Saints and Holy People

Find out about their lives and how they changed the world

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (1873–1897)

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (1873–1897)

Patron saint of missionaries, florists, and the sick, especially those suffering from AIDS

Feast day: October 1

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, also known as the “Little Flower,” was born in Alencon, France, in 1873. While still a young girl, Thérèse longed to enter the Carmelite convent at Lisieux. When she was 15, the bishop gave permission, and she joined two of her older sisters there.

Her life of prayer and work in the convent was hidden from others, but she became known to the world through her autobiography The Story of a Soul, published in 1899. The book was translated into many languages and became widely popular. It was not her idea to write it. Her superiors saw a unique holiness in Thérèse and directed her to write it.

In the book, she describes her life as the “little way”—a simple life of spiritual childhood, characterized by acknowledging one’s spiritual poverty, living with complete confidence in God’s love, and dedicating one’s days to the practice of love. Thérèse’s little way to holiness emphasizes great love rather than great deeds and has appealed to countless people seeking to be holy in the midst of ordinary life.

A short time before her death, Thérèse remarked that she would spend her time in Heaven trying to do good on earth. She said she would send a “shower of roses” from heaven. She died at the age of 24 from tuberculosis, after much suffering. She was canonized in 1925 and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1997. (From The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth, Third Edition [Saint Mary's Press]) 

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