Childhood in Alencon

Thérèse Martin was born on 2th January 1873 in Alencon. She is the youngest of a family of nine children, four of whom died in infancy. Her parents, Louis and Zélie Martin, were very religious husbands. She has four older sisters: Marie, Pauline, Léonie and Céline.

Le August 28, 1877, Zélie Martin dies of breast cancer. Only four and a half years old, Thérèse was deeply marked by it. She then chooses her big sister Pauline as "Little Mother".

En November 1877, Louis Martin and his five daughters settled in Lisieux, in the Buissonnets house, in order to be closer to Isidore Guérin, brother of Zélie.

Graces received during his childhood

« The Blessed Virgin smiled at me »

In 1882, Pauline, whom she had chosen as a second mother, entered the Carmel. Thérèse was very affected by this and, at the end of the year, fell seriously ill. Headaches, faintness, hallucinations: his family is very worried and prays to Notre-Dame des Victoires. THE 13th May 1883, the day of Pentecost, Marie, Léonie and Céline turn to the statue of the Virgin placed near Thérèse's bed. Thérèse also prays, and then sees the Virgin smiling at her: she is definitively healed.

Holidays 1886

Thérèse receives a grace of conversion which brings her out of childhood.

« Jesus clothed me with his armor and, since that night, I was not defeated in any battle, but on the contrary I walked from victory to victory and began, so to speak, a race of a giant. »

Ms A, 44v°

Entrance to Carmel

Thérèse entered the Carmel at the age of 15 on April 9th, day of the Annunciation.

« I felt my heart beating with such violence that it seemed impossible to move forward when someone came to sign us to come to the convent door; however, I advanced while wondering if I was not going to die by the force of the beating of my heart… Ah! what a moment! You have to have been there to know what it is... »

Ms A, 69r°

The monastery of Thérèse's time

Life in Carmel

Life in Carmel During her postulancy, Thérèse worked in the linen room with Sister Marie des Anges, the sub-prioress, and was responsible for sweeping the stairs and the dormitory.
She learns about the harsh life of the Carmel.

« I found religious life as I had imagined it, no sacrifice surprised me and yet, you know, my dear Mother, my first steps encountered more thorns than roses!… »

Ms A, 69v°

Daily life in the Carmel at the time of Thérèse

The taking of the habit and the profession

Thérèse takes the habit 10th January 1889. Shortly after, her father, who has a degenerative brain disease, has a particularly bad attack. He was to be interned at the Bon Sauveur asylum in Caen, where he remained for three years. Thérèse then plunged into silence and prayer, contemplating the Holy Face for a long time. She deepens her vocation, she who wants to become a great saint, practices charity towards her sisters, and reads Saint John of the Cross. Her life of prayer draws its source from the reading of the Gospel which she always carries with her.

Thérèse pronounced her final vows on September 8, 1890, in the Nativity of Mary, at the age of 17 and a half, in the hands of her prioress Mother Marie de Gonzague. She then took the name of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus of the Holy Face.

Help in the novitiate

In 1893, Sister Agnès de Jesus became prioress. She entrusted the novitiate to Mother Marie de Gonzague, and asked Thérèse to help her in this task.
The same year, Thérèse wrote her first poetry, then in 1894, her first pious recreations (small plays performed on major feast days by a few sisters for the rest of the community).

Story of a soul

In December 1894, during a recreation, Mother Agnès of Jesus ordered Thérèse to write down her childhood memories at the suggestion of Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart (Marie Martin). Throughout 1895, Thérèse therefore wrote what would become Manuscript A, the first part of theStory of a soul. She will give it to Mother Agnès for her birthday on Jan. 20, 1896.
She wrote Manuscript B at the request of Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart in September 1896.
En June 1897, at the suggestion of Mother Agnès, Mother Marie de Gonzague asks Thérèse to write down her Carmelite memories, which will become the Manuscript C. Thérèse uses her last strength in writing this manuscript which will end with the word "love", like each of his autobiographical manuscripts.

The Spiritual Brothers

10th October, 1895, Mother Agnès of Jesus entrusted Thérèse with her first spiritual brother, Abbé Maurice Bellière, a White Father then still a seminarian, who quickly became one of the first disciples of Thérèse's “little way”.

30th May 1896, Mother Marie de Gonzague entrusts her with her second spiritual brother, Father Adolphe Roulland, priest of the Foreign Missions of Paris who is about to leave for China, and who will become for Thérèse a true soul brother.

Sickness and the Test of Faith

In the Thursday night to Good Friday 1896, Thérèse spits blood, which she perceives “ like a soft and distant murmur announcing to me the arrival of the Bridegroom (Ms C, 5r°). These are the first signs of tuberculosis which will prevail a little more than a year later.
A few days later, she is plunged into the deepest spiritual darkness from which she will never emerge.

« He allowed my soul to be invaded by the deepest darkness and the thought of Heaven, so sweet to me, to be no more than a subject of combat and torment... This ordeal was not to last a few days, a few weeks, it was not to last. extinguish only at the hour marked by the Good Lord and... that hour has not yet come... »

Ms C, 5v°

Entry into life

During the winter, Thérèse's health deteriorates, she suffers a lot. THE July 8, 1897, Thérèse is installed in the infirmary of the monastery. On the evening of September 30, she died at the age of 24. " I don't die, I enter into life. ».
She was buried in the square of the Carmelites in the Lisieux cemetery on October 4, 1897.