maudelonde.  They planned to search for Louis, but they had no address for him.

 Except for the maid, Leonie was alone at home when, at five o'clock in the morning on Tuesday, June 26, the small house of a neighbor, very close to Les Buissonnets, burned down.  Le Normand, June 26, 1888: 

This morning (Tuesday), shortly before five o'clock, a fire broke out in Lisieux, chemin des Bissonnets [sic], in a little house rented by a M. Prevost, who had left the previous night for Saint-Martin-de-Mailloc after having shut his door; the house, belonging to Madame d'Angot, rue du Bec, was destroyed, as well as the greater part of the furniture. . . . Under the direction of Captain Lepage, two pumps were put in action and extinguished the fire; the first from the hydrant at the City Hall, brought into action by Corporal Lemineux, was able to preserve the house occupied by M. Martin and his family; a piece of wood in the roof was beginning to burn." 

In July M. Martin bought the burnt property in order ot enlarge Les Buissonnets.  Its site today is occupied by the stairs and the embankment.

Read the letter Mme. Guerin, Louis's sister-in-law, sent later that day to his three Carmelite daughters.  At that time Louis had not yet been found. If you read French, you can also read Mme. Guerin's letter to her husband at Le Havre that same day (not yet translated into Englsh).

Finally, on Wednesday, June 27, Celine, Isidore, and Ernest found Louis at the Post Office at Le Havre. Although he was lucid, he had become fixated on idea of going away to live in solitude.  They brought him home safe and sound, although he had shaved off his beard. 

[Sources: Letters of Saint Therese of Lisieux, Volume I (1877-1890), tr. John Clarke, O.C.D.  Washington, D.C.: ICS Publications, 1982, p. 439, LD, June 26, 1888 from Celine Guerin to her nieces, footnote 3) and Sainte Therese de Lisieux (1873-1897) by Guy Gaucher, O.C.D.  Paris: Editions du Cerf, 2010, pp. 289-290].


A pilgrimage of volunteers to Caen in the footsteps of Leonie Martin and Blessed Louis Martin, June 24, 2013

Mgr Habert with volunteers of the Shrine of Alençon outside the chapel of the Visitation at Caen

An historic pilgrimage in the footsteps of Léonie Martin and of her father, Blessed Louis Martin, took place in France today.  The volunteers of the newly organized shrine at Alencon, who welcome pilgrims who want to walk in the footsteps of the Martin family in and near Alencon, in the diocese of Séez, where Louis and Zélie Martin met, married, and spent their married life, and where Thérèse was born, made a pilgrimage as a group to Caen to visit the Monastery of the Visitation, where Léonie Martin lived from 1899 until her death in 1941, and the Bon Sauveur Hospital, where Blessed Louis Martin was confined from February 12, 1889 through May 10, 1892.

Mgr Habert, bishop of SeezThey were accompanied by Mgr Jacques Habert, bishop of the diocese of Seéz.  Father Thierry Hénault-Morel in the Visitation chapelFather Thierry Hénault-Morel, the rector of the basilica of Notre-Dame at Alençon, was their guide.

The Shrine at Alençon has already posted 94 photos of the pilgrimage.  [Note of 2/12/17: I'm so sorry; the Shrine appears to have removed these photos from their site].  Although the captions are still in French, it is a wonderful chance to see photos of the Visitation chapel and  the crypt,  Léonie's souvenirs and her tomb, and almost the first contemporary photos of the interior of the chapel at the Bon Sauveur where Louis Martin worshipped. 

Posted on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 08:43PM by Registered CommenterMaureen O'Riordan in , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

125 years ago today St. Therese of Lisieux wrote her first letter to her father from Carmel . . .

Thanks to the Web site of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux and the generosity of the Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, please read St. Therese's first letter to her father from Carmel  Notice that in 1888 April 29 fell on Sunday.  Saturday, April 28 had been the nineteenth birthday of Therese's sister Celine, and it seems there was a celebration in the speakroom at Carmel.  Perhaps Therese's father was not present, so the postulant was allowed to send him this letter of thanks.  Louis Martin was extraordinarily generous to the Carmel: he gave generous dowries for each of his Carmelite daughters, made many gifts of money to the monastery, and often brought fish, fruit, vegetables, and other treats to the monastery.  The "bright little pearl" is Pauline, who was nicknamed "the pearl" by her father; the "brilliant diamond" is his oldest daughter Marie, who, in the month of May, will make her vows on the same day the monastery celebrates the 50th anniversary of its foundation. 

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