October 1 is the feast of St. Therese, Carmelite nun and Doctor of the Church. Here are five things you may not have known about this beloved saint.
1. She almost died as an infant.
Before Therese was even born, her mother, Blessed Zelie Martin, was already suffering from the breast cancer that would eventually kill her. She was unable to nurse Therese properly, but did not want to turn her over to a wet nurse. A previous daughter had died in a nurse’s care, and daughter Celine had not fared well with a nurse either. Eventually, when Therese was nearly starved, Zelie did find a nurse for her. Therese lived with the nurse for over a year. Afterward, she had trouble re-attaching to her own mother.
2. She dreamed of posing as a penitent.
Therese and her father, Blessed Louis Martin, used to bring fish to an order of nuns that cared for penitent girls. Some of the girls would join the order. Therese, in her humility, dreamed of hiding among them, letting no one know that she was not a penitent herself. Eventually, of course, she found her real vocation in the Carmelite cloister.
3. She believed perfect trust substituted for Purgatory.
Therese chided her cousin Marie Geurin for thinking she would go to Purgatory. “When we love, we can’t go there,” she said. She taught the novices under her direction that if they completely trusted in God and gave away all their merits to others, God would not betray their trust. He would take them to His side immediately after death.
4. She was a prolific letter writer.
A two-volume set of letters between the Martin family and others contains over 1200 epistles. Many were written by Zelie, giving us a glimpse into the years that Therese could not remember. Others were written by Therese to Celine, after Therese entered Carmel. Therese also had two priests with whom she corresponded. Some of the most beautiful and startling words she ever wrote were contained in the letters to these priests.
5. She painted a self-portrait that still exists.
One of Therese’s tasks in the cloister was painting religious paintings. In 1893 she painted a fresco in the Invalids’ Oratory. A sleeping child above the tabernacle to the left represents herself. She was struggling at this period to stay awake in prayer.
Image courtesy of Unsplash.
This post was originally published on Contemplative Homeschool and is reprinted here with permission.