Wednesday, September 22, 2021

A Visual Exploration of St. Therese's Life and World


St. Thérèse's Feast Day is on October 1st.

Much has been written about St. Thérèse over the years and with good reason. She is a much-loved saint whose “Little Way” of making small sacrifices and trusting in God’s love the way a child trusts in a parent is a spiritual roadmap to heaven that both young and old can follow. For this reason, she was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II on October 19, 1997. If you’ve never read her autobiography, Story of a Soul, I encourage you to get a copy as soon as possible. After you have read that, or if you already have a devotion to St. Thérèse, you will greatly appreciate a new work by Fr. Didier-Marie Golay, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: Living on Love


Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: Living on Love is a coffee-table style book, filled with information and beautiful photographs of St. Thérèse’s family (many taken by her sister Celine), the sisters she was in the Carmelite monastery with, artwork she created, and places she lived and visited. Fr. Golay discusses various chapters of St. Thérèse’s life, from her childhood in Alençon, growing up under the care of her saintly parents Louis and Zélie Martin and with her four older sisters; to their move to Lisieux after her mother’s death when St. Thérèse was only four years old; her healing from the smile of the Virgin; her desire to enter the Carmelite monastery at a young age and her pilgrimage to ask the pope for permission; her time in Carmel; her final illness; as well as the miracles wrought after her death and the story of how she became known around the world as a model of holiness. There are also many sidebars featuring interesting information about places she lived and visited, important people in her life, poetry she wrote, and items that were important to her. There is also a helpful Chronological Table at the back of the book providing a timeline for what was happening in the world, the Church, Thérèse’s family, and the culture from 1829 – 1997.


While the text is interesting and informative, the true beauty and value of this book lies in the images and photos. It is a delight to get this intimate glimpse into St. Thérèse’s family, convent, and world. So often we think of saints, especially the great saints, apart from their humanity. We think of them in their heavenly glory, forgetting that they once walked the earth like us and experienced what we experience. In these pages, we see Thérèse as a young child with her parents and sisters, her First Communion notebook where she wrote down the resolutions she wished to keep, her community of sisters at Carmel, her joy at painting and writing poetry and plays, her suffering as she was dying, and her great faith that she would spend her heaven doing good on earth.

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: Living on Love is a pleasure to look through and learn more about this great saint and her world. It would be a valuable addition to any home library as well as a lovely gift for anyone who has a devotion to St. Thérèse. 

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