Saint Therese of Lisieux

[Saint Therese of Lisieux]Also known as

  • Francoise-Marie Therese Martin
  • Teresa of the Infant Jesus
  • the Little Flower of Jesus
  • the Little Flower
  • Therese of the Child Jesus

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Born to a pious middle-class French family of tradesmen; daughter of Blessed Louis Martin and Blessed Marie-Azelie Guérin Martin, and all four of her sisters became nuns. Her mother died when Francoise-Marie was only four, and the family moved to Lisieux, Normandy, France to be closer to family. Cured from an illness at age eight when a statue of the Blessed Virgin smiled at her. Educated by the Benedictine nuns of Notre-Dame-du-Pre. Confirmed there at age eleven. Just before her 14th birthday she received a vision of the Child Jesus; she immediately understood the great sacrifice that had been made for her, and developed an unshakeable faith. Tried to join the Carmelites, but was turned down due to her age. Pilgrim to Rome, Italy at for the Jubilee of Pope Leo XIII whom she met and who knew of her desire to become a nun. Joined the Carmelites at Lisieux on 9 April 1888 at age 15, taking her final vow on 8 September 1890 at age 17. Known by all for her complete devotion to spiritual development and to the austerities of the Carmelite rule. Due to health problems resulting from her ongoing fight with tuberculosis, her superiors ordered her not to fast. Novice mistress at age 20. At age 22 she was ordered by her prioress to begin writing her memories and ideas, which material would turn into the book History of a Soul. Therese defined her path to God and holiness as The Little Way, which consisted of child-like love and trust in God. She had an on-going correspondence with Carmelite missionaries in China, often stating how much she wanted to come work with them. Many miracles attributed to her. Declared a Doctor of the Church in 1997 by Pope John Paul II.

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For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy. - Saint Therese of Lisieux

What beauty? I don’t see my beauty at all; I see only the graces I’ve received from God. You always misunderstand me; you don’t know, then, that I’m only a little seedling, a little almond. - Saint Therese of Lisieux

You know well enough that Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, but at the love with which we do them. - Saint Therese of Lisieux

O Jesus, Your little bird is happy to be weak and little. What would become of it if it were big? Never would it have the boldness to appear in Your presence, to fall asleep in front of You. Yes, this is still one of the weaknesses of the little bird: when it wants to fix its gaze upon the Divine Sun, and when the clouds prevent it from seeing a single ray of that Sun, in spite of itself, its little eyes close, its little head is hidden beneath its wing, and the poor little thing falls asleep, believing all the time that it is fixing its gaze upon its Dear Star. When it awakens, it doesn’t feel desolate; its little heart is at peace and it begins once again its work of love. It calls upon the angels and saints who rise like eagles before the consuming Fire, and since this is the object of the little bird’s desire the eagles take pity on it, protecting and defending it, and putting to flight at the same time the vultures who want to devour it. These vultures are the demons whom the little bird doesn’t fear, for it is not destined to be their prey but the prey of the Eagle whom it contemplates in the center of the Sun of Love. - Saint Therese of Lisieux, from Story of a Soul

Kneeling before the tabernacle, I can think of only one thing to say to our Lord: “My God, you know that I love You.” And I feel that my prayer does not weary Jesus; knowing my weakness, He is satisfied with my good will. - Saint Therese of Lisieux

Our Lord needs from us neither great deeds nor profound thoughts. Neither intelligence nor talents. He cherishes simplicity. - Saint Therese of Lisieux

