Books about the family of St. Therese
The first English translation of the definitive edition of the letters of Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin
Welcome to the world of Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin of Alençon, the parents of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus of the Holy Face. In 218 letters, Zélie, writing between the ages of 31 and 45, writes the story of a family that gave birth to Story of a Soul, the memoir of her daughter, the saint. Here Zélie shares herself unreservedly: happy as a wife and mother, overwhelmed with responsibility as a business owner, saddened by the deaths of her parents and four of her children, sensitive to slights and indifference, concerned for her surviving daughters, longing to become holy. When she is diagnosed with breast cancer, in the midst of a very human desire to live, she shows us how to abandon ourselves to God in the face of death.
Only 16 letters from her husband survive, but Zélie introduces us to the younger Louis Martin in the years before he suffered from Alzheimer's disease and was interned in a psychiatric hospital. We see him here as never before as husband, father, and friend.
In beatifying Zélie and Louis in 2008, the Church recognized a fundamental reality: that each one experienced severe traumas, but the effects of these traumas were no obstacle to sanctity. Louis and Zélie accepted their own powerlessness, that God might be all-powerful in their lives. The transforming influence of their daughter Thérèse on human history is the fruit of that acceptance. Reading about their profound love for each other and for their children and about the deep faith they lived painfully in the midst of many ordeals is a source of healing and liberation. Zélie and Louis offer us a personal experience of the motherhood and fatherhood of God. The book is a mirror of the human face of holiness.
A Call to a Deeper Love is a translation of Correspondance familiale, the definitive edition of these letters published in French by Editions du Cerf in 2004. The preface, the notes, and the presentation are the work of Bishop Guy Gaucher, O.C.D., retired auxiliary bishop of Bayeux and Lisieux and distinguished scholar of St. Therese, and of the Carmelites of Lisieux. The text is exquisitely translated by Ann Hess. Dr. Frances Renda added jewels unique to this English edition, including an introduction that reflects her intimate and delicate understanding of the depths of the marital spirituality of Louis and Zélie; background on nineteenth-century France that helps the reader place these letters in context; a chronology of Thérèse’s family that will be a classic reference; and many new and expanded footnotes. 32 pages of photos, many previously unpublished, illustrate the volume.
In Story of a Soul Thérèse wrote a new chapter in the history of the human response to divine love. Zélie and Louis wrote with their lives a new chapter in the history of marriage: the extraordinary response of two spouses to the call to mirror Christ to each other and to create a family that was a crucible of sainthood. A Call to a Deeper Love offers a unique understanding of a couple who became holy in and through their marriage, and it immeasurably deepens our understanding of the influences that surrounded St. Thérèse. Treat yourself to this down-to-earth, yet inspiring book. To purchase, click here pr on the image above.
"Louis Martin, Father of a Saint" by Joyce Emert. To order, click on the title.
"The Story of a Family is the story of St. Thérèse's family written by the Franciscan Stephane-Joseph Piat, who was aided by Céline (Sister Genevieve), the last surviving sister of St. Therese. Written in the style of the 1950s, it contains many fascinating details about the history of the Martin family, their roots in Alencon, and their life at Lisieux. 464 pages, paperback; $24.95. To order, click at the top of the book cover image above, or click here.
Fr. Piat also wrote Celine: Sister and Witness of St. Therese of the Child Jesus. He worked closely with Celine (Sister Genevieve of the Holy Face) toward the end of her life. The book is rich in details of the intimacy between the two sisters as children and as young girls (Therese called Celine the "sweet echo of my soul"), of their life together at Lisieux Carmel from 1894-1897, and of the happenings at the Lisieux Carmel from then until Celine's death in 1959.
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