Saint Thérèse was born in 1873, to a deeply religious Catholic family in Northern France. The future saint was fortunate to survive infancy, as she suffered from Enteritis as a very young baby. Saint Thérèse was a very sickly child, and regularly seriously ill. When her beloved mother died, she increasingly looked to God for support and comfort. From this period she began to have visions of our Lord and the Virgin Mary.
Saint Thérèse was educated in a convent school. She was determined to become a nun, but because she was so young and sickly she faced opposition from various religious authority figures. It was only after a great struggle that she entered a Carmelite convent as a novice at the age of fifteen.
Saint Thérèse entered the Carmelite convent at Lisieux and never left it. She lived much of her life in silence and engaging in menial tasks, such as working in the sewing room, which allowed her time to pray and meditate.
Saint Thérèse was a great and prolific writer. She wrote countless works, including prayers and hymns. Saint Thérèse, at this time, also wrote her great spiritual biography The Story of a Soul.
St Thérèse fell ill in 1896 with tuberculosis, and died after two years of agony. Her steadfastness and bravery in the face of death impressed everyone in the convent and beyond. This is all related in her spiritual autobiography. She died on September 30th, 1897, and was buried in the Lisieux Cemetery in 1897.
After the publication of her autobiography a year after her death, the “Little Flower” was popularly acclaimed as a saint by countless devout Catholics. Many pilgrims visited her grave, and soon there were reports of miracles.
There are two proven miracles credited to the intercession of Saint Thérèse. In one, a nun who prayed to her was cured of a serious ulcer. The other miracle involved a young seminarian who was desperately ill; after he prayed to St Thérèse he was cured.
Today her grave is a major site of pilgrimage around the world, and the “Little Flower of Christ” is still inspiring and guiding Catholics through her great autobiography.
She believed that Christians should make the world a better place:
“Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.”
She also believed that love was essential in our daily lives:
“Without love, deeds, even the most brilliant, count as nothing.”
St. Thérèse believed that our real home was in heaven, and that this life was only a preparation for the next:
“The world's thy ship and not thy home.”
St. Thérèse’s fame grew as more were inspired by her book and life. In 1910, the process of canonization was initiated, and in 1925, Thérèse was canonized. She was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1997. The saint is still guiding and comforting Catholics with her example and writings to this day.