St. Therese as a young professed
under the priorate of Mother Marie de Gonzague

 The hidden years: September 8, 1890 - February 20, 1893


On September 8, 1890, "flooded by a river of peace," Therese, at seventeen, made her vows as a Carmelite nun.  See documents and photos about St. Therese's religious Profession.  On September 24, 1890, Therese received the black veil of the professed Carmelite choir nun.  This ceremony happened in the choir, and a few friends and relatives stood in the sanctuary.  To Therese's bitter disappointment, her father, still sick, was not present.  According to the custom of the Lisieux Carmel, Therese remained in the novitiate for three years after her Profession.

In February 1891 Therese was named aide to the sacristan.  In the spring and summer, as her letters to Celine show, she prayed especially for Fr. Hyacinthe Loyson, once a Carmelite friar, who had broken with the Church, married an American widow, and established a "Catholic Gallican Church."  She prayed for Fr. Loyson to the end of her life, offering her last Communion for him on August 19, 1897. 

Read Therese's account of a funny little conflict with Sister Martha of Jesus that took place during these years.

From October 8-15, 1891 Fr. Alexis Prou, a Franciscan, preached the annual community retreat at Carmel.  Therese's confession to him was a great grace:  "Hardly had I entered the confessional than I felt my soul expand.  After speaking only a few words, I was understood in a marvelous way.  My soul was like a book in which this priest read better than I did myself.  He launched me full sail upon the waves of confidence and love which so attracted me, but upon which I had not yet dared to set out." 

On December 5, 1891, Mother Genevieve of St. Teresa, the saintly foundress of the Lisieux Carmel, died.  Therese called her "a saint . . . . who was made holy by the practice of the hidden virtues, the ordinary virtues."  A few weeks later the influenza epidemic that ravaged France swept through the Carmel.  In eight days three Carmelites died.  Therese, one of three nuns who did not get sick, showed such presence of mind that Canon Delatroette changed his mind about her, saying "she shows great promise for this community." 

On May 10, 1892, Therese's father, who was now paralyzed, returned to Lisieux.  Two days later he made his last visit to the Carmel.  Read about Pauline's election as prioress in 1893 and Therese's life until the death of her father on July 29, 1894.