Saint Stories: St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux or Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, O.C.D. was a Roman Catholic French Discalced Carmelite nun who had a fathomless devotion to the Child Jesus. As such, she has become known for her affection for the small things and the Holy Face.

Born in France in 1897, she grew up in a strictly devout Catholic household, where she often played pretend that she was a nun. She was a happy child until she age four-and-a-half, when her mother died. She became more insular and introspective, a quiet observer.

When her two older sisters were cloistered at the Carmelite monastery, the future "Little Flower of Jesus" yearned to follow in her sisters' footsteps. She often went through periods of mental anguish and tremors, and was wracked with pathological guilt over religious issues. However, on Christmas Eve in 1886, at age 13, Thérèse felt the sudden presence of the Christ Child within her. Her anxieties were replaced with a deep feeling of grace. Two years later, on April 9, 1888, she became a Carmelite postulant. As she advanced into novitiate, Thérèse began to practice small virtues and became engrossed in the idea of littleness, often referring to herself as a grain of sand. She studied, wrote and contemplated the Holy Face.

Due to her youth, her novitiate was extended until September 8, 1890, at age 17 and a half, when she was at last allowed to make her final commitment. On the eve of the ceremony, she was again wracked with guilt and panic, until the next day, when she was filled with an overwhelming sense of peace. For years she continued her devotions, doing small acts of charity, accepting more bullying with silence and grace, and turning her thoughts always to the Child Jesus. She decided not to become a full sister, preferring to write and teach her "little way" of living.

On Good Friday 1896, Thérèse woke after coughing up blood - a fatal sign of tuberculosis. She suffered greatly over the next year before her death on September 30, 1897, aged 24.

Quick Facts about St. Thérèse of Lisieux
Feast Day: October 1
Best known for: Being a French Discalced Carmelite nun popularly known as "The Little Flower of Jesus" or simply "The Little Flower."
Born: January 2. 1873
Died: September 39, 1897
Beatified: April 29, 1923
Canonized: May 17, 1925


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