Read the story of Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus

Saving souls

Thérèse Françoise Marie Martin nasce Alençon il 2 gennaio 1873 da una coppia di commercianti in oreficeria, molto credenti, “degni più del cielo che della terra”, come li definiva Teresina. E’ l’ultima di otto figli, tre dei quali morti bambini.

Orfana di madre all’età di quattro anni, rivive il dramma dell’abbandono per il progressivo ingresso in Carmelo delle quattro sorelle, ricevendo in compenso l’affetto particolare del padre, che la chiama “piccola Regina di Francia e di Navarra” e anche “l’orfanella della Beresina”.

In turn, he entered the Carmel of Lisieux at the age of only 15, thanks to a special permission from Pope Leo XIII, which Teresa herself had gone to Rome to beg: "If God wills, you will enter itwas the pontiff's response.

The girl's desire was "to save souls" and above all "to pray for the help of priests". Sister Teresa of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face is the name she assumed at the time of profession of vows.

At the suggestion of the superior, she immediately began to keep a diary in which she noted the stages of her inner life. He wrote in 1895: "On June 9, the feast of the Most Holy Trinity, I received the grace to understand more than ever how much Jesus desires to be loved".

The little street

In late 19th-century France positivist thought was spreading, encouraged by the multiplication of great inventions and supported by anti-clerical and atheistic impulses.

For this reason, Teresa's elaboration of a very original spirituality, also called "theology of the little way" or of spiritual childhood, assumes particular importance, which founds the practice of love for God not in great actions, but in seemingly insignificant everyday acts.

Teresa writes in her autobiography "There is only one thing to do: throw the flowers of the small sacrifices to Jesus". And elsewhere: "I want to teach the small ways that I have succeeded."

In the original draft, this diary bears the subtitle "Spring story of a white flower". But under the apparent romanticism there is actually a hard path towards holiness marked by a strong response to God's love for man.

Not understood by the Carmelite sisters, Teresa declares that she has received "more thorns than roses", but she patiently accepts injustices and persecutions as well as pain and fatigue deriving from illness, offering everything "for the needs of the Church", "to throw roses on all, righteous and sinners”.

For John Paul II and Benedict XVI, the specificity of her spirituality is total openness to the invasion of God's love, the ability to respond to this love even in the "night" of the spirit: sister in this of sinners, the distant, the atheists, desperate people and for this reason declared patroness of missionaries.

Death and vicissitudes of the "Story of a soul"

After nine years of religious life, Teresa died at the age of only 24, on 30 September 1897, of tuberculosis: already in 1923 she was beatified by Pope Pius XI who considered her the "star of his pontificate", then canonized in 1925.

Negli anni cinquanta del secolo scorso l’abbé André Combes, teologo all’Institut Catholique, alla Sorbona di Parigi e alla Lateranense, scoprì le manipolazioni che erano state compiute in buona fede sul Diario di Teresa, dalle stesse sorelle, inclini a considerarla la piccola di casa; la dottrina spirituale e teologale dell’”infanzia spirituale” non si limita però a uno sfondo psicologistico e sentimentale fatto solo di attenzione alle piccole cose.

The heart of his spirituality lies rather in the awareness that man, even in his littleness, ends up divinized by Grace. In this Teresa responds to the "masters of suspicion" such as Feuerbach,Marx, Freud, Nietzsche.The man-creature who lets himself be deified by the invasion of God's love is anything but "alienated". Christology and anthropology thus go hand in hand: Teresa anticipates by almost a century some texts of Vatican II, of Paul VI and in particular some passages of theCaritas in Veritateof Benedict XVI.

source © Dicastery for Communication

Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus
Saint Therese of Lisieux

Related texts:

Pope Pius XI Holy Mass in honor of Saint Teresa of Lisieux, May 17, 1925

Pope Pius XII radio message for the consecration of the Basilica of Santa Teresa in Lisieux

Papal chapel of Pope John Paul II for the proclamation of Saint Teresa of Lisieux Doctor of the Church 19 October 1997

General audience of Pope Benedict XVI April 6, 2011

Encyclical of Benedict XVI "Caritas in Veritate"

Messa Santa Marta Papa Francesco 1 ottobre 2013

From the website "The Holy See"

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Hi, I'm Remigio Ruberto, father of Eugenio. The love that binds me to Eugenio is timeless and spaceless.

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