“The Greatest Saint of Modern Times”

October 1, 2018
Martin Family

Near the end of the nineteenth century a nun wrote about a fellow sister who was dying: “I really wonder what our mother [superior] will be able to say after her death.  She will be very embarrassed, for this little sister, as likable as she is, has certainly done nothing worth the trouble of being recounted.” Yet, in the early twentieth century, just a few years after the little sister died, Pope Pius X called her "the greatest saint of modern times."  The saint, as you probably suspected, is the French Carmelite Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus (Saint Thérèse of Liseux), whose feast day the Church celebrates October 1stFORMED is the place to go if you want to have a Thérèsian feast.  

First is the movie Miracle of Saint ThérèseMade in France in the 1950s, the film tells the saint’s story from childhood to her death in 1897 at the age of 24, including how she came to write her masterwork, The Story of a Soul, in which she details her “little way of spiritual childhood” – seeking holiness of life in the ordinary and the everyday.  Published shortly after her death, the book gained worldwide acclaim, from, among many others, Pope Benedict XV as well as Pope Pius X.  If you want to know the story of this saint, Miracle of Saint Thérèse is an ideal introduction. Steven Greydanus, movie critic of the National Catholic Register, praises it for “effectively [bringing] the saint’s story and spirituality to life.”

Next on the FORMED menu is a much more recent film, The Secret of Saint Thérèse.  In addition to telling her life and story, it goes around the world – Italy, France, Lebanon, Nigeria, the Netherlands, as well as the United States – interviewing people whose lives have been transformed by Saint Thérèse.  None of these need reminding of Thérèse’s reflection as she neared death: “I will spend my Heaven doing good on earth

Finally, in 2015, Pope Francis canonized Louis and Zélie Martin, Thérèse’s parents.   The story of this holy family is told in A Family of Saints: The Martins of Lisieux–Saints Thérèse, Louis, and Zélie, a book available on FORMED that is a superb way to conclude the Thérèsian feast.