Saints and Holy People

Find out about their lives and how they changed the world

Saints Louis and Zélie Martin (1823–1894, 1831–1877)

Saints Louis and Zélie Martin (1823–1894, 1831–1877)

Feast day: July 12

Louis and Zélie met in Alençon, France as young adults and immediately knew that they were meant to be together. Louis (1823–1894) was a watchmaker from Bordeaux. Zélie (1831–1877) was a lacemaker from Gandelain. They were both devoted to God from a young age and had even considered becoming a priest and a nun, respectively!

Zélie and Louis were married in 1858. They devoted their lives to God and to each other. They attended daily Mass and went to confession often. The couple put special effort into practicing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy for the people in their town, all without any fanfare or attention. They had a particular passion for the missions and made frequent donations to missionary efforts.

The Martins had nine children, four of whom died at a very young age. Zélie taught her children to offer their hearts to God each day and to accept little difficulties in order to please Jesus. By his example, Louis taught them to spend time with God in quiet contemplation. The Martins’ five daughters, Pauline, Louise, Léonie, Céline, and Thérèse, were well-educated and very close to one another, especially after their mother Zélie died of breast cancer.

At that time the Martins moved to Lisieux to be closer to Zélie’s brother and his family, who helped take care of the girls. Pauline, Louise, Céline, and Thérèse (who was canonized in 1925 as Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus) eventually joined the Carmelite convent in Lisieux.

After Louis’s death, Léonie joined the Visitation convent in Caen. The Martins’ cause for beatification was opened in 1957. Céline, by then known as Sister Geneviève of the Holy Face, testified to the harmony and virtue of her parents’ lives. Louis and Zélie were beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in 2008 and canonized by Pope Francis in 2015. They were the first married couple with children to be canonized in the same ceremony.

(Images in public domain-70)