The articles. 2 - Thérèse’s virtues





The Servant of God’s life was remarkable in terms of her constant practice of Christian virtues; even at a young age, she fought against her nascent faults. Her virtues grew during her religious life to reach, in respect of their promptness, generosity, and unfailing continuity, a heroic degree, thereby distinguishing them from the virtues practiced by other fervent nuns, just as in a battle, heroes stand out from the brave men surrounding them.


28 – Thérèse of the Child Jesus had a precocious faith. As a small child, she would demonstrate it in comments about God’s power, thoughts of heaven, and practicing sacrifices. She said, “I strove to please Jesus in everything I did and I took great care not to offend Him.” (MSA 15,2) She made her first confession in a great spirit of faith. At the age of five and a half, a sermon on the Passion moved her so deeply that from that moment on she was able to understand and appreciate all religious teachings. Her reverent attitude in church and her enjoyment of speaking and hearing about pious [39v] matters revealed a rare devotion. Her virtues were reflected by a heavenly light in her features. Observing her, someone said, “There’s something about this child. Other girls are just as pretty, but do not have little Thérèse’s beauty: heaven shines out of her eyes.” – As will be shown . . .

29 – Her faith was visible in her long-term preparation for First Communion. When her sister Céline prepared for her own special day, Thérèse was only seven years old. She wanted to imitate her sister and resolved to subsequently lead a new life, thinking that four years was not too long to spend preparing to receive Jesus. Helped by her sister Marie, she redoubled her efforts. When the immediate preparation came, she would withdraw alone to her bedroom to think about God in true oration. She kept the following memory of her First Communion: “That day our meeting was more than simple recognition, it was perfect union. We were no longer two. Thérèse had disappeared like a drop of water lost in the immensity of the ocean; Jesus alone remained - He was the Master, the King!” (MSA 35,1) As will be shown . . .

30 – Afterwards, she aspired to approach the Holy Table often and throughout her life was remarked for her devotion to the Eucharist. She wrote, “Jesus does not come down from Heaven each day in order to remain in a golden ciborium, but to find another Heaven - the Heaven of our souls in which He takes such delight.” (MSA 48,2) She did not content herself with simply taking Communion; she undertook nothing important without having the Holy Sacrifice of Mass offered. At the age of 14, already consumed with thirst for souls, she wished to obtain the conversion of the notorious murderer called Pranzini. Feeling that her meagre merits would be insufficient, [40r] she asked her sister Céline, who had inferred her intentions, to have a Mass said for the criminal. Later on, whenever she was given money for her feast days, she would ask permission to use it to have Mass said for the man whom she called “her child.” (MSA 46,2) She wrote:  

“To kindle my ardour still further, our Divine Master soon showed me that my desires were pleasing to Him. I heard talk of a notorious criminal, Pranzini, who was sentenced to death for several shocking murders, and, as he was quite impenitent, everyone feared he would be eternally lost. How I longed to avert this irreparable calamity! In order to do so I employed all the spiritual means I could think of, and, knowing that my own efforts were in vain, I offered the infinite merits of Our Saviour and the treasures of Holy Church for his forgiveness. Need I say that in the depths of my heart I felt certain my request would be granted? But, that I might gain courage to persevere in the quest for souls, I said in all simplicity, ‘My God, I am quite sure that You will forgive the unfortunate Pranzini. I would still think so even if he did not confess his sins or show any sign of sorrow, because such is my confidence in Your unbound Mercy;but this is my first sinner, and therefore I beg for just one sign of repentance to reassure me.’My prayer was granted to the letter.” (MSA 45,2 46,1) As will be shown . . .

31 – The Servant of God nourished her soul with The Imitation of Christ, a book that she knew by heart by the time she joined the Carmel, and by reading the Holy Scriptures: “In them I find a hidden manna, genuine and pure. But it is from the Gospels that I find most help during the time of prayer; from them I draw all that I need for my poor [40v] soul. I am always discovering in them new insights and mysterious hidden meanings. I know and have experienced that ‘the Kingdom of God is within us.’ Our Lord has no need of books or teachers to instruct our souls. He, the Teacher of Teachers, instructs us without the noise of words. I have never heard Him speak, yet I know He is within me. He is there, always guiding and inspiring me; and just when I need them, lights, hitherto unseen, break through.” (MSA 83,2)

