Although St Therese, who became a Carmelite nun at the tender age of 15 in Lisieux, is one of the most famous Saints of the Church, very little was known of her prior to her death in 1897 at the age of 24.
It was only a number of years after her death that the true beauty of her life came to light, through her memoirs which her prioress Mother Agnes of Jesus had asked her to write some two years prior to her death. With the publication of these memoirs came a “storm of glory” that swept the world producing miracles, conversions, cures and apparitions. It was a time of great joy and resulted in the Pope suspending the then 50 year rule for canonisations and declaring her a saint in 1925.
St Therese wanted to be a saint, following in the footsteps of her namesake St Teresa of Avila. A Jesuit priest, whom Therese spoke to while he was visiting her convent, thought he could sense a little misplaced pride in Therese’s desire to become a saint and challenged her on this. But the bold Therese simply responded by saying “Why Father? Since our Lord has said, ‘Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect’.”
Therese is also famous for her ‘Little Way’, a concept of taking God at His Word and letting His Love for us wash away our sins and imperfections. When a priest once told her off for falling asleep during prayer, claiming it was for want of fervour and fidelity, she replied: “I am not desolate. I remember that little children are just as pleasing to their parents when they are asleep as when they are awake.”
St Therese, a true blessing to the world and a true example of complete and unconditional devotion to God.