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Therese of Lisieux: Three French Saints

Author(s): N/A

ISBN13: 9781856076579


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  • Criostoir O Floinn, a prolific writer in both Irish and English, has produced this trilogy of lives of three famous French saints , Joan of Arc, Bernadette Soubirous and Thérèse of Lisieux. Written in very readable and simple language, each book gives a background to the times of the saint in question and then a full account of those aspects of their lives which gave rise to their being canonised by the church.

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    This, the first in a trilogy on French saints by the author Criostoir O Floinn, deals with Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower, a figure for whom the Irish have enormous affection.

    The French have a remarkable tradition of producing women saints, but Thérèse is unique for the impact she wielded in a life that was abruptly ended by tuberculosis at the young age of twenty-four. A mere twenty-seven years after her death, she was officially proclaimed a saint by Pope Pius XI.

    Criostoir O Floinn traces the stages of her spiritual evolution from timorous young child whose mother passed away when she was six years old, to fragile and then assertive adolescent who was accepted somewhat controversially into the Carmelite convent of Lisieux at the tender age of fifteen.

    Saintly qualities

    Soon her saintly qualities became apparent to the community and she was instructed to write down an account of her ideas on the religious life by the Prioress. This resulted in The Story of a Soul, with its passages of intense mystical spirituality which touched the many who would subsequently read it.

    The story of Thérèses strong inner life is difficult to chart for reasons that she herself captured very well in her response to the request that she write of her spiritual experiences: How am I to express heavenly mysteries in the language of earth?

    O Floinn faced a similar dilemma, that of describing a path to sainthood in the language of earth. However, he does succeed in conveying the essential episodes of this eventful, if short, life.

    The apparition of Our Lady which brought peace to the troubled young girl was clearly significant: All at once, she let me see her in her beauty, a beauty that surpassed all my experience - her face wore such a look of kindness and pity as I cannot describe; but what pierced me to the heart was her smile.


    Similarly, her conviction that the path she chose would of necessity involve pain: Our Lord let me see clearly that if I wanted to win souls I would have to do it by bearing a cross; so, the more suffering came my way, the more strongly did suffering attract me.

    The book is most effective when we hear the voice of Thérèse directly. O Floinn skilfully traces her life in the extremely devout Martin family that had the distinction of having two parents and a daughter canonised.

    I feel that this is a book that will be well-received in Ireland, mainly because it tells the story of a saint with a broad appeal, who could express sentiments like the following: To offer oneself as a victim to Love means to give oneself up without any reservations for whatever God pleases, which means to share with Jesus his humiliations, his chalice of bitterness.

    - Eamonn Maher, The Irish Catholic, Sept. 2009


Therese of Lisieux: Three French Saints

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