Parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux to Be Canonized Sunday

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by Christine Niles  •  •  October 16, 2015   

First time in history a married couple will be raised to the altar together

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ROME, October 16, 2015 ( - The parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux will be canonized this Sunday. It will be the first time in the history of the Church that a married couple will be canonized together. 

A chance meeting on the Saint-Léonard Bridge in Alençon, France in 1858 brought Bd. Louis and Zelie Martin together. Before that, both had believed they had a calling to the religious life, but their attempts to join religious orders had failed. On the Saint-Léonard Bridge, as she saw Louis for the first time, Zelie interiorly heard the words "This is he whom I have prepared for you." A friendship quickly ensued, which led to engagement, and both married at midnight on July 13 of that year. They spent their first year in continence, but after a priest advised them otherwise, they went on to have nine children, four of whom died young. 

Their daily lives revolved around the sacraments: Mass, Holy Communion, confession, and the exercise of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The Martins were known for their generosity towards the needy, and often gave alms or visited the sick and dying. 

Zelie died from breast cancer in 1877, leaving Louis to raise five children on his own: Marie, Pauline, Léonie, Céline, and Thérèse, their last born, who was only four and a half years old at the time of her mother's death. Louis suffered ill health towards the end of his life, including a stroke that left him nearly paralyzed for the last two years of his life. During his sufferings, he had said to the doctor, "I know why the good God has given me this trial: I have never had any humiliation in my life; I needed one." He passed away in 1894. 

All five daughters went on to become religious, with Thérèse eventually becoming one of the most famous and beloved Discalced Carmelite nuns in the world, whose autobiography Story of a Soul has been read by millions. Pope St. Pius X designated St. Thérèse "the greatest saint of modern times."

Thérèse's parents will be canonized during a 10 a.m. Sunday Mass at St. Peter's Square presided over by Pope Francis.


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