Our dear little St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face was born into this world 147 years ago today, January 2, 1873, the last of nine children born into the devout French family of Zelie and Louis Martin. She was baptized two days later and given the name Marie Francoise Therese Martin, being named first after the Blessed Virgin Mary, as were all her sisters.
At age five, St. Therese would lose her mother and experience that profound loss in the comforting arms of her older sisters and devoted father. Her oldest sister Pauline took over as a mother figure and did her best to continue her younger sister’s immersion and education in the Catholic faith.
Here’s an excerpt about St. Therese’s younger years from Collected Little Flower Works by Albert Dolan, published in 1929 by Carmelite Press. “There then we have Therese, the baby of three and four years, vain of her beauty; proud of her pretty dresses; eager for praise and notice; inclined at times to fits of temper and stubbornness; so proud that when offered a coin to stoop humbly and kiss the ground, she refused to bend. Nevertheless, this very human little girl became one of the greatest of all the Saints. No little of the Little Flower’s influence over souls is due to the evil inclinations and other human imperfections which we notice in her youth. Her complete eradication of those faults has taught thousands, and should teach us, the possibility of complete victory over our faults if we imitate the Little Flower’s Little Way of humility, prayerfulness and trust in God.”