St Thérèse Of The Child Jesus and The Holy Face
Doctor of the Church

Adapted from The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, ed. E. Livingstone, (Oxford, 1977).

CARMELITE nun, the youngest daughter of Louis Martin, a devout watchmaker of Alençon, she was drawn towards religious perfection at an early age. In spite of opposition, she obtained permission to enter the Carmelite convent at Lisieux at the age of 15. She was professed in 1890, and was assistant novice-mistress from 1893. In 1896 she was prevented from joining the Carmelites in  China by the first of a series of haemorrhages. She died of tuberculosis on 30 Sept. 1897.

At the command of her superiors she wrote her autobiography, L’Histoire d’une âme. The spread of her fame was largely due to the decision of the prioress to circulate a revised version of this, together with details of her death, to all Carmelite houses. Miracles of healing and prophecy were soon reported in sufficient number to realize her promise, ‘Je vais faire tomber un torrent de roses.’ By 1907 an account of them was appended to her biography. Proceedings for her beatification were initiated in the court of Bayeux in 1910 and moved to Rome in 1918, her cause being exempted from the 50 years’ delay imposed by Canon Law. On 25 Apr. 1923 her beatification was proclaimed by  Pius XI and her bones solemnly translated to the convent. On 17 May 1925 she was canonized under the name of ‘St Teresa of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face’ (her name in religion). In 1997 she was declared a ‘ Doctor of the Church’. Feast day, 1 (formerly 3) Oct.

Owing to the continued increase in the number of pilgrims of all nations, it was decided in 1926 to erect a large basilica at Lisieux. The popularity of her cult was largely due to the appeal to the ordinary people of her age, to whom her life showed that the attainment of sanctity was practicable, not only through extreme mortification, but through continual renunciation in small matters. She is popularly known in England as ‘The Little Flower’ from the subtitle of her autobiography. In 1927 Pius XI named her patroness of foreign missions (along with St  Francis Xavier). In 1947 she was joined with  Joan of Arc as patroness of France.

Crit. edn. of her works (Édition du Centenaire) by D. Delalande, OCD, and others, pub. Paris from 1971; all the texts had been pub. by 1989, but the later vols. appeared as separate items. Eng. tr., Washington, DC, 1975 ff. The first reliable text of her autobiog. was the facsimile of it and other related documents, + 3 vols. of Introd., Notes et Tables, Table des Citations, pub. Lisieux, 1956. Eng. tr. of autobiog., based on the facsimile, by R. [A.]  Knox, London, 1958. Letters ed. A. Combes, Lisieux, 1948; Eng. tr., New York, 1948. Pluies des roses (6 vols., Lisieux, 1913–25). Collection of photographs, with comm. by François de Sainte-Marie, OCD, Le Visage de Thérèse de Lisieux (2 vols., 1961; Eng. tr. as The Photo Album of St Thérèse of Lisieux, 1962). Procès de Béatification et Canonisation: 1: Procès Informatif Ordinaire [1910–11]; 2: Procès Apostolique [1915–17] (Bibliotheca Carmelitica, Series 1, Textus, 2–3; Rome, 1973–6); partial Eng. tr. of the former by C. O’Mahony, OCD (Dublin, 1975). A. P. Laveille, Sainte Thérèse de l’Enfant Jésus (1873–1897), d’après les documents officiels du Carmel de Lisieux (1925; Eng. tr., 1928). The large number of other Lives incl. studies by H. Petitot, OP (1922; Eng. tr., 1927), H. U. von  Balthasar (Olten, 1950; Eng. tr., 1953), I. F. Görres (Freiburg, 1958; Eng. tr., 1959), P. Descouvement (Paris, 1962), J. Norbury (London, 1966), G. Gaucher [OCD] (Paris, 1982), J. Guitton (Paris, 1995; Eng. tr., 1997), and J. Chalon (ibid., 1996; Eng. tr., 1997). A. Combes, Introduction à la spiritualité de sainte Thérèse de l’Enfant Jésus (1946; enlarged edn., 1948; Eng. tr. of 1946 edn., 1950); id., Sainte Thérèse de Lisieux et sa mission (1954; Eng. tr., 1956); J.-F. Six, La Véritable Enfance de Thérèse de Lisieux (1972); id., Thérèse de Lisieux au Carmel (1973); B. Bro, OP, La Gloire et le Mendiant (1974; Eng. tr., 1979). P. Descouvement in Dict. Sp. 15 (1991), cols. 576–611, s.v. ‘Thérèse de l’Enfant Jésus’



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