Saint Therese of Lisieux
Also known as Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus and Saint Theresa the Little Flower, Saint Therese’s story offers proof that one need not live a dramatic existence for holiness to be recognized. Cloistered in a Carmelite convent twelve miles from her home, her life was short and she died at the age of twenty four. Pope Pius X called Theresa of Lisieux “The greatest saint of modern times.” Novenas of Saint Therese of Lisieux are particularly effective for dissolving bitter feelings of resentment. Her belief in God was so ardent and loving that a childlike grace and joy extend to all who invoke her. She offers the simplicity, clarity, and innate wisdom of a kindly child. Saint Therese of Lisieux is prayed to by millions every day and her statue stands in thousands of churches. How could this unknown middle-class girl attain such international renown in so short a period of time?
The youngest of five daughters, Therese Martin was born at Alencon in France. Her mother died when she was four and her father moved the family to Lisieux, where his late wife’s brother and sister-in-law lived. She was a beautiful and pampered child. The household was an extremely devout one, and when her tow older sisters entered the local Carmelite convent, Therese yearned to follow them.
Upon entering the Carmelite order at the unusually young age of fifteen, Therese Martin declared her intention: “I want to be a saint.” Her life in the order, devoted to prayer, was unremarkable, and she spent her days doing low-level chores and following the regimen of prayer. It was her dream to go to Hanoi as a missionary nun, but this desire was never realized. In 1895 she was instructed to write the story of her childhood by her mother superior. This is a common practice in cloistered convents and monasteries. A year later she became seriously ill with tuberculosis and was bedridden. She finished her book The Story of a Soul, a few weeks before her death. This account of her life presents a very human, moody, middle-class girl with an ardent love for God. Writing with the knowledge that her own death is imminent, she promises that she “wants to spend her time in heaven doing good upon the earth.”
Published in 1898 with a first printing of two thousand copies, The Story of a Soul became a spectacular success and is one of the best-selling books of the twentieth century, selling millions of copies in twenty eight languages. After the book’s publication, countless miracles were attributed to the heavenly intercession of Therese, and a devout following of this unknown nun sprang up in all parts of the world. Because of this international influence, Saint Therese of Lisieux is patroness of missionaries.
Her book also presented her cultivating a childlike, loving spirituality, thus making her very sympathetic to the needs and concerns of children. Roses are her symbol and she is always depicted with them. In her book she promises to “let fall from heaven a shower of roses”. A heavenly sign that novena requests to Saint Therese will be granted is the sight or smell of roses. Saint Therese of Lisiuex was canonized on May 17, 1925, and declared to be the second patron saint of France.
Feast Day: October 1
Patron Saint of: France, Missionaries, Florists, Concerns of Children
Novena to Saint Therese
Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, during your short life on earth
You became a mirror of angelic purity, of love strong as death,
and of wholehearted abandonment to God. Now that you rejoice
in the reward of your virtue, turn your eyes of mercy upon me,
for I put all my confidence in you.
Obtain for me the need to keep my heart and mind pure and clean
Like your own, and to abhor sincerely whatever may in any way
Tarnish the glorious virtue of purity, so dear to our Lord.
Most gracious Little Rose Queen, remember your promises of
Never letting any request made to you go unanswered, of sending
Down a shower of roses, and of coming down to earth to do good.
Full of confidence in your power with the Sacred Heart, I implore
Your intercession on my behalf and beg of you to obtain the request
I so ardently desire.
(Mention your request.)
Holy little Therese, remember your promise to do good upon the
Earth and shower down your roses on those who invoke you.
Obtain for me from God the graces I hope for from his infinite
Goodness. Let me feel the powers of your prayers in every need.
Give me consolation in all the bitterness of this life, and
especially at the hour of death, that I may be worthy to share
eternal happiness with you in heaven. Amen.
Say this novena nine times in a row for nine days in a row.
(Excerpted from the book: “Novena the Power of Prayer”.)