To a missionary, she wrote, “At times, when reading certain spiritual treatises in which perfection is shown through a thousand obstacles, surround­ed by a crowd of illusions, my poor little mind quickly tires; I close the learned book that is hurting my head and numbing my heart, and I take up Holy Scripture. Then everything seems crystal clear to me; a single word reveals infinite horizons to my soul, perfection seems simple to me. I see it is sufficient to recognise one’s insignificance and to surrender oneself as a child into God’s arms. Leaving to great souls and great minds the beautiful books that I cannot understand, much less put into practice, I rejoice at being little since children alone and those who resemble them will be admitted to the heavenly banquet. I am very happy there are many mansions in God’s kingdom, for if there were only the one whose description and road seems incom­prehensible to me, I would not be able to enter there.” LT 226

        Thérèse drew from scripture what, in her graceful language, she called the lift that would raise her to Jesus. “I have sought to find in Holy Scripture some suggestion as to what this much-desired lift might be, and I read these words uttered by Eternal Wisdom Himself: ‘Whosoever is a little one, let him come to Me.’ (Prov. 9, 4).I drew nearer to God, feeling sure that I had discovered what I sought; but wishing to know further what He would do to the little one, I continued my search and this is what I found:

As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; I will hold you in my arms and rock you on my knees.’ Never have I been consoled by words more tender or sweet. Your Arms, then, O Jesus, are the lift which must raise me up to Heaven. To get there I need not grow; on the contrary, I must remain little, I must become still smaller. O my God, You have surpassed my expectation, and I . . . ‘I will sing Your mercies! You have taught me, O Lord, from my youth and to this day I declare Your wondrous deeds; I will proclaim them even when I am old and grey.’”(MSC 3,1)

She would go on to sing:

“Make me wise in the ways of Heaven. / Show me the secrets hidden in the Gospel. / Ah! that golden book / Is my dearest treasure, / Remember.” (PN [Poem] 24 stanza 12)

- As will be shown . . .

32 – Her faith, which fortified her religious life and inspired her words and writings, came under attack from violent and lengthy temptations, and these further increased her merit. This was at the beginning of her illness. She described them as follows:

“During the Paschal days, so full of light, our Lord made me understand that there are in truth souls bereft of Faith and Hope, who, through abuse of grace, lose these precious treasures, the only source of pure and lasting joy. He allowed my soul to be overwhelmed with darkness, and the thought of Heaven, which had consoled me from my earliest childhood, now became a subject of conflict and torture. This trial [41v] did not last merely for days or weeks; I have been suffering for months, and I still await deliverance. I wish I could express what I feel, but it is beyond me. One must have passed through this dark tunnel to understand its blackness. It seems to me that out of the darkness I hear the mocking voice of the unbeliever: ‘You dream of a land of light and fragrance, you dream that the Creator of these wonders will be yours for ever, you think one day to escape from these mists where you now languish. Nay, rejoice in death, which will give you, not what you hope for, but a night darker still, the night of utter nothingness!’ . . . Dear Mother, this description of what I suffer is as far removed from reality as the first rough outline is from the model, but I fear that to write more were to blaspheme . . . even now I may have said too much. May God forgive me! He knows that I try to live by Faith, though it does not afford me the least consolation. I have made more acts of Faith in this last year than during all the rest of my life.” (MSC 5,2-7,1)

At the request of a very enlightened friar, in whom she had confided her troubles, she wore next to her heart the Apostle’s Creed written in her own blood. The violence of the temptations with which she was faced must not be underestimated when reading the poems that she wrote at the time, because she insisted, “When I sing of the happiness of Heaven and the eternal possession of God, I do not feel any joy therein, for I sing only of what I wish to believe.” (MSC 7,2) – As will be shown . . .

33 – Throughout her life she trusted greatly in the Blessed Virgin’s protection. She was shown Mary’s manifest protection during a novena to Our Lady of Victories, when she was healed from an illness that pained all around her. In the even more difficult task of directing the novices, she [42r] cast an inward glance to Mary. The statue brought her comfort in her illness. “How I do love the Blessed Virgin,” she said one day. “If I had been a priest, I would have preached about her. She is shown as unapproachable, when she should be presented as imitable. She is more Mother than Queen.” (CJ [Carnet Jaune: Yellow Notebook of Sister Agnes] 21-8-3) As will be shown . . .  


34 – At about the time of her First Communion, Jesus had her understand that the only real glory is that which will last forever, and that the way to reach it is to become a saint.

