St. Therese of the Child Jesus

Feast: 1 Oct.

Therese Martin was born at in Alencon in France in 1873. At the age of fifteen she entered the Discalced Carmel of Lisieux. She practised heroic humility, evangelical simplicity and confidence in God. By word and example she taught the novices these same virtues.

St. Therese lived only to the age of twenty-four. Yet her writings had a profound effect on the spirituality of the twentieth century. The Church, still suffering from the negative effects of Jansenism (the theological view that God was very distant from men), welcomed her liberating message emphasising God's overwhelming mercy, forgiveness and the opening up of the possibility of sanctity to all, especially to ordinary people and not just to a few powerful and elite members of the Church. Since Jesus told us that God is Our Father, Therese adheres to this teaching with all her strength and restores its original meaning. She had a deep understanding that such a teaching has two complementary aspects: a keen realisation of God's fatherhood towards us and the need for us to develop a filial attitude of absolute confidence towards God our Father, thus the doctrine of spiritual childhood. Therese had much more to say especially on the primacy of love and the struggle for faith in the modern world.

St Therese died after a long and painful illness on September 30th 1897. She was canonized in 1925 and successive popes have referred to her as the greatest saint of modern times. She was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II in 1997. She is co-patroness of the Missions and secondary patron of France. It has been said of her that she did for the individual Christian what Vatican II was later to do for the whole Christian community.


Principal Events in the Life of St. Thérèse of Lisieux

1873 Thursday, January 2: Thérèse born in Alençon
1880 At the beginning of the year or end of preceding year: Thérèse makes first confession.
1883 Sunday, May 13 (Pentecost): Thérèse cured suddenly by the Blessed Virgin's smile.

Eleven years old, Thursday, May 8: Thérèse's First Communion, at the Abbey.
Saturday, June 14: Thérèse confirmed by Bishop Hugonin at the Abbey.

1886 Saturday, December 25 (Christmas): grace of "conversion."

Sunday, May 29 (Pentecost): Thérèse receives her father's permission to enter Carmel.
Monday, October 3 1: Thérèse visits Bishop Hugonin in Bayeux.
Friday, November 4 to Friday, December 2: Thérèse on pilgrimage to Paris, Switzerland, Italy, and Rome.

1888 Monday, April 9 (Annunciation): Thérèse enters Lisieux Carmel.
1889 Thursday, January 10: Thérèse clothed in habit.
1890 Monday, September 8 (Birth of Mary): Thérèse's final profession of vows.

During the year: Thérèse writes Manuscript A.
Sunday, June 9 (Trinity Sunday): Thérèse makes her Offering to Merciful Love.


Friday, April 3 (Good Friday): First hemoptysis, repeated in the evening.
Sunday, April 5 (Easter): Beginning of Thérèse's "trial of faith," which continues until her death.
Tuesday, September 8: Thérèse begins Manuscript B.


Beginning of April: Thérèse falls seriously ill at the end of Lent.
Tuesday, April 6: Mother Agnes begins recording Thérèse's Last Conversations.
Thursday, June 3: Thérèse begins Manuscript C.
Thursday, July 8: Thérèse is transferred to the monastery infirmary.
Friday, July 30: Thérèse experiences continued hemoptyses and feelings of suffocation. At 6 PM she receives viaticum and extreme unction.
Thursday, September 30: Thérèse dies at about 7:20 PM. Her finals words are "My God, I love you."
Monday, October 4: Thérèse is buried in the Lisieux cemetery.


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