Saint Thérèse of Lisieux

1873 - 1897

Doctor of the Church


Feastday: October 1; Patron of the Missions

Also known as: Thérèse of the Child Jesus; the Little Flower; the Little Flower of Jesus

One of the most beloved Saints of the Church, and Our Blessed Mother’s most precious daughter, St. Therese of Lisieux, and her love and devotion to Our Lord is a story that touches the hearts of millions.

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux was born as Marie Françoise Thérèse Martin in Alençon, Normandy, on the 2nd January 1873 as the pampered daughter of Louis Martin, a watchmaker and jeweller and Zélie Guérin, a lace-maker. A father who had wanted to be monk and a mother who had wanted to be a saint. The two had gotten married but determined they would be celibate until a priest told them that was not how God wanted a marriage to work! They must have followed his advice very well because they had nine children, of whom five daughters survived early childhood; four died in their infancy. If Zélie was to have children she was determined they should give their lives to religion, and all five became nuns. By the birth of Thérèse Zélie had breast cancer, and the doctor advised her that her milk would poison the baby; so Thérèse was given to a wet-nurse in the country. She returned to the Martin home when she was fifteen months old. When Thérèse was four and a half years old, her mother died in August 1877, leaving four-year-old Thérèse to the care of her father and older sisters: Marie, Pauline, Leonie, and Celine. Pauline became Thérèse's surrogate mother, but the traumatic loss of her birth mother affected her entire childhood. Thérèse became so hypersensitive that she cried over the smallest things--and then would cry all over again because she cried.

After Zelie's death, Louis Martin moved his family to Lisieux to be near his late wife's family. When Thérèse was eight, she enrolled in the Benedictine Abbey School as a day student. Thérèse did not flourish at the Benedictine Abbey School and was extremely unhappy there. She would later describe these years as "the saddest of her life". It was during these years that she had also lost her surrogate mother, when Pauline entered the Carmelite monastery in Lisieux in 1882. This proved to be an enormous psychological blow that made Thérèse physically ill for a time. Finally, in 1886 she left the school and started taking private lessons. Also in 1886, two more of her sisters left home for the convent--Leonie to the Visitandines and Marie to the Lisieux Carmel, where Pauline was already a professed sister.

At the age of 14 Therese decided that she wanted to enter the Discalced convent at Lisieux. Her two older sisters had preceded her into that same convent. The Carmelites in that convent had agreed to accept her. However, the first obstacle on Therese's vocational journey became clear. The ecclesiastical superior who oversaw the convent decided that it would be best for her to wait until she was 21 to enter. Therese was determined to enter Carmel. After conferring with the local Bishop and getting nowhere, she decided that the matter would have to be brought to the attention of the Holy Father. Therese, along with her father and sister Celene, took a trip to Rome that later would change her life. During an audience with the Pope, at which she was told not to speak, she addressed the Pope and asked him to allow her to enter Carmel. Pope Leo XIII responded, "You will enter if God wills it." Soon thereafter, Therese entered Carmel after having dealt with all the obstacles. There, Thérèse lived a life of humility, simplicity, and childlike trust in God. By word and example, she shared this "little way of spiritual childhood" with the novices in her community.

On 9 June 1895, on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, she offered herself as a sacrificial victim to the merciful Love of God. At this time in her twenty-third year, under the order of her prioress, Thérèse began to write her autobiography, Histoire d'une âme, the History of a Soul. This unique book gives evidence of her deep spirituality. She describes her own prayers, through which she tells us much about herself: “With me prayer is a lifting up of the heart, a look towards Heaven, a cry of gratitude and love uttered equally in sorrow and in joy; in a word, something noble, supernatural, which enlarges my soul and unites it to God… Except for the Divine Office, which in spite of my unworthiness is a daily joy, I have not the courage to look through books for beautiful prayers… I do as a child who has not learned to read, I just tell Our Lord all that I want and He understands.”

