Leonie Martin's complete letters to her family (1874-1941) published online in English by the Carmel of Lisieux - April 11, 2015

The last photo of sister francoise-therese (Leonie )martin), taken in 1940

The last photo of sister francoise-therese (Leonie )martin), taken in 1940

Today the Carmel of Lisieux finished publishing online in English all the surviving letters St. Therese's sister, Leonie Martin, wrote to the members of her family.  The letters are available at the Web site of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux.  Leonie, then aged 10, wrote the first surviving letter to her mother in 1874, when she was at the boarding school run by the Visitation nuns at Le Mans.  She wrote the last on June 8, 1941, eight days before her death, to Sister Marie of the Trinity, who had been a novice of St. Therese.

Relatively few of the letters Leonie wrote during the lifetime of St. Therese have survived.  But the Carmel has today published a treasure trove of her later years: 315 letters Leonie wrote to her family after she entered the Visitation in 1899.  Most of them are to her three sisters at Lisieux Carmel (Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart; Mother Agnes of Jesus; and Sister Genevieve of the Holy Face).  Several are to her uncle, Isidore Guerin.  There are also letters to his wife, Celine Guerin; to their daughter Marie (Sister Marie of the Eucharist); and to Therese's prioress, Mother Marie de Gonzague.  These hundreds of letters, never before published in English, contain invaluable insight into Leonie's personality; her spirituality, prayer, and retreats; her daily life and the life of her Visitation community; her relationships with her three sisters in the Carmel;  her reaction to Therese's beatification and canonization; and her response to World War I and World War II.

We congratulate the Carmel of Lisieux and the Association des Amis de Thérèse de Lisieux et de son Carmel on this historic achievement, and we thank them for their generosity.  You will not be able to absorb all these riches at one sitting, so begin!  Dive into Leonie's letters now.

February 25, 2009 is the fiftieth anniversary of the death of St. Therese's last surviving sister

February 25, 2009 marks fifty years since Sister Genevieve of the Holy Face and Saint Therese, the last surviving sister of St. Therese of Lisieux, died in the Carmel of Lisieux on February 25, 1959.  Born Marie Celine Martin, she lived at home with St. Therese until Therese entered Lisieux Carmel on April 9, 1888.  For more than six years, while Celine lived as a laywoman and looked after their father, who was ill, the sisters were separated.  After the death of Blessed Louis Martin, Celine entered the Carmel on September 14, 1894.  As a novice she learned her sister's "way of confidence and love," of which she was a tireless apostle all her life.  She made the offering of herself to Merciful Love with St. Therese on June 11, 1895, and she was the first person to read the childhood memories Therese wrote in 1895 (later the first part of "Story of a Soul").  She looked after St. Therese during her illness.  She painted a famous image of the Holy Face of Jesus and many other portraits, especially of her sister.  She testified at the processes for Therese's beatification and canonization and at the diocesan processes for the cause of her mother and her father, Blessed Zelie and Louis Martin.

For significant dates in Sister Genevieve's life, please see (thanks to Internet Archive) the Web site of the Shrine of Lisieux.

For the powerful correspondence between Therese and Celine, please see  The Letters of St. Therese of Lisieux (Volume I, 1877-1890 and The Letters of St. Therese of Lisieux (Volume II: 1890-1897).

For Celine's memoir of her sister, please see My Sister Saint Therese.

See Celine: Sister and Witness of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, a biography by Franciscan Father Stephane-Joseph Piat, who worked closely with Celine in the 1950s to write the story of her family.