Thérèse was born in 1873 in France and given the baptismal name Marie Françoise Thérèse Martin. The youngest Martin daughter, she had a childhood marked by illness, great familial affection, very devout Catholic parents, four close sisters, the untimely death of her mother when Marie was just four years old, followed by several years of depression and self-isolation, before realizing a childlike faith, hope, and a strong desire to do God’s will. This paved the way for her deeply spiritual life journey.
Ten fun facts about Thérèse:
1. Thérèse always carried the Gospels and the Epistles of Saint Paul close to her heart. She noted,
2. Thérèse’s parents, Louis and Zelie Martin, had nine children, four of whom would die in early childhood.
3. Louis and Zelie became saints of the Church on October 18, 2015. Notably, they were the first married couple to be considered together for sainthood, and then were the first to actually be canonized together.
4. Each of the five remaining children of Louis and Zelie, all girls, would enter religious life:
–Thérèse’s two oldest sisters were the first to enter the local cloistered Carmelite monastery in Lisieux:
–Marie Louise, the eldest, would became Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart;
–Marie Pauline, the second sister, who would eventually be elected as the mother prioress of Carmel, would be known as Mother Agnes of Jesus;
—Marie Françoise Thérèse, the youngest daughter, would enter in 1788 at the age of 15, taking the name Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, O.C.D.;
–The fourth sister, Céline, who cared for their father until his death in 1894, entered Carmel that same year and became Sister Genevieve of the Holy Face.
–Their first cousin, Marie Guérin, followed them to Carmel in 1895 and became Sister Marie of the Eucharist.
–Finally, the third sister, Léonie followed a different path and entered the Monastery of the Visitation of Holy Mary, taking the name Sister Françoise-Thérèse, and becoming the only Martin sister to not enter Carmel.
7. Thérèse’s childhood heroine was Joan of Arc. Later, while at Carmel, she would write two plays about Joan for the Carmelite nuns to perform on feast days to honor of the Catholic woman who would become the patron saint of France.
To learn more about Saint Thérèse of Lisieux:
Spreading Devotion to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: The Greatest Saint of Modern Times