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 Saint Therese of the Child Jesus

of the Holy Face

Entries in Pope Pius X (2)

On June 10, 1914, Pope St. Pius X signed the decree for the Introduction of the Cause of the future St. Therese of Lisieux 

 Pope Pius X in 1914

The Church in Rome gave its first recognition to the possibility of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus of the Holy Face becoming a canonized saint when, on June 10, 1914, Pope St. Pius X signed, with his own hand, the commission issued by the Sacred Congregation for Rites the day before, recommending to the Pope that he introduce the cause for the beatification and canonization of Sister Thérèse.  The text of this decree is below:

 DECREE OF THE INTRODUCTION OF THE CAUSE
OF SISTER THERESA OF THE CHILD JESUS

DIOCESE OF BAYEUX AND LISIEUX

DECREE OF THE SACRED CONGREGATION OF RITES
CONCERNING THE BEATIFICATION AND CANONIZATION OF

THE SERVANT OF GOD SISTER THERESA OF THE CHILD JESUS,

PROFESSED RELIGIOUS IN THE MONASTERY

OF THE ORDER OF DlSCALCED CARMELITES AT LISIEUX

The Servant of God, Theresa of the Child Jesus, a Professed Discalced Carmelite nun in the Monastery of Lisieux, the Introduction of whose cause before the Sacred Congregation of Rites is now in question, the youngest of nine children of Louis Stanislaus Martin and Marie ZelieGuerin (his wife), was born at Alenson in the Diocese of Seez on January 2nd, 1873, and two days later in Holy Baptism was given the name of Marie-Francoise Therese.

Having being carefully trained in habits of piety by the good example of all around her in her home, on the death of her mother and the removal of the family to Lisieux, as a little girl of nine years old she was entrusted by her father to the nuns of the Order of St. Benedict for her education. Her constant reading was of that excellent book ” The Imitation of Christ ” as well as of the Sacred Scriptures, both of which she made use of to further her own and her neighbour’s edification. After having been cured in a wonderful way of a serious malady by which she had been attacked, she began more ardently to yearn for the ” better gifts,” especially setting her heart on devoting herself entirely to the perpetual service of God. Accordingly her own sisters having elected to become enclosed nuns, she after returning home from school, never desisted until, her wish being fulfilled, in the year 1888 she entered the Monastery of the Carmelite nuns at Lisieux, where clothed with the religious habit, taking the name of Theresa of the Child Jesus, and having passed through her noviciate in an exemplary manner, on September 8th, 1890, she pronounced her solemn vows. Three years later being appointed to aid with the duties of Mistress of Novices, she faithfully and holily continued to discharge the duties of this office until her death. Towards the close of her 23rd year, the Servant of God being afflicted with a deadly malady of the lungs, was obliged to take to her bed. For five months having lain prostrate in consequence of the steady progress of the inroads of the disease, borne by her most patiently, she eventually passed away in the Lord on September 30th, 1897, and after all the last funeral rites had been duly carried out, she was buried in the Cemetery of Lisieux.

The fame for sanctity which Sister Theresa had acquired during her lifetime, after her death became notably so widespread and so enduring that an enquiry for the taking of evidence regarding her was set on foot by the authority of the Bishop of her Diocese. This enquiry having been brought to a close, and the evidence having been transmitted to the sacred Congregation of Rites, as soon as all preliminaries were duly carried through, at the instance of the Most Reverend Father Roderick of St. Francis of Paula, Postulator General of the Order of Discalced Carmelites, who petitioned for the Introduction of the Cause, due consideration having been given to the Betters of certain of the Most Eminent Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, of many Bishops, as well as of the heads of Orders and Congregations of both sexes, the Most Eminent and most Reverend Lord Cardinal Jerome Gotti, the Cardinal in charge of the Cause, at an ordinary Meeting of the sacred Congregation of Rites held at the Vatican on the date mentioned below, submitted the following question for discussion Should the Commission for the Introduction of the Cause be signed in the present case, and to the given effect ?

Whereupon the Most Eminent and Reverend Fathers, the Cardinals on the sacred Congregation of Rites, after hearing the statement of the Most Eminent Cardinal in charge of the Cause, as well as the views given in writing and by word of mouth, by the Right Reverend Father Alexander Verde, Promotor of the Holy Faith, after carefully weighing the matter in all its bearings, decided that it should be written in answer : Yes, that is, that the Commission should be signed, if. approved by His Holiness. June 9th, 1914.