On the night between Holy Thursday and Good Friday in 1896, Therese experienced her first hemoptysis (spitting up of blood) from tuberculosis. Over the next 18 months, her condition steadily deteriorated. In the months prior to her death, she prayed for the grace to "spend my heaven doing good on earth" and promised that after her death she would send "a shower of roses" from heaven. Offering her sufferings for the salvation of souls.On September 30, 1897, Thérèse died of tuberculosis. Moments before her death she prayed, looking at the crucifix: "Oh, I love Him! My God I love You!" She was twenty-four years old. Two years after her death, her Autobiography (Story of a Soul) was published. By the time of her canonization in 1925, over a million copies of the French edition had been sold and translations are now available in all the major languages of the world.

The body of Thérèse was exhumed in the cemetery on 6th September 1910, in the presence of the Bishop and about a hundred others. The remains were placed in a lead coffin and transferred to another tomb. A second exhumation took place on 9th 10th of August 1917. On 26th March 1923, the solemn transfer of the coffin from the cemetry to the chapel of the Carmel took place.

Thérèse is beatified by Pius XI on April 29, 1923. She is canonized in Rome by Pius XI on May 17, 1925; 500,000 pilgrims attend. The same Pope proclaimed her Universal Patron of the Missions, alongside Saint Francis Xavier, on 14 December 1927. On October 17, 1997 she was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II.

Most of the statues of Therese and paintings and pictures show her with a bouquet of roses or roses at her feet or a rose in her hand. And it's a sign of her caring and loving for her community and people all over the world but especially that she felt that she was going to continue to love and walk with us and reach out to us after her death. She said: "I will send roses from heaven." And she said, "I intend to spend my entire life in heaven continuing to do good work on earth."

Beatification of Louis and Zélie Martin ()October 19, 2008

On October 19, 2008, World Mission Sunday, Louis Martin and Marie Zelie Guerin, the parents of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, were declared blessed in Lisieux, France, by Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, retired prefect of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints. It was only the second time in history that a married couple has been beatified.

Canonization of Louis and Zélie Martin (October 18, 2015)

The Mass of canonization be celebrated at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, October 18, 2015, in St. Peter's Square.

Is is necessary for the individual pilgrims to have an acces ticket from the Pontifical Household for that Mass.

You can request this free ticket for the canonization by sending an e-mail to You will receive a reply with instructions for picking up your ticket when you arrive in Rome.

You can get a ticket at the General Curia of the Discalced Carmelites at this address:

Women Saints: Doctors of the Church: 

  • Catherine of Siena
  • Teresa of Avila
  • Thérèse of Lisieux
  • Hildegard of Bingen 

Morning Prayer by Saint Thérèse

O my God! I offer Thee all my actions of this day for the intentions and for the glory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
I desire to sanctify every beat of my heart, my every thought, my simplest works, by uniting them to Its infinite merits;
and I wish to make reparation for my sins by casting them into the furnace of Its Merciful Love.
O my God! I ask of Thee for myself and for those whom I hold dear, the grace to fulfill perfectly Thy Holy Will, to accept for love of Thee the joys and sorrows of this passing life, so that we may one day be united together in heaven for all Eternity.

Saint Thérèse Prayer

Say for 9 days

O Little Thérèse of the Child Jesus, please pick for me a rose from the heavenly gardens and send it to me as a message of love.

O Little Flower of Jesus, ask God to grant the favors I now place with confidence in your hands.......

(Mention specific requests)

Saint Thérèse, help me to always believe as you did in God's great love for me, so that I might imitate your "Little Way" each day.

Prayer for Priests by Thérèse

O Jesus, eternal Priest, keep your priests within the shelter of Your Sacred Heart, where none may touch them.
Keep unstained their anointed hands, which daily touch Your Sacred Body.
Keep unsullied their lips, daily purpled with your Precious Blood.
Keep pure and unearthly their hearts, sealed with the sublime mark of the priesthood.
Let Your holy love surround them and shield them from the world's contagion.
Bless their labors with abundant fruit and may the souls to whom they minister be their joy and consolation here and in heaven their beautiful and everlasting crown.

Sanctuary Lisieux (France)


Sainte Thérèse de l'enfant Jésus de la Sainte Face Docteur de l'Eglise