Saint Thérèse: The Story of a Soul

Thérèse of Lisieux, born on January 2, 1873, led a quiet life on earth, but brings glory to God from heaven.

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St. Thérèse

Thérèse of Lisieux, born Marie Francoise Thérèse Martin on January 2, 1873, was prone to temper tantrums as a child. However, on Christmas Eve when she was 14, she experienced a spiritual conversion. On that night, after overhearing her father suggest she was becoming too old to receive gifts, she did not respond with her typical tearful fit.

Thérèse believed that Jesus entered her heart at that time, imbuing her with a sense of charity.

At 15, Thérèse entered a French Carmelite order. During her years at the convent in Lisieux, France, Thérèse was asked by her superiors to write memoirs of her childhood and time as a cloistered nun.

Those writings along with letters and poems were posthumously collected and comprise her autobiography, The Story of a Soul.  Thérèse’s emphasis on making small daily sacrifices to God, rather than performing large dramatic deeds, appealed to many and the book became a classic spiritual text.

Thérèse loved nature, and often used flowers as metaphors in her writing to help explain God’s love for the world. “The splendor of the rose or the whiteness of the lily does not take away the perfume of the little violet,” Thérèse wrote, explaining how every person has a special place in God’s garden.    

Sadly, she succumbed to tuberculosis at age 24. As she lay dying in the convent infirmary, she could see roses blossoming outside her window. She told those at her bedside that after her death she would “let fall a shower of roses,” and encourage love for God on earth while she was in heaven.  

At her canonization in 1925, Pope Pius XI called her a “flower that blossomed within the walls of Carmel.”

Roses are said to occasionally appear to reassure those in need that God has heard their prayers. Thérèse, who became known as “The Little Flower,” is also designated as the patron saint of florists.

Read an account of how St. Thérèse inspired a stronger faith in a young girl.

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