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How Did Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin Raise St. Thérèse of Lisieux?

On October 18, 2015, Pope Francis canonized Saints Louis and Zelie Martin, the first married couple to be declared saints on the same day. In his homily, Pope Francis acknowledged that the Martins cultivated such love and faith in their home, that it encouraged all five daughters to offer their lives in service to God—including one of the most well-loved saints in the world, St. Thérèse of Lisieux.

Let’s take a look at this couple’s story and see how they lived to raise holy children. (Read: How to Raise a Pope)

A Devout Household

Louis and Zelie first wanted to live a celibate life as a married couple because they thought it would bring them closer to God. Thankfully, a priest was able to show them the error in their thinking, and the couple went on to have five beautiful daughters. Together, the two parents taught their children to have a deep love for the Catholic faith. Zelie even wanted her children to become saints.

Living a comfortable life through hard work: Zelie (left) was regarded as one of the most talented lacemakers in Alencon, while Louis (right) was making his fortune as a watchmaker. (Photos courtesy of The Embassyof France to the Philippines and Giallo from Pexels)

Despite their busy schedules, Louis and Zelie would always hear the early morning Mass with their children. They also paid great attention to their kids.  Zelie worked late into the night because she would always play with her children during the day. Louis, on the other hand, was known for having terms of endearment for each of his daughters: Marie was his Diamond, Pauline was the Fine Pearl, Celine was the Dauntless One, Leonie was Good-hearted, and the youngest, Thérèse, was his Little Queen. (Read: A Life of Devotion: St. Thérèse and Her ‘Little Ways’ of Loving)

Saintly Children

The couple’s faith and devotion did not go to waste as all their children entered the religious life: Thérèse, Pauline, Marie, and Celine joined the Carmelite Order-Lisieux, and Leonie joined the Visitandine in Caen.

In a letter, St. Thérèse wrote of her parents, “The Lord gave me a father and mother more worthy of heaven and earth. I have had the happiness of belonging to parents who have no equal. God brought it about that I be born in a holy land.”

The youngest among five daughters, Thérèse (center) was addressed by his Father Louis as his “Little Queen” (Photo from Sanctuary Louis and Zélie d’Alençon)

Path to Sainthood

In 2008, the couple were beatified following the miracle of baby Pietro Schiliro, an Italian child cured of lung problems through their intercession. Four years later, it was discovered that another baby, Carmen, was cured of various diseases—including cerebral hemorrhage—through them. This led to the canonization of Louis and Zelie. The saintly couple’s feast day is on July 12, they day before Louis and Zelie were wed.  


The full version of this article appears on the August 2018 issue of My Pope Philippines. Text by Yen Cantiga. Photos from The Embassy of France.
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