Saint Little Flower
St Therese the Little Flower
'St.Therese the little flower' is referred to by many names.
There are three spellings of her name 'Therese', 'Theresa', and
'Thérèse'. All three are appropriate but the actual
French name is Thérèse'. English does not have the
vowel marks which accompany French have, so the English spelling
is simply "Therese". The more Anglicized version "Theresa"
has recently caused confusion between her and Teresa of Avila.
Both were Carmelite nun so in order to avoid confusion between
the two, many choose to use the spelling most reflective of her
French name, "Therese". The Carmelite nuns (and countless
others) believe Saint Therese the Little Flower responds to all
of her names regardless of how they are spelled.
The reference, St. Therese the Little Flower refers to
a name she called herself. She loved nature and often used imagery
to explain God's presence everywhere. She never thought of herself
as a brilliant rose or a regal lily, but as a small wild flower;
something hidden and simple but never-the-less blooming in God's
She saw herself as any tiny flower in the forest, surviving
and flourishing despite all the hardships of the seasons. She
felt that, because of God's grace, she was stronger than she looked.
St. Therese of the flower was actually born in Alencon, France
but moved to Lisieux, France when she was about eleven years of
age. Born January 2, 1873 to a fairly well-to-do family, the youngest
of nine children little flower Therese is reported to have been
a somewhat spoiled, hot tempered but precocious child until the
age of thirteen when she experienced what she referred to in her
biography as her 'Christmas Conversion'. Because this incident
occurred at Christmas and because the little flower refers to
it as her conversion is why she chose the name 'Theresa of the
Infant Jesus' when she took her Carmelite vows.
There was another incident when she was about seven and very ill.
Many believed she would die. She prayed to a Statue of the Virgin
Mary that was a favorite of her mother's and the statue smiled
on her. Therese's fever subsided and she stayed well for several
years. Replica's of that statue are called 'Our Lady of the Smile."
Saint Therese the little flower entered the Carmelite monastery
in Lisieux France in 1888 at the age of 15. She said her vows
in 1890 and she died of consumption (tuberculosis) on Sept 30
1897 at the age of twenty-four. She was beatified in 1923 and
canonized a saint in 1925. In 1997 she was declared a Doctor of
In the Carmelite tradition she saw the world as God's garden and
each person a different kind of flower which Jesus was delighted
with. Her powerful inspiration or place within the Church are
best explained by her title, "The little flower." Her
message is beautiful, inspiring and simple.
The Mission of the Society of the Little Flower is to promote
devotion to Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, the Carmelite Nun
and Doctor of the Church. The Carmelites are a religious order
of Roman Catholic Priests and Brothers who follow an 800 year
old tradition of spirituality. They are officially
titled, "Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel".
The Carmelites follow Jesus Christ by living the evangelical
vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. They work in twenty-seven
nations, especially in third world countries. In the U.S. the
Carmelite Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary serves in seventeen
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