Saint Therese of the Child Jesus is Loved Throughout the World
Saint Therese is Loved Throughout the World
Saint Therese Finds You!
It's been said that Saint Therese finds you. I believe this is true.
She is a very special saint who seeks us out, usually just when we need her. Right now, she is one of the most popular Catholic saints, and people around the world call on her whenever they need help from Heaven.
It's said that she always hears and answers our prayers, even if the end result is not exactly what we asked for. However, you can rest assured the final outcome is always the best course.
There was a time, in my life, when I hadn't yet "met" Saint Therese. She is also commonly referred to as "The Little Flower," a nickname was given to her because she believed she was so small and insignificant.
Getting to Know Her
For years, as a practicing Catholic, I had heard about Saint Therese. A couple of people had handed me her prayer cards, and spoke about her, but I didn't spend much time trying to find out more about her, or her short, but remarkable life.
That changed the day a very holy monk sought me out of a crowd of people at a religious gathering and started talking about Saint Therese. I didn't know him, and he didn't know me, but something compelled him to introduce himself and start telling me about his favorite saint.
I didn't know it at the time, but, for me, this was a life-changing experience. Saint Therese is my number one saint as well. Right now, I almost feel as if she is a close friend in Heaven, whom I can turn to and confide in for all of my spiritual and temporal needs.
Who Was Saint Therese?
Saint Therese was the daughter of Zelie Guerin and Louis Martin, two very pious people who once considered entering religious life before their marriage. Therese was their youngest daughter, born on January 2, 1873.
Her early childhood was very happy, because she was the baby of the family and everyone doted on her. However, her world was shattered when, at age four, her mother died from breast cancer.
Therese's oldest sister, Pauline, stepped in and became a mother figure. But Pauline later entered a convent, leaving Therese feeling as if she had just lost her mother once again.
In her autobiographical writings called The Story of a Soul, published after her death, Therese freely admits she had selfish and childish tendencies until she turned her heart and soul over to Christ, when she was 14 years of age.
She then desired to join the religious life herself, but she was too young. But she did enter a Carmelite convent in Lisieux, France at age 15 with special permission.
Although she was just a teenager, she developed a deep spirituality known as the "Little Way." This does not require heroic sacrifice and all night vigils of prayer. Instead, it consists of offering your everyday joys and sufferings in union with Jesus, on the Cross.
For instance, Therese didn't take on severe penances. But she endured her trials and sufferings without complaint. Another sister had a habit of making distracting noises in the chapel. Therese decided not to say anything, and, instead, lived with the annoyance. One sister inadvertently splashed water in her face while washing dishes. Again, Therese bore this patiently.
Lisieux - The Home of Saint Therese
Her Short, But Meaningful, Life
Saint Therese retained her good sense of humor, even though she was a cloistered religious. She was very good at making others laugh, and her ability to (kindly) mimic people's voices was second to none.
She entered the convent healthy and robust, but, in the prime of life, she realized she was going to die soon. One morning she coughed up blood, a sign of tuberculosis. In 19th-century France, this disease had a predictably fatal course.
She thanked Jesus for giving her this very heavy cross.
Therese suffered a lingering, agonizing death without benefit of pain medication before passing into eternity, on September 30, 1897, at age 24. Her Mother Superior believed earthly suffering was redemptive, for the one's own soul and also for the souls of others, so she didn't believe a nun should take anything to relieve the agony of impending death.
(Therese's superior didn't take anything for her own pain either, when she later succumbed to cancer.)
Before dying, Saint Therese made some profound comments. One was that she couldn't suffer anymore, because she enjoyed suffering for Christ. If something was enjoyable, it wasn't suffering.
Another is a more famous expression she uttered on her deathbed.
"My mission - to make God loved - will begin after my death. I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. I will let fall a shower of roses," she said.
People who pray for her intercession often receive roses, sometimes live ones, other times roses printed on paper. Some people also report smelling roses, even though no roses are visible.
The Legacy of Saint Therese
Saint Therese lived a very hidden life. She spent her time in the cloister praying for the world, and for one priest in particular, a missionary in Vietnam. He prayed for her as well, although the two of them never met.
Although she had originally hoped to become a missionary herself, helping to spread the knowledge of God all over the world, this didn't happen until after her death.
After she died, Therese became well known through The Story of a Soul, the account of her life. People then began to turn to her in prayer, and found their petitions were answered.
In 1925, Saint Therese was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1925. She's also been called the "Prodigy of Miracles," as well as "The Greatest Saint in Modern Times."
Her Intercession Continues
Her miracles from Heaven are legendary. One great favor I personally know of happened to a priest, now in his late 80s. As a toddler, he cut his index finger so deeply it wouldn't retract.
His parents were distraught at the thought of their son going through life with one finger always pointing outward that they prayed a novena to Saint Therese every day for an entire year.
At the end of that novena, on her Feast Day, their son's finger was perfectly healed.
I also received a beautiful rose I believe was sent by Saint Therese. After the monk told me about her life, he took out a small note card he carried with him and wrote my prayer intentions on it. These intentions would be prayed for by a woman devoted to this saint. He assured me my prayers would be heard.
(Catholics pray to people in heaven (saints) much the way we ask our friends on earth to pray for us. The prayers of the saints are very powerful, because they are now with God.)
Then I forgot about this encounter with the monk.
A few months later, a friend explained to me about the roses Saint Therese sends our way, letting us know our petition is heard.
It was only then that I remembered my prayer intentions written on the monk's note card. The woman had been praying for my relatives. One of these relatives had visited a Marian Shrine, and he had plucked a red rose from a bush outside and mailed it to me.
It's no wonder so many people turn to Saint Therese in a time of need.
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The Life of Saint Therese - Short Video
Incorrupt Bodies of the Saints
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The Catholic Church recognizes that the bodies of some canonized saints never decay, even centuries after death.