The practice of charity, as I have said, dear Mother [Mother Agnes, i.e., her sister Pauline, prioress at the time], was not always so sweet for me, and to prove it to you I am going to recount certain little struggles which will certainly make you smile. For a long time at evening meditation, I was placed in front of a Sister who had a strange habit and I think many lights because she rarely used a book during meditation. This is what I noticed: as soon as this Sister arrived, she began making a strange little noise which resembled the noise one would make when rubbing two shells, one against the other. I was the only one to notice it because I had extremely sensitive hearing (too much so at times). Mother, it would be impossible for me to tell you how much this little noise wearied me. I had a great desire to turn my head and stare at the culprit who was very certainly unaware of her “click.” This would be the only way of enlightening her. However, in the bottom of my heart I felt it was much better to suffer this out of love for God and not to cause the Sister any pain. I remained calm, therefore, and tried to unite myself to God and to forget the little noise. Everything was useless. I felt the perspiration inundate me, and I was obliged simply to make a prayer of doing it without annoyance and with peace and joy, at least in the interior of my soul. I tried to love the little noise which was so displeasing; instead of trying not to hear it (impossible), I paid close attention so as to hear it well, as though it were a delightful concert, and my prayer (which was not the Prayer of Quiet) was spent in offering this concert to Jesus. - Saint Therese of Lisieux, from Story of a Soul

Our Lord does not come down from Heaven every day to lie in a golden ciborium. He comes to find another heaven which is infinitely dearer to him – the heaven of our souls, created in His Image, the living temples of the Adorable Trinity. - Saint Therese of Lisieux

Since my longing for martyrdom was powerful and unsettling, I turned to the epistles of Saint Paul in the hope of finally finding an answer. By chance the twelfth and thirteenth chapters of the first epistle to the Corinthians caught my attention, and in the first section I read that not everyone can be an apostle, prophet or teacher, that the Church is composed of a variety of members, and that the eye cannot be the hand. Even with such an answer revealed before me, I was not satisfied and did not find peace. I persevered in the reading and did not let my mind wander until I found this encouraging theme: “Set your desires on the greater gifts. And I will not show you the way which surpasses all others.” For the Apostle insists that the greater gifts are nothing at all without love and that this same love is surely the best path leading directly to God. At length I had found peace of mind. Love appeared to me to be the hinge for my vocation. Indeed, I knew that the Church had a body composed of various members, but in this body the necessary and more noble member was not lacking; I knew that the Church had a heart and that such a heart appeared to be aflame with love. I knew that one love drove the members of the Church to action, that if this love were extinguished, the apostles would have proclaimed the Gospel no longer, the martyrs would have shed their blood no more. I saw and realized that love sets off the bounds of all vocations, that love is everything, that this same love embraces every time and every place. In one word, that love is everlasting. - from the autobiography of Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus

Above all it’s the Gospels that occupy my mind when I’m at prayer; my poor soul has so many needs, and yet this is the one thing needful. I’m always finding fresh lights there, hidden and enthralling meanings. - Saint Therese of Lisieux

Really, I am far from being a saint, and what I have just said is proof of this; instead of rejoicing, for example, at my aridity, I should attribute it to my little fervor and lack of fidelity; I should be desolate for having slept (for seven years) during my hours of prayer and my thanksgivings after Holy Communion; well, I am not desolate. I remember that little children are as pleasing to their parents when they are asleep as well as when they are wide awake; I remember, too, that when they perform operations, doctors put their patients to sleep. Finally, I remember that: “The Lord knows our weakness, that he is mindful that we are but dust and ashes.” - Saint Therese of Lisieux, from Story of a Soul

Jesus set the book of nature before me and I saw that all the flowers he has created are lovely. The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of its scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. I realized that if every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness and there would be no wildflowers to make the meadows gay. It is just the same in the world of souls – which is the garden of Jesus. He has created the great saints who are like the lilies and the roses, but he has also created much lesser saints and they must be content to be the daisies or the violets which rejoice his eyes whenever he glances down. Perfection consists in doing his will, in being that which he wants us to be. Jesus, help me to simplify my life by learning what you want me to be – and becoming that person. - Saint Therese of Lisieux, from Story of a Soul

Oh! no, you will see…it will be like a shower of roses. After my death, you will go to the mail box, and you will find many consolations. - Saint Therese on 9 June 1897 after Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart told her we would be very sorry after she died

MLA Citation

  • “Saint Therese of Lisieux“. Saints.SQPN.com. 24 June 2014. Web. 25 July 2014. <>