Pope Francis is reportedly particularly devoted to the 19th century French Carmelite nun, fondly known as "The Little Flower", who died at the age of 24 in 1897 and was later declared a doctor of the church.
Pope Francis has said that he carries a copy of one of the saint’s books in his black travelling bag and turns to her for help and guidance.
The Martins were canonised on Sunday as the final week of the pope's bishops meeting on families was to begin. One of the aims of the bishops' synod is to provide Catholic families with role models, emphasising those who took care to educate their children in the Catholic faith.
In March of this year the pope recognised a miracle attributed to the Martins. A Spanish baby born prematurely in 2008 was fighting for her life when her deeply religious family began praying to the parents of Saint Thérèse. Baby Carmen eventually recovered and was released from hospital on January 2, 2009, which is Saint Thérèse's birthday.
The Vatican recognised another miracle when similar prayers from the family of a sick Italian child named Pietro Schiliro were allegedly answered when he made a full recovery.
Both Pietro,12, and Carmen, now 7, were present at the canonisation ceremony.
Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, has described the Martin couple as “an extraordinary witness of conjugal and family spirituality”.
Known for living an exemplary life of prayer, fasting and charity, the Martins frequently visited the elderly and invited poor people to dine with them in their home.
Louis Martin and Zélie Guerin married in 1858, just three months after they met. They lived in celibacy for nearly a year but went on to have nine children, only five of whom survived. All five became nuns, including the youngest, Thérèse, at the age of 15. (Read more.)
From The National Catholic Register:
Before her death in 1897, in her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, wrote, “God gave me a father and mother more worthy of heaven than of earth.” Her prophetic words will be fully realized this week, when her parents, Louis and Zélie Martin, are canonized on Oct. 18.The Holy Father's Homily.
Another sign of God’s extraordinary grace at work within an ordinary family is that the cause for the canonization of St. Thérèse’s sister, Leonie Martin, has now begun.
For 30 years, Maureen O’Riordan, a resident of Philadelphia, has studied and prayed over their writings, speaking at conferences and retreats, as she follows what she describes as her mission of making the Martin family better known; she has three websites dedicated to the Martin family (LouisandZelieMartin.org; ThereseofLisieux.org; LeonieMartin.org).
“The essence of their spirituality,” she said, “is that they accepted their own powerlessness, that God might be all-powerful in their lives.”
The Martins were married in Alencon, France, in 1858. From the beginning, their daily lives were filled with responsibilities as parents, spouses, caregivers, business owners, landlords and employers. They celebrated the births of their nine children, but suffered as they faced the loss of four of them — three in infancy and 5-year-old Helene during the Franco-Prussian War.
During those terrifying months, the Martins were forced to quarter nine German soldiers in a basement area of their home. One afternoon, while sitting and rocking Helene upstairs, Zélie watched her mildly-ill little one look up, whisper that she would soon be well — and then close her eyes and die. Shocked, Zélie later described the moment in a letter, saying, “I didn’t expect such a sudden end, nor did my husband. When he came home and saw his poor little daughter dead, he began to sob, crying, ‘My little Helene! My little Helene!’ Then, together, we offered her to God.”
Inspired by their faith, Carmelite Father James Geoghegan said that experiencing challenges such as the death of children, breast cancer (Zélie), mental illness (Louis) and elderly care make the Martins “very relatable.”
Zélie worried, he said, and Louis tried to reassure her. Once, while away on business, he wrote, pleading, “Look, I’ve been telling you to take it easy. ... We’ll work hard, but God will take care of the rest.” (Read more.)
Here is a report on a miracle which occurred through the Martins' intercession.
Fr. Hunwicke discusses the canonization Mass. Share