“O Jesus, I know well that You do not look so much at the greatness of my actions, as at the love with which I do them. It is true I am not always faithful, but I shall not lose courage. I desire to make use of every opportunity to please You.”
St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face (also known as The Little Flower) was born Marie-Francois Therese Martin on January 2, 1873 in Alencon, France. Raised in a virtuous and loving environment by Louis and Zelie Martin, Therese showed great devotion at a very early age. She had 4 sisters; one became a Visitation sister, and the other three entered the Carmel where she would also live.
Therese was four years old when her mother died, and the period following was one of great suffering for her; she became extremely sensitive and painfully shy. At the age of ten, Therese became mysteriously ill, but she was miraculously cured shortly thereafter by the Blessed Mother. At the age of 14, Therese experienced what she called her "conversion" and was freed of her sensitiveness, thereby able to grow closer to God with no consideration for self. At the young age of fifteen, Therese entered the Carmelite cloister in Lisieux, France. She became mistress of novices at the age of 20. Within the Carmel Therese grew in love and sanctity, perfecting her "Little Way" of consecrating to God everything she did, no matter how trivial.
In obedience to her superior, Therese composed her autobiography, now known as Story of a Soul, perhaps the most beloved spiritual work of the Church, after the Bible. At the age of 22, Therese contracted tuberculosis. She died on September 30, 1897 at the age of 24. She was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1925. Therese is referred to as the greatest saint of modern times. She is the patroness of the Missions. Her feast day is Oct. 1.