“This aspiration may very well appear rash,” she said, “seeing how imperfect I was, and am, even now, after so many years of religious life; yet I still feel the same daring confidence that one day I shall become a great Saint. I am not trusting in my own merits, for I have none; but I trust in Him who is Virtue and Holiness itself. It is He alone who, pleased with my feeble efforts, will raise me to Himself, and, by clothing me with His merits, make me a Saint. At that time I did not realise that to become one it is necessary to suffer a great deal; but God soon revealed this secret to me.” (MSA 32,1)

The Servant of God was asked one day how she managed not to lose heart when feeling tried and forsaken. She replied, “I turn to God and all His saints and I thank them all the same; I think they want to see how far I will push my hope. It is not in vain that Job’s words sprang to mind: ‘Even if God were to kill me, I would still hope in Him!’ I admit that it took a long time before I reached this degree of surrender, but I’m there now. God took me and [42v] placed me there.” (CJ 7-7-3) The Mother Prioress put her in charge of the novices at 22 years of age. “From the moment I entered the sanctuary of souls, I saw at a glance that the task was beyond my strength. Throwing myself without delay into Our Lord’s arms, I imitated those tiny children, who, when they are frightened, hide their faces in their father’s shoulder, and I said,‘Dear Lord, You can see that I am too small to feed these little ones, but if through me You will give to each what is suitable, then fill my hands, and without leaving the shelter of Your arms, or even turning away, I will distribute Your treasures to the souls who come to me asking for food. Should they find it to their taste, I shall know that this is due not to me, but to You; and if, on the contrary, they find fault with its bitterness, I shall not be cast down, but try to persuade them that it comes from You, while taking good care to make no change to it.’ (MSC 22,1-2) Her hope was never disappointed. She did great good to the souls of her novices and said, “God gives everything that you hope to obtain from Him.” As will be shown . . .  

35 – Thérèse of the Child Jesus put as much hope in God’s justice as in His goodness, and strove to inspire the same sentiments in others. When, in the year of her death, she wrote to a missionary:

“I know one must be very pure to appear before the God of all Holiness, but I know, too, that the Lord is infinitely just; and it is this justice, which frightens so many souls, that is the object of my joy and confidence. To be just is not only to exercise severity in order to punish the guilty; it is also to recognise right intentions and to reward virtue. I expect as much from God’s justice as from His mer­cy. It is [43r] because He is just that ‘He is compassionate and filled with gentleness, slow to punish, and abundant in mercy,’ for He knows our frailty, He remembers we are only dust. As a father has tenderness for his children, so the Lord has compassion on us!” (Ps. 112:8,13,14) (LT 226) - As will be shown . . .  

36 – A heavenly flame constantly burned within the Servant of God. She lived but for God, whom she loved deeply and generously. Her childhood piety, her continual life in God’s presence, her assiduity to prayer, her appreciation of devotional practices, particularly her preoccupation with finding what could bring her closer to perfection, and her way of childlike surrender to God’s mercy all amply prove this. Even when very young, the Servant of God strove to correct her faults, and was anxious to know how successful her efforts had been; before going to sleep she would ask her sister Pauline, “Was I good today? Is God pleased with me? Will little angels flock about me?” (MSA 18,2) The reply was always, “Yes,” otherwise she would have spent the whole night weeping. - As will be shown . . .

37 – In Story of a Soul, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus relates a very nondescript event from her childhood; yet the spiritual meaning that she confers it demonstrates her charity and provides a summary of her entire life. The event was about sharing girlish trinkets. Each chose whatever they liked. Thérèse put out her hand and said, “I choose everything.” [43v] Her interpretation is as follows: “This childish incident was a forecast, so to speak, of my whole life. Later on, when the way of perfection was opened out before me, I realised that in order to become a Saint one must suffer much, always seek the most perfect path, and forget oneself. I also understood that there are many degrees of holiness, that each soul is free to respond to the calls of Our Lord, to do much or little for His Love - in a word, to choose amongst the sacrifices He asks. And then also, as in the days of my childhood, I cried out, ‘My God, I choose everything, I will not be a Saint by halves. I am not afraid of suffering for You, I only fear one thing, and that is to do my own will. Accept the offering of my will, for I choose all that You will.’” (MSA 10,1-2) – As will be shown . . .

38 – She adhered to this principle fully, and recounted as follows a retreat taken after her profession, during which her troubled soul was laid open to the preacher who led the teachings:

“The priest launched me full sail upon that ocean of confidence and love in which I had longed to advance, but so far had not dared. He told me that my faults did not pain God, and added, ‘At this moment I hold His place, and I assure you from Him that He is well pleased with your soul.’ How happy these consoling words made me! I had never been told before that it was possible for faults not to pain the Sacred Heart; this assurance filled me with joy and helped me to patiently bear the exile of this life. It was also the echo of my inmost thoughts. In truth I had long known that the Lord is more tender than a mother, and I have sounded the depths of more than one mother’s heart. I know that a mother is ever ready to forgive her child’s small thoughtless faults.” (MSA 80,2) - As will be shown . . .

