VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis is expected to canonize Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin, the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux, during the world Synod of Bishops on the family in October.
Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, leading a conference Feb. 27 on the role of saints in the life of the church, announced that “thanks be to God, in October two spouses, parents of Saint Therese of Lisieux, will be canonized.”
Blessed Louis and Marie Zelie Guerin Martin were married in 1858. The couple had nine children, but four of them died in infancy. The five who survived — including St. Therese — all entered religious life. Zelie Martin died of cancer in 1877, at the age of 45; her husband died when he was 70 in 1894.
The couple was beatified in 2008. They are believed to be the first parents of a saint to be beatified, highlighting the important role parents play in their children’s human and spiritual upbringing.
Following normal Vatican procedures, before their canonization the pope would have to recognize a miracle that occurred after prayers for the couple’s intercession before God. The decree is expected to be signed before Easter.
The next step would be for the pope to consult with the church’s cardinals and hold a consistory with cardinals present in Rome to announce the decision to proceed with the ceremony during the world Synod of Bishops on the family Oct. 4-25. A Vatican official said that meeting probably would take place in June.
According to the Lisieux shrine’s website, a miracle being studied for the couple’s canonization involves a little girl in the Diocese of Valencia, Spain. Born prematurely and with multiple life-threatening complications, Carmen suffered a major brain hemorrhage, which could have caused irreversible damage. Her parents prayed for the couple’s intercession. The little girl survived and is healthy.
Pope Francis has a special devotion to St. Therese. The pope used to keep a photo of the 19th-century French Carmelite nun on his library shelf when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires. He has said that when he has a problem, he asks St. Therese “not to solve it, but to take it in her hands and help me accept it.” As a sign that she’s heard his request, he said, “I almost always receive a white rose.”
Before opening the October 2014 meeting of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family, Pope Francis venerated the relics of St. Therese, her parents and another couple, Blessed Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi; the relics were brought to Rome specifically for prayers during the bishops’ discussions about family life.
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Please visit the Carmelite convent of Liseaux website to read the biographies of these two most precious people as well as St. Therese and her sisters’ biagraphies.
Zelie had great trust and devotion to Our Lady. She prayed a novena to her under the title of The Immaculate Conception for her guidance in what to do with her life. The novena ended on the feast of The Immaculate Conception and Zelie heard a voice tell her what to do. That voice spoke again to her another day as she was crossing a bridge right before she met her future husband for the first time. It will bring tears to your eyes and admiration to your heart when you read what was said to her. I won’t spoil it by revealing it now, I will leave it for you to discover it there. Our Immaculate Mother is absolutely beautiful in all that she does!!!
As a discalced carmelite (secular) I am ecstatic to hear such good news. Now, Therese’s sister Leonie is up for beatification….can’t wait to read her story. Four in one family is unbelievable. Leonie is the sister that followed more closely Therese’s little way. Praise be Jesus Christ!
Dear Sue, Oh, yes, Leonie is an inspiration! For photos, articles, and biographies of her, please visit http;//leoniemartin.org
Francis has trivialized the canonization process.
Thanks be to God. We need their intercessions as the the whole world goes through a family value crises.
Their life and great faith can be followed by many young family today.
Thank you for posting this marvelous news! For more about the lives and spirituality of Louis and Zelie Martin, the history of their cause, and the details of the healing of little Carmen, please visit “Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin, the Parents of St. Therese of Lisieux” at http://louisandzeliemartin.org
And please visit http://www.thereseoflisieux.org
Some saints can be understood and remembered for a single act (martyrdom) or an overarching mission (e.g., founding a religious order). The Martins challenge our understanding of sainthood because their saintliness was, like their daughter’s, one of faithfulness in the small things and of the primacy that love and charity must have in our lives if we are to be followers of Christ.
When one reads the family correspondence, one understands their travails: losing four out of nine children, dealing with a terminal breast cancer diagnosis, accepting the loss of independence to dementia. Yet, these are situations that have beset saints as well as sinners from the dawn of time.
What is remarkable about the Martins is that they always sought meaning for their sufferings and joys through their relationship with Jesus Christ. When Zelie was dying of breast cancer, she had to do what was probably the hardest thing in the world for this very focused woman: give up control of her lace business, her household, and the education of five daughters to an uncertain future. Her pilgrimage to Lourdes asking for a cure was an unmitigated disaster, humanly speaking. Her death from an excruciating painful disease would seem like a mockery to one so faithful and trusting. But, like Christ on the cross, she felt forsaken but never despaired.
Louis also had to give up every bit of what he enjoyed most: the joys of family life and the simple pleasures of fishing. He was paralyzed by a series of strokes and lost his mind to a dementia that erased the boundary between reality and paranoid hallucinations. For his safety and that of others, he was placed in a mental institution for three years, a most humiliating place for such an admired patriarch. Yet, there, his sweetness and faith were an inspiration to the other “inmates”. But he was no insipid saint: when a nun-caretaker complimented him that his good example made him an “apostle” to the other inmates, he responded that he was glad to be an apostle but would have preferred to be one elsewhere.
Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin are not to be canonized for having been the parents “of the greatest saint of modern times.” Rather, they are to be recognized as saints because they lived the way of “confidence and love” that their daughter would one day represent.
So, Zelie, example to working parents and breast cancer patients, pray for us.
Louis, example to those with dementia and those who care for them, pray for us.
Fully support it, St Therese is my Patron, I was born on Her 75 birthday.