Thérèse of Lisieux, born 150 years ago, chose “the little way” to make her way to Heaven. Canonized only two years after her beatification, many miracles are attributed to her. They attest to the very special bond that the little Carmelite nun maintains with men and the help that she gives them in their distress.
“By the authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ (…) We declare Blessed Thérèse of the Child Jesus to be a saint”. The one affectionately nicknamed “little Thérèse”, canonized on May 17, 1925 by Pope Pius XI, thus joined the long procession of saints. The year 2023 marks both the 150th anniversary of the birth and the 100th anniversary of the beatification of the young Carmelite. On this occasion begins a jubilee year, opened this Sunday, January 8 by Mgr Jacques Habert, bishop of Bayeux and Lisieux.
In France as in the whole world, we pray to her and we thank her for her constant intercession, and, often, for the miracles performed, the “rains of roses” that she had promised before joining the Father. Thus, a lot of testimonies report miracles, and this from his death, when the pilgrims go to his tomb. However, only some led Thérèse to become a saint in the eyes of the Catholic Church. But which ones?
1the healing of a blind 4-year-old girl
This is the miracle that led to the opening of the process for the beatification of the saint. We are on May 26, 1908 when a 4-year-old girl, Reine Fauquet, goes with her family to the tomb of Thérèse Martin. She suffers from blindness recognized as incurable by doctors. However, after returning from their pilgrimage, the little girl recovers her sight. Her big sister, Marie, write the Carmelites, explains that she saw the little Queen, on the morning of May 26, suddenly calm down after a severe attack of pain, then stare at something smiling before falling asleep peacefully. . The little girl then explained to Marie, then to her mother and to the Carmelites of Lisieux: “I saw little Thérèse, there, very close to my bed, she took my hand, she laughed at me, she was beautiful, she had a veil, and it was all lit around her head”. “How was she dressed?” then asks one of the nuns. ” Like you ! answers the little girl. The doctor then issues a certificate, on July 6, 1908, attesting to the total recovery of Reine Fauquet. Healing which will bring the singer Edith Piaf, also destined to be blind, to go to the tomb of the saint in 1922. She too will regain her sight and will maintain, with regard to Thérèse of Lisieux, a deep devotion throughout of his life. In 1909, following the miracle of the little Queen, an investigation was opened to recognize the heroic virtues of the Venerable Servant of God.
2The healing of a young seminarian suffering from tuberculosis
Charles Anne is a young seminarian from Lisieux. In 1906, he was stricken with pulmonary tuberculosis. His doctor quickly gives him an unfavorable diagnosis and the young future priest prepares for death. Seized with a burst of hope, he nevertheless decided to address two novenas to Saint Thérèse and it was then that his health recovered almost immediately. The doctor is speechless! An X-ray, however, clearly shows that the tuberculosis is definitely gone. This miracle is the one chosen to allow the beatification of Thérèse, on April 29, 1923. Definitely, Thérèse does not like to wait!
3The Healing of Sister Louise of Saint-Germain
Sister Louise is a novice at the Convent of the Daughters of the Cross, in Ustaritz (Basses-Pyrénées). Taking violent vomiting regularly, the young woman carried out medical examinations which found a stomach ulcer. After several months spent in the infirmary, Sister Louise felt sufficiently recovered, but the pain returned almost immediately. In an extremely advanced state of exhaustion, the nun was administered the last rites. Impossible then to swallow anything, even water: the sister almost immediately rejects the slightest sip or bite. Very worried, the community turned to Thérèse of Lisieux, begging her to intervene. Sister Louise is not left out and joins in this prayer effort. “I loved this little saint very much, who even deigned, during this novena, to make me feel her presence”, she says. “I had the very gentle impression of his hand resting on my head as if to reassure me, and for three days a mysterious perfume that the sisters could not explain spread through the room that I stayed in. occupied,” says Louise. Healing, however, is far from certain. This time Thérèse takes her time. So Louise renounces healing and simply invokes the saint for comfort and assistance. Then, one night in September, little Thérèse appeared to the poor sister, all suffering. “Be generous, soon you will recover, I promise you. The next morning, the sisters discovered rose petals all around Louise’s bed. A few more days, and Sister Louise wakes up completely healed, without pain or symptoms.
