Shrines of Saint Therese
There are many shrines to honor St Therese of the Child Jesus
and the Holy Face all over the world. In the United States,
the shrine of St. Therese Juneau Alaska as been in existence
for over sixty years. The Shrine of St.Therese in Pueblo, Colorado
was built shortly after World War II. The Shrine of St.
Therese Fresno California boasts of being the first shrine
in her honor in the world.
The National Shrine of St. Therese Darien, Illinois sits
on a 50-acre estate owned and operated by the Carmelites. The
statue at the entrance remains from the fire of 1976 which destroyed
the original shrine at St. Clara's church in Chicago. The national
shrine is home to the most wonderful collection of relics, personal
effect and memorabilia of Therese located outside of France. This
memorabilia includes drawings of the young Therese, her toys,
prayer book and a chair taken from her cell in the convent at
In Canada, the Carmelites came to Niagara Falls in 1875
to administer the Shrine of Our Lady of Peace. The Shrine of Saint
Therese as well as the Mount Carmel Monastery and the Mount Carmel
Spiritual Centre serve as a place of retreat and renewal for the
needs of the people of the Niagara area.
In France, the area commonly referred to as Normandy, is
also where St. Therese lived her entire life and was buried. Therese
entered Carmel on April 9, 1888 at the age of fifteen, she remained
there until she died at the age of twenty-four on September 30,
The public Chapel of Carmel adjoins the Monastery where Thérèse
had difficulty in obtaining permission to enter at the age of
fifteen. Her sisters, Pauline and Marie, entered before her and
on the death of their father, in 1894, another sister, Celine,
joined them. Therese's cousin, Marie Guerin, also entered the
Carmel of Lisieux. In all, there were twenty-six nuns including
five lay sisters and two externs at Carmel when Thérèse
entered Today there are no longer lay sisters, but externs continue
to play an important part.
Saint Therese's Shrine is to the right as you enter the Carmelite
chapel. Her statue contains some relics and the golden rose in
her hand was given by Pope Pius XI. The coat of arms at the top
of the casket is a copy of one drawn by Therese herself. The initials
on the above left are 'JHS', the name of Jesus in Greek. On the
above right the initials, 'MFT' are Therese's three baptismal
names, Marie Francoise Therese. The left side contains her titles,
The Child Jesus and the Holy Face. The harp is a personal representation
of Therese, who sang her love for Jesus. On the Right is 'the
little flower' receiving rays of the sun.
High above the Shrine stands the statue of Our Lady of the Smile
the actually statue which smiled on Therese on May 13, 1883. It
is a copy of Bouchardon's 'Madonna'.
Each year when Therese's feast is celebrated her relics are taken
from the vault and placed in the Brazilian Reliquary which is
used in a candlelight procession through the streets of Lisieux
to the Basilica. After the mass they relics are returned by way
of the Cathedral.
Approaching the shrine there are small altars on each side which
were given by Canon T.N, Taylor a Scotsman and one of the early
translator of The Story of a Soul.
The nun's choir to the right of the main altar is marked with
a cross in the stall where St. Therese sat. On the sanctuary in
front of the nun's choir are the tombs of two of the founders
of Carmel, Father Pierre-Nicolas Sauvage (1794-1853) and Mother
Genevieve of St. Teresa (1805-1891).
The side aisle, added to since St. Therese's days, holds the statues
of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross.
Outside the chapel to the left of the main door is a plaque indicating
that St. Therese's three Carmelite Sisters are laid to rest in
the vaults of Carmel beneath the shrine chapel. They are Marie
(Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart) died in 1940, Pauline (Mother
Agnes of Jesus) in 1951 and Celine (Sister Genevieve of the Holy
Face) in 1959.
The house Les Buissonnets is where Therese lived with her family
before entering the Carmelite Monastery. There are also the Cathedral
of Saint Pierre where Therese and her family attended Mass and
the Benedictine Convent where Therese attended school from October
1881 until March of 1886.
The Basilica at Lisieux was built in order to accommodate the
large crowds of pilgrims visiting the city. Work began in 1929
and it was finally consecrated on July 11, 1954. The structure
dominates the town.
The Basilica, Les Buissonets and the Cathedral were miraculously
preserved during World War II. For a time it was used by the occupying
German forces and was later used as refuge by two of Therese's
sisters, Pauline and Celine and the entire Carmelite Community
as shelter during the 1944 air raids.
The town cemetery was the original burial place of St.Therese
and contains the graves of members of her family and others who
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