St. Therese of Lisieux was born in France on January 2, 1873 to Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin. She was the youngest of nine children, four of whom died in infancy. At the age of four, she faced great sadness when her beloved mother passed away. When she was fifteen, she followed in the footsteps of her older sisters Pauline and Marie and joined the Carmelite Monastery in Lisieux. St. Therese loved God completely, and, above all else, desired for others to love God too. Known for her “little way,” she once wrote: “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.”
In the 1880s, a notorious criminal by the name of Henri Pranzini had been sentenced to death after murdering two women and a young girl. St. Therese read about this sentencing in the newspaper, and also learned that he was unrepentant, bitter, and angry. Upon hearing this when she was only fourteen years old, Therese committed herself to praying tirelessly and offering sacrifices up for Pranzini’s conversion. When she read the news article detailing his execution, she realized her prayer had been answered: “Pranzini had not gone to confession. He had mounted the scaffold and was preparing to place his head in the formidable opening, when suddenly seized by an inspiration, he turned, took hold of the crucifix the priest was holding out to him and kissed the sacred wounds three times! Then his soul went to receive the merciful sentence of Him who declares that in heaven there will be more joy over one sinner who does penance than over ninety-nine just who have no need of repentance!”
St. Therese truly strove towards union with God with both prayer and simplicity. While she is the patron saint of missionaries, she never left the walls of her convent. However, St. Therese proved that you did not have to travel far and wide to lead others towards Christ. While some of us feel as though we are not capable of doing “spectacular acts” for God and others, we must never underestimate the power of a simple prayer or the significance of doing “little things with great love,” just like St. Therese of Lisieux.
By: Adriana Shubeck