4The healing of Sister Gabrielle Trimusi
To pass from beatification to canonization, the Catholic Church must recognize two new miracles which are thus authenticated and which allow the Pope to proclaim the canonization. One of them is, once again, healing. Gabrielle Trimusi is a young Italian woman, who joined the congregation of the Poor Daughters of the Sacred Hearts at the age of 23. Suffering from the knee, the young girl does not rest for all that and continues a whole bunch of domestic tasks which gradually wear out her joint. And what had to happen happened: Gabrielle finds herself suffering from an infection that inflicts terrible pain on her, until she loses her appetite and loses weight. After three years of fighting against these ailments and an incalculable number of drugs prescribed by the most seasoned doctors, the young nun sees her spine affected in turn. Desperate to recover, she turns to Saint Thérèse. After having painfully made her way to the chapel on the last day of the novena, Gabrielle realizes that she can kneel without suffering to pray! Immediately afterwards, the back pain left her: the pain that gnawed at her was over.
5The healing of Maria Pellemans
Second miracle that opens the door to his canonization. In 1919, Maria Pellemans, of Belgian origin, began to suffer from intestinal tuberculosis. She goes to Lourdes, in a first pilgrimage, to ask for her healing. In vain. No doubt the Blessed Virgin was waiting for Maria to meet Thérèse: a year later, Maria joined a pilgrimage to Lisieux, and after having meditated fervently at Thérèse’s tomb, she immediately obtained a cure. She then testified at the Carmel of Lisieux : “It was in the visiting room of the Carmel that I conceived the desire to ask for my healing, in order to be able to realize the dream of my life, to be a Carmelite. Despite my extreme fatigue, I wanted to return to the tomb. No sooner was I there than a very sweet and supernatural feeling invaded me entirely, a celestial well-being penetrated my soul and my body, I felt like in another world, flooded with an ocean of peace. Penetrated by such an extraordinary emotion that inwardly I thought: I am surely cured! »
Returning home, Maria is inspected by her doctor, who is upset by her diagnosis. “I don’t understand, I find you completely changed, that cannot be explained naturally, because the stomach and the intestines were incurable. Yes, if this transformation persists, we can say that it is a great miracle”. And, as you can imagine, the healing, since real, persisted.
6The Miracle of Gallipoli
This miraculous fact was the object of such popular devotion that it too was the subject of a canonical investigation. It is not a question here of a cure, but of assistance brought by the saint to the prioress of a Carmel located in Puglia (northern Italy, nldr), Mother Maria Carmela of the Heart of Jesus. The latter is very worried about the debts of her Carmel, which she cannot cover, lacking funds. While she was suffering, Saint Thérèse appeared to her in a dream, comforting her and speaking to her with great gentleness. “Look, the Lord uses the inhabitants of Heaven as well as those of the earth,” said the saint. “Here are five hundred liras with which you will pay the debt of your community”. The prioress wakes up, and her daughters, seeing her unwell, want to call the doctor. “To avoid this I told them that I was under the impression of a dream which had shaken me a little and I told them about it with simplicity”, explain in a letter Mother Maria Carmela to Mother Agnès, superior of the Carmel of Lisieux. “These two nuns then wanted me to open the casket, but I told them that you shouldn’t believe in dreams, that it was even a sin. Finally, given their insistence, I did, but only to please them. I went to the tower, I opened the box and there… I really found the miraculous note of five hundred liras! This miracle made Gallipoli a place of pilgrimage, and even more a real place of radiance of spirituality and devotion to Thérèse of Lisieux in Italy.
Thus, little Thérèse manifested the power of her intercession in the lives of men, very often the most deprived, the sick and the lonely. The one who had promised to “spend her heaven doing good on earth” kept her word.