As part of our initiative for the Year of Faith, Veritasis proud to present Profiles in Faith, a series of essays on the life and work of Christian men and women who lived their lives as ‘faith in action’. We encourage you to read the accounts, and to reflect on them over the course of the month. Additional biographical sources are also suggested, should you wish to find out more.
Profile Eleven: St Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower
The life of St Thérèse of Lisieux is the story of one person finding and responding to God’s grace in the smallest things of daily life. Thérèse Marie-Françiose Martin was born on January 2, 1873 in Alençon, a small town about 105 miles west of Paris, France. As a teenager she became aware of Henri Pranzini, an unrepentant and convicted murderer, and she prayed from him. As he was being executed, Pranzini grasped a crucifix and kissed it. Thérèse, overwhelmed by joy at the news of Pranzini’s repentance, vowed that she would include praying for others as part of her way of life.
Thérèse saw that all life is graced. She saw God present in everything, in everyone and in every situation. In 1888, at the age of fifteen, Thérèse joined two of her older sisters in the cloistered Carmelite community of Lisieux, Normandy. Sr Thérèse committed the remainder of her short life (she died when she was twenty-four years old) to fulfillinf every task, no matter how small, out of love. Thérèse called her attitude and response to life the ‘little way’.
‘The Little Way’ of St Thérèse of Lisieux, who is also known as ‘The Little Flower’, teaches us tha value and significance of doing the ordinary things of life with love and a sense of God’s presence. Because of the depth of Thérèse’s insights into the active presence of God in life and the way she responded to that presence, Pope Pius XI named her a saint of the Church.
In 1997 Blessed Pope John Paul II declared St Thérèse of Lisieux to be one of the only three women to be honoured among the thirty-three Doctors, or Great Teachers, of the Universal Church.
- What can you learn for your own life from St Thérése’s ‘Little Way’?