St. Thérèse of Lisieux
Feast Day: October 1st
The youngest daughter of a watchmaker, Thérèse wrote that her earliest childhood memories were filled with “smiles and tender caresses.” However, when she was only four years old her mother passed away, and then her eldest sister who had acted as a second mother to her, left to join the local Carmel when Thérèse was only nine. Emotionally devastated, for years afterward Thérèse was prone to sudden bursts of weeping, regression, and hypersensitivity. Raised in a very devout family, she finally attributed the spiritual healing to her “conversion” experience after her Christmas Communion when she was 13 years old. With her father’s blessing she attempted to enter the convent a year later, but was refused by the local bishop due to her age. Determined, she took a pilgrimage to Rome with her father and asked Pope Leo XIII to grant her entry. Despite being impressed the pope refused, and Thérèse wrote to her sister that she “felt as if I had been crushed to powder” although maintained faith in her calling to serve. A few months later the bishop relented, and she entered the Carmel to follow her “little way” to perfection. Thérèse believed that everyone was called to perfection through God’s love, and that despite being “little” souls, everyone could obtain it. Due to her deep focus on Christ and daily liturgy, some now view her as a forerunner for modern saints. She found that reading the holy scripture refreshed her heart and mind, and she realized that “it is sufficient to acknowledge one’s nothingness and to abandon oneself like a child to God’s arms.” In a letter of congratulations to a cousin who was married, Thérèse wrote, “We all take a different road but each one leads to the same goal. You and I must have a single aim: to grown in holiness while following the way that God in his goodness has laid down for us.” She died of tuberculosis in 1897, only 24 years old, and considered her suffering sharing in the agony of Christ.