Therese of Lisieux Patron Saint, Doctor of the Church life
was filled with illness and tragedy. Her mother died when
she was four. When she was seven she suffered a serious illness
diagnosed to be everything from a nervous breakdown to a kidney
infection. She suffered a death threatening high fever which left
her with unexplainable hallucinations. She explains the experience
this way, "I was absolutely terrified by everything: my bed
seemed to be surrounded by frightful precipices; some nails in
the wall of the room took on the appearance of big black charred
fingers, making me cry out in fear. One day, while Papa was looking
at me and smiling, the hat in his hand was suddenly transformed
into some indescribable dreadful shape and I showed such great
fear that poor Papa left the room sobbing." (Excerpt: Story
of a Soul).
On May 13, 1883, Therese turned her head to a statue of the Virgin
near her bed, and prayed for a cure. "Suddenly" Therese
writes, "....Mary's face radiated kindness and love."
Therese was cured. The statue has since been called "Our
Lady of the Smile".
St. Therese Patron led a simple ordinary cloistered life.
She became a saint because of the wholehearted way she responded
to God's love and lived the grace he bestowed upon her.
While the Church recognizes the holiness and sanctity of may people
the official canonization of a soul is a long process. Specific
signs must be accepted by the Church before anyone can be declared
For Therese patron saint of florists, aviators and missions,
the process was relatively swift. She was so popular among those
who knew her, they believed her a saint long before the official
declaration. A person is declared 'venerable' when evidence of
extraordinary holiness is proven. Two miracles must be proven
before the next step Beatification can take place.
In 1923 the Church approved two spontaneous cures unexplained
by medical treatment of people who had prayed for intercession
from St. Therese. Sister Louise of St. Germain was cured of stomach
ulcers and Charles Anne, a twenty-three year old seminarian was
cured of pulmonary tuberculosis. Because of these two miracles
St. Therese of Lisieux Patron was beatified on April 29th, 1923
by Pope Pius XI. In the Jubilee year 1925 she was named heavenly
patroness of foreign missions along with St. Francis Xavier. Therese
of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face was named one of the patron
saints of the missions because of her special love of the missions,
and the prayers and letters she gave in support of missionaries.
The Society of the Little Flower reminds those of us "who
feel we can do nothing, that it is the little things that keep
God's kingdom growing".
In 1925 two more cures, Gabrielle Trimusi from Parma, Italy who
suffered arthritis of the knee and tubercular lesions on his vertebrae
and Maria Pellemans of Schaerbeck, Belgium who suffered pulmonary
tuberculosis were cured from all signs of illness and disease.
St Therese was canonized on May 17, 1925. She would have been
52 years old. She had died on Sept. 30, 1897 of tuberculosis.
In her quest for sanctity, St. Theresa realized it is not necessary
to accomplish great deeds or heroic acts in or to obtain holiness
to express love for God. She wrote, "Love proves itself by
deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden
me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers
and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and
word, and the doing of the least actions for love." (i.e.
The Story of a Soul)
St. Therese called this unique and simple approach to love
and spirituality her 'little way". The simplicity in
her approach to God has sometimes caused others to accuse her
of overly sentimental or childish spirituality. Others say her
approach left spiritual openness approach spiritual approach open
to anyone, regardless of their level or sophistication or education.
She explained it this way, "Sometimes, when I read spiritual
treatises, in which perfection is shown with a thousand obstacles
in the way and a host of illusions round about it, my poor little
mind soon grows weary, I close the learned book, which leaves
my head splitting and my heart parched, and I take the Holy Scriptures.
Then all seems luminous, a single word opens up infinite horizons
to my soul, perfection seems easy; I see that it is enough to
realize one's nothingness, and give oneself wholly, like a child,
into the arms of the good God. Leaving to great souls, great minds,
the fine books I cannot understand, I rejoice to be little because
'only children, and those who are like them, will be admitted
to the heavenly banquet'. (i.e. The Story of a Soul).
"The Story of a Soul' is St. Therese's autobiography
published after her death in 1898. From the original two-thousand
copies the book remains a beloved best seller throughout the world.
She also wrote two volumes of letters, some poems, prayers and
On August 24 1997 Pope John Paul II announced at the World Youth
Day in France that Saint Therese Lisieux patron of the church
was to be named a Doctor of the Church.
There are only thirty-three Doctors of the Church. Not only is
St. Therese the youngest doctor she was the third woman to be
proclaimed Doctor, together with St. Catherine of Sienna and St.
Therese of Avila.
Doctor of the Church is a distinction beyond being a canonized
saint, the first requirement. The other three are: Outstanding
holiness and sanctity, eminent learning and writings and a proclamation
by the Pope.
In Vatican City, October 19, 1997 during a solemn Eucharistic
celebration in St. Peter's Square in the presence of tens of thousands
of people, the Pope proclaimed St. Therese of the Child Jesus
and the Holy Face Doctor of the Church. In his homily in Italian
and French, John Paul II recalled that the young Discalced Carmelite
"was not able to attend a university nor frequent organized
studies. She died young: and yet today she will be honored as
Doctor of the Church, an eminent recognition which raises her
in the consideration of the entire Christian community well beyond
what an 'academic title' could have done."
"Among the Doctors of the Church," he added, "Therese
of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face is the youngest, but her
spiritual path is so mature and ardent, the intuitions of faith
present in her writings are so vast and profound, as to have earned
her a place among the great masters of the spirit."
Saint Therese is also the patron saint of Russia.
Therese of Lisieux Patron Saint of:
" Patron Saint of African missions
" Patron Saint of against bodily ills
" Patron Saint of against illness
" Patron Saint of against sickness
" Patron Saint of AIDS patients
" Patron Saint of air crews
" Patron Saint of aircraft pilots
" Patron Saint of Anchorage, Alaska, archdiocese of
" Patron Saint of Australia
" Patron Saint of aviators
" Patron Saint of Belgian air crews
" Patron Saint of black missions
" Patron Saint of Cheyenne, Wyoming, diocese of
" Patron Saint of Fairbanks, Alaska, diocese of
" Patron Saint of florists
" Patron Saint of flower growers
" Patron Saint of foreign missions (1927)
" Patron Saint of France (1944 by Venerable Pope Pius
" Patron Saint of Fresno, California, diocese of
" Patron Saint of Juneau, Alaska, diocese of
" Patron Saint of Kisumu, Kenya, diocese of
" Patron Saint of loss of parents
" Patron Saint of missionaries
" Patron Saint of parish missions
" Patron Saint of Pueblo, Colorado, diocese of
" Patron Saint of restoration of religious freedom in
" Patron Saint of Russia
" Patron Saint of sick people
" Patron Saint of Spanish air crews
" Patron Saint of tuberculosis
" Patron Saint of Witbank, South Africa, diocese of
" Patron Saint of World Youth Day
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