A disciple of the way of confidence and love
Canon Jean-Baptiste Delatroette, parish priest of St. Jacques
1818-1895. Canon Delatroette was pastor of St. Jacques and priest-superior of the Lisieux Carmel from 1867-1895. He opposed Therese's entrance because he thought she was too young. At the small entrance ceremony on April 9, 1888, he said "Well, my Reverend Mothers, you can sing a Te Deum. As the delegate of Monseigneur the bishop, I present to you this child of fifteen whose entrance you so much desired. I trust that she will not disappoint your hopes, but I remind you that, if she does, the responsibility is yours, and yours alone." Later, however, he was impressed by Therese's way of living in Carmel, and he said "She shows great promise for this community." After Leonie returned from the Visitation in January 1888, she went to confession to M. Delatroette. Pauline wrote instructing Leonie: "The last time she will go to confession before April 9, she can say only: "Father, Therese's entrance is on Monday. We will expect you at the Carmel at the hour you designate."
Father Maurice-Joseph Reverony, vicar-general of Bayeux
1836-1891. Father Reverony was present at the interview Therese and her father had with Bishop Hugonin on October 31, 1887, and he led the diocesan pilgrimage to Rome in November 1887. It was he who presented Celine, Therese, and Louis Martin to Pope Leo XIII. At first uncertain about Therese's entrance, he later became her advocate and was instrumental in obtaining permission for her to enter at fifteen.
Father Leconte, cure of St. Pierre's Cathedral in Lisieux
Abbe Leconte made the pilgrimage to Rome and was often in company with the Martin family there. It was probably he who offered the private Mass at the Holy House of Loretto at which Therese and Celine joined him, and he permitted them both to receive communion.
Most Reverend Flavien Hugonin, Bishop of Bayeux and Lisieux
Monseigneur Hugonin was born in 1823 and died in 1898. He was bishop of the diocese of Bayeux and Lisieux from 1866 through 1898. Leonie was Therese's "godmother" when the bishop confimed Therese in 1884. Bishop Hugonin received her on October 31, 1887 when she asked permission to become a Carmelite, authorized the prioress of Carmel to receive the postulant, and presided at Therese's reception of the Habit on January 10, 1889, when Leonie was present. In "Story of a Soul" Therese speaks of how kind he was to her on his visits to Carmel. He always spoke of how, in their first interview in 1887, she had put her hair up to look older.
Pope Leo XIII, of whom Therese begged permission to enter Carmel at 15
Pope Leo XIII received Therese and the other pilgrims from her diocese on November 20, 1887. Therese begged for permission to enter and had to be carried away from the Pope's feet by the guards. Therese wrote to Celine "The good Pope is so old, one would think he is dead," but, despite his fragile health, when Therese died in 1897, he was still living in Rome.
Madame Elisa-Ernestine Fournet (1816-1901), Celine Guerin's mother
"Madame Fournet," as Therese called her, born Petit, was the mother of Celine Fournet, who married Therese's maternal uncle, Isidore Guerin. Leonie took devoted care of her aunt's mother.
Helene and Celine Maudelonde
These two sisters, daughters of Madame Guerin's sister, were the first cousins of Therese's cousins, Jeanne and Marie Guerin. It was to Celine Maudelonde that Therese, in the summer of 1897, dictated the message: "Tell Celine that . . . God is calling her to be a saint in the world, and He has special plans for her and a special love."
Jeanne and Marie Guerin, Therese's cousins
Celine and Therese Martin
Madame Maudelonde, the sister of Celine Guerin
Marie-Rosalie Fournet, born 1843, was the sister of Celine Fournet Guerin, Therese's aunt by marriage. She married Cesar Maudelonde. Her family was close to the Guerins and the Martins.
Celine Fournet (1847-1900) married Isidore Guerin, Therese's uncle, in 1866. She was very close to Therese's mother, Zelie, and it was to give his motherless children the advantage of associating with the Guerin family that Louis Martin left Alencon for Lisieux in 1877. Her niece Celine described her as "an angel of peace and sweetness."
Marie-Isidore-Victor Guerin (known as "Isidore"), 1841-1909
Therese's uncle, the brother of her mother, Zelie. Isidore was a pharmacist at Lisieux until an inheritance he received through his wife's family made it possible for him to give up that profession. With Louis Martin, he was the chief benefactor of the Lisieux Carmel, which his daughter Marie entered in 1895.
Isidore Guerin in his later years
"Felicite" Hubert, a maid of the Martin family
Marie Hubert, known as "Felicite," worked for the Martin family at Les Buissonnets from 1884 through 1886.
Students of the Benedictine Abbey of Notre Dame du Pres at Lisieux
A class at the Benedictine Abbey gathered around their teacher
Unlike Therese, Leonie loved the Abbey, where she was a boarding pupil. She retained warm bonds with her teachers.
Madame Valentine Papinau, Therese's tutor after Therese left the Abbey school
Therese's cousin Marie Guerin, later Sister Marie of the Eucharist
Therese's cousin Jeanne Guerin
Jeanne married Francis La Neele, a physician at Caen.
The young Francis La Neele
Dr. Francis La Neele
In the absence of the community's usual physician, Francis visited Therese during her last illness. He represented Leonie's family at her profession on July 2, 1900, for both his wife, Jeanne Guerin, Leonie's cousin, and her father, Isidore Guerin, Leonie's uncle, were sick that day.
The Guerin family
from left, Celine Martin; Isidore Guerin, standing; Celine Guerin; Francis La Neele; Jeanne Guerin; Marie Guerin.
Léonie Martin, the sister of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, became Sister Françoise-Thérèse of the Monastery of the Visitation at Caen in northern France. Léonie led a challenging life: ill from childhood; abused by a maidservant; expelled from school; isolated within her family. She tried religious life three times before she succeeded: in 1899, at the age of 35, she entered definitively the Monastery of the Visitation at Caen, where she died in 1941 at the age of 78.
How did the troubled child and unhappy teenager turn into the sister everyone remembered as so kind, so serene, and so happy that they could not believe she had had a difficult childhood? As a laywoman, Léonie lived at the margins of her family and her society. She found Christ there and made him the center and the source of her life. She discovered God within herself, in her woundedness, and she became the first disciple of Thérèse's "way of confidence and love."
After her death, Léonie was almost forgotten for a long time. But, about 1960, the nuns of her monastery began to receive letters from all over the world asking them to pray that Léonie might obtain graces for those who wrote. Many of these letters came from the parents of special children, from families in conflict, and from persons who, like Léonie, struggle to find and to fulfill their vocations. These were followed by letters of thanksgiving. Pilgrims come to pray at her tomb, to ask for graces and to give thanks. Now she is being considered for beatifcation. Mgr Jean-Claude Boulanger, bishop of Bayeux-Lisieux, the diocese where Léonie lived most of her life and where she died, has granted the imprimatur for a prayer asking that Léonie might be declared "venerable" (that is, declared to have practced heroic virtue).
Léonie's mission is to draw souls, especially the wounded, the broken, and those who have not found a place in the world, to God. Invite her to accompany you and to lead you to surrender yourself, as she did, to God's "consuming and transforming love."