Later on an account of these matters having been given to our most holy Lord, Pope Pius X by the undersigned Secretary of the sacred Congregation of Rites, His Holiness giving his approval to the Rescript of the said Congregation, with his own hand was pleased to sign the Commission for the Introduction of the Cause of the Beatification and Canonization of the Servant of God Sister Theresa of the Child Jesus, Discalced Carmelite of the Monastery of Lisieux, the tenth day of the same month and year.

Fr. S. Card. Martinelli, Prefect.

* Peter La Fontaine, Bp. of Carystus, Secretary.

*  Note that the Roman documents mistake the baptismal names of Therese's mother, which were, in fact, "Azelie-Marie."  

(Source: The Unfolding of the Little Flower: Sanctity in Our Day, by William M. Cunningham, 1916).

This event, introducing a new phase in Therese's cause, was the culmination of many steps already taken.  First, see below the events that happened before 1914:

1898

March 7: Bishop Hugonin, bishop of the diocese of Bayeux and Lisieux, approves the publication of “Story of a Soul.”

October 20: First publication of Histoire d’une Âme (Story of a Soul). 2,000 copies are printed.

1899-1900

The first pilgrims begin to visit the grave of Thérèse. The first miracles are reported.

1906:     July 6.  Univers publishes a story by François Veuillet saying that the Carmel is working to introduce the cause of Sister Therese at Rome.

1907:     The newly appointed bishop of Bayeux and Lisieux, Bishop Lemonnier, authorizes a prayer asking for the canonization of Sister Thérèse.

October 15:  Bishop Lemonnier asks the Carmelites to write down their memories of Sister Thérèse.

1908

May 26:  A four-year-old blind girl, Reine Fauquet of Lisieux, is cured at the grave of Sister Thérèse

1909:     January:  Father Rodrigue, O.C.D. is named Postulator of the Cause; Mgr de Teil is named Vice-Postulator.

1910

March 5: the Sacred Congregation for Rites invited Bishop Lemonnier to examine the writings of Thérèse.

May-June:  The Process of the Writings takes place at Lisieux.

August:  The diocesan tribunal is set up at Lisieux to hear the testimony of witnesses about Sister Thérèse’s life and her reputation for sanctity.

1911

August:  The hearing of witnesses is completed.

September:  The process of non-cultus is held at Lisieux.   

December 12:  The diocesan tribunal is solemnly closed at Lisieux.  The file is sent to the Sacred Congregation for Rites in Rome.

March 13, 1912:  The Sacred Congregation for Rites in Rome begins its examination of the diocesan process for Thérèse.

June 9, 1914:  The Sacred Congregation for Rites issued its Commission for the Introduction of the Cause of Sister Thérèse.

June 10, 1914:  In one of the last official acts of his papacy, Pope St. Pius X signs the decree with his own hand.  He would die on August 20, 1914.  

 

"St. Therese and World War I," for July 28, 2014, the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the war

idealized black and white painting of Sister Therese on a battlefield of World War I, near a cross, surrounded by wounded.  A cannon is visible at left.  Her hands are raised in blessing, and a shower of rose petals is drifting down from the sky over the battlefield

from the cover of "Pluie de Roses"

July 28, 2014 is the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I: it was on July 28, 1914 that Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia.  Devotion to St. Therese was already widespread; Pope Pius X, in one of the last official acts of his papacy, had just signed the introduction to her cause in Rome on June 28, 1914.   During the war devotion to Therese grew like wildfire.  Both French and German soldiers carried her photos into battle; some wore a relic of Therese and said that these relics had actually stopped the bullets. Because so many soldiers demanded medals of her, the Church made an exception to permit medals to be made before Sister Therese was beatified.  Countless soldiers, alone or in formal military pilgrimages, visited her tomb to pray in thanksgiving.  Many sent their military medals and other thank-offerings to the Carmel of Lisieux.The Carmel was deluged with letters from chaplains and soldiers testifying to how Therese protected soldiers. 

The annual publication "Shower of Roses" published accounts of healings, protections, and conversions attributed to St. Therese during the war, and, thanks to the Abbey of St. Benedict of Port-Valais in Switzerland, if you read French, you can read "Shower of Roses: Interventions of St. Therese of the Child Jesus during the war, 1914-1918").  I believe that, until now, these accounts appeared in English only as appendices to the editions of Therese's memoir that appeared in English during the war years.  Now, in honor of the centenary of World War I, the Web site of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux has created in English the page "Therese and the First World War."  Here you can see English translations of mail received from the front lines,several illustrations by Charles Jouvenot of the events reported by the soldiers, post cards and holy cards sent by soldiers to Lisieux Carmel, and ex voto offerings (banners, military medals, and other souvenirs) sent to the nuns.  I am grateful to the Carmel for sharing its treasures with us.