Meditations on the anniversary of the death of Blessed Louis Martin, father of St. Therese

Blessed Louis Martin, the father of St. Therese of the Child Jesus of the Holy Face, died on Sunday, July 29, 1894 at Chateau La Musse near Evreux.  

A meditation for the anniversary of his death from his niece, Marie Guerin, later Sister Marie of the Eucharist in the Carmel of Lisieux: 

In May 1895, when Marie returned to Chateau La Musse for the first time after her uncle's death, she wrote to her cousin, Louis's daughter Celine:  "I made my little pilgrimage as soon as I had alighted from the carriage.  I have been in my uncle's room, and there all the memories came back to me.  I saw it all again . . . I was overwhelmed with the impression that there, in that chamber, something so great had taken place; that there my uncle had seen God and had been so well received.  It seemed to me that I was also going to see something of Heaven, and my uncle has given me this thought, when thinking of the particular judgement:  "Judge not, and you will not be judged!"

On July 28, 1895, the vigil of the first anniversary of his death, Marie Guerin wrote again:  "I cannot pass by that room without being seized, in spite of myself, with a solemn, calm feeling that speaks to me of the other world and fills my soul.  That happens to me very often and without any preparation on my part.  I am "seized"--it is the correct word to use.  I do not now why but this anniversary, sad in itself, has not at all that effect upon me.  I feel so sure that my uncle entered Heaven that day, that I have rather a feeling of happiness when I think of his deliverance.  How happy he is now, but he has well deserved it . . . !  Tomorrow, I mean to ask many graces from him, and I am sure I shall obtain them on that day.  When one recalls, and has imprinted on one's mind his beautiful expression, calm and full of such happy peace, it is impossible not to be led to love God."  (Story of a Family, by Stephane-Joseph Piat, O.F.M.  New YorK: P. J. Kenedy & Sons, 1947, pp. 417-418).



7 rue Labbey, last home of Blessed Louis Martin, the father of St. Therese of Lisieux

On the vigil of the feast of Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin, a commemorative plaque was dedicated to mark the house at 7 rue Labbey, Lisieux, where Louis lived after he left the Bon Sauveur hospital in Caen in May 1892.  Susan Ehlert and the house's present owners, Mme. Anne-Marie Hervieu and M. Jacques Hervieu, graciously made available photos of the house and plaque and a film of the ceremony, including a view of the garden where Louis spent so much time.  Click here for a virtual visit to rue Labbey.



A feast-day visit to the home of Blessed Louis Martin at 7 rue Labbey, Lisieux

A happy feast to Blessed Zelie and Louis Martin!  As a feast-day gift to my readers, I have created a photo gallery today of my privileged visit, as a pilgrim to their beatification, to the house and garden at 7 rue Labbey where Louis Martin lived with his daughters Leonie and Celine after he was released from the Bon Sauveur psychiatric hospital at Caen.  For the story of this visit and present-day photos of the house at Rue Labbey and of Isidore Guerin's house on Rue-Paul Banaston, please visit the photo gallery for Blessed Louis Martin's home on Rue Labbey.



"Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin, the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux: their lives and beatification," a photo show in honor of their first feast on July 12


Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin, the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux: their lives and beatification from Maureen O'Riordan on Vimeo.


The first liturgical feast of Blessed Zelie and Louis Martin, the parents of St. Therese, will be celebrated on Sunday, July 12, the anniversary of their marriage in 1858. The Shrine at Lisieux has announced a two-day celebration of liturgy, prayer, and festivities.Cardinal Tettamanzi, Archbishop of Milan, will preside at a Pontifical Mass in the Basilica of St. Therese, where Louis and Zelie were beatified on October 19, 2009. See the schedule of liturgies and festivities.

In honor of the first feast of the Martin spouses, I am happy to present the photo show "Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin, the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux: Their lives and beatification" above. Please celebrate the feast by joining us in this virtual pilgrimage to the places Louis and Zelie made holy by living with such faith, hope, and love. View the historic exhibit "Story of a Family" mounted at Lisieux in honor of the beatification, with furniture, possessions, documents, and photos belonging to the Martin family. See photos of Pietro Schiliro, the Italian child healed at the intercession of Zelie and Louis, and photos of his family. View the images of the beatification ceremony and of the reliquary. Come as a pilgrim of the heart to honor the faithful servants of God, and ask for the grace to imitate them.

Blessed Louis Martin, the "incomparable father" of St. Therese: a Father's Day meditation

Blessed Louis Martin, the "incomparable father" of St. Therese of Lisieux: A Father's Day Meditation


               At the beatification of Louis and Zélie Martin, Cardinal Saraiva Martins, reading the Pope’s letter, described them as “laypersons, spouses, and parents.” Louis, spouse and parent, knew that the first duty of a good father is to be a good husband. Zelie wrote about him, “I am always very happy with him; he fills my life with tenderness and sweetness. My husband is a very holy man; I wish every woman had a husband like him . . . Our feelings were always in unison, and he was always my support and my consolation.” In the years of their marriage (1858-1877), Louis was a most generous husband and father. Seeing the success of Zélie’s lace business, he gave up the craft of watchmaking for which he had trained for many years, sold his business to his nephew for a modest price, and handled the traveling and business end of the lace-manufacturing business. After Zélie’s death, he left his friends in Alencon to give his daughters the advantage of the influence of their maternal uncle, aunt, and cousins at Lisieux. At a time when the father was usually “master of the house,” he gave his older daughters a free hand in running the household and teaching their little sisters. He spared nothing to develop their talents, procuring art lessons and supplies and giving them every advantage in his power.


Louis Martin was a brave man. As a boy, he belonged to a boys’ military club. Exercising regularly, he grew into a tall, vigorous man. He swam well enough to save a child from drowning, saved trapped persons from fires, and was so courageous on the streets that, if he was out later than usual, his daughters worried that he might be badly injured while trying to separate men who were fighting.


His feminine side was well developed. When he was left a single parent, he became both father and mother to his daughters, who said “our father’s affectionate heart was enriched with a truly maternal love.” Many days he escorted the girls to and from school, listening patiently to the accounts of their days. Every evening he joined them after supper in their little salon, making toys for them, singing to them, telling them stories, reciting poems, and playing games before family prayers.


He had a profound respect for the spiritual lives of his daughters; he not only gave them the greatest freedom to fulfill their vocations but actively supported them. When the vicar-general of the diocese failed to support Therese when she appealed to the Pope for permission to become a Carmelite at fifteen, Louis, meeting him several days later, said forthrightly: “You know very well that you had promised to help me.” When the family was visiting Alencon and Leonie abruptly and without asking permission entered the Poor Clares, he permitted her to remain there and supported her generously. He understood that his daughters belonged to God, Who entrusted him with their care, and joined generously with his wife in their joint task “to bring them up for heaven.” When he became paralyzed and had to accept being cared for in an institution and then by his family, he surrendered himself completely and was deeply touched by their devotion.


Blessed Louis Martin offers the fathers of today a new model of masculinity and fatherhood. Uniting his love for God with his love for his wife and his daughters, he understood the essence of fatherhood: that his role as co-creator of the souls of his children to glorify God did not end with their birth, but continued throughout his life. He was a father, as he often repeated, “all for God’s greater glory.”