[44r] 39 – Pure and loving, she continually dwelt in God’s presence. Whenever one of her sisters asked whether it ever left her, she seemed surprised and said, “Oh, no! I don’t think I’ve gone for more than three minutes without uniting myself to Him. It’s not difficult to do; it’s natural to think of someone one loves.” One day, she was sewing industriously and yet seemed lost in deep contemplation. Struck by the heavenly expression of her countenance, a Sister asked her, “What are you thinking about?” “I’m meditating on the ‘Our Father’,” she replied. “It’s so sweet to call God ‘Our Father’.” (CSG [Conseils et Souvenirs de Sr Geneviève: Counsels and Reminiscences] p77)

She manifested the sentiments that she bore in various poems. Here are three stanzas from that entitled “Living on Love”.

“Living on Love is not setting up one’s tent

At the top of Tabor.

It’s climbing Calvary with Jesus,

It’s looking at the Cross as a treasure!...

In Heaven I’m to live on joy.

Then trials will have fled forever,

But in exile, in suffering I want to live on Love.

Living on Love is keeping within oneself

A great treasure in an earthen vase.
My Beloved, my weakness is extreme.
Ah, I’m far from being an angel from heaven!…
But if I fall with each passing hour,
You come to my aid, lifting me up.
At each moment you give me your grace:
I live on Love.

Living on Love is wiping your Face,
It’s obtaining the pardon of sinners.
O God of Love! may they return to your grace,
[44v] And may they forever bless your Name…
Even in my heart the blasphemy resounds.
To efface it, I always want to sing:
‘I adore and love your Sacred Name.
I live on Love!…’

(PN 17 p667, 4-7-11)

- As will be shown . . .

40 – Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus spoke about God, His mercy and love so ardently and in words so deeply penetrating that the flame burning within her was clear for all to see. The same flame can be found in what she wrote; souls are hungry to read it; doing so increases their fervour, and this is the secret behind the extremely rapid circulation of Story of a Soul all around the world.

On the day of her profession, she carried the following lines on her heart: “Jesus, my Divine Spouse, grant that my baptismal robe be never sullied. Take me rather than suffer me here below to stain my soul with the slightest wilful fault. May I never seek, nor ever find but You alone! May all creatures be as nothing to me, and I nothing to them! May no earthly thing disturb my peace. O Jesus, I only beg of You peace for my soul - for Your peace, unending peace. Let me suffer even martyrdom for You, O Jesus. Give me martyrdom either of the body or of the soul, or even both at once!” (Prayer p958) – As will be shown . . .

41 – “I do not even distress myself,” said the Servant of God, “at my being so weak: Remembering that ‘Charity covers a multitude of sins,’ I draw from this rich mine which Our Saviour has opened to us in the Gospels. I search the [45r] depths of His adorable words, and cry out with David, ‘I have run in the way of Your commandments since You enlarged my heart.’[34] And charity alone can make wide the heart. O Jesus! Since its sweet flame consumes my heart, I run with delight in the way of Your New Commandment, and I desire to run therein until that blessed day when, with Your company of Virgins, I shall follow You through Your boundless Realm, singing Your New Canticle -The Canticle of LOVE.” (MSC 15,1 16,2)

“O Heart of Jesus, treasure of tenderness,

You Yourself are my happiness, my only hope.

You who knew how to charm my tender youth,

Stay near me till the last night.

Lord, to you alone I’ve given my life,

And all my desires are well known to you.

It’s in your ever-infinite goodness

That I want to lose myself, O Heart of Jesus!” (PN 23 p690)

42 – Approximately two years prior to her death, the Servant of God offered herself as a victim to God’s merciful love in a prayer inspired by her immense love for Him. She pronounced it on 9th June 1895, on the Feast of the Holy Trinity.

This prayer merits to be quoted in full here despite its length:

Offering of myself as a Victim of Holocaust to God’s Merciful Love

This prayer was found after the death of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus in the book of the Holy Gospels that she carried night and day against her heart.

O My God! Most Blessed Trinity, I desire toLoveYou and make YouLoved, to work for the glory of Holy Church by [45v] saving souls on earth and liberating those suffering in purgatory. I desire to accomplish Your will perfectly and to reach the degree of glory You have prepared for me in Your Kingdom. I desire, in a word, to be a saint, but I feel my helplessness and I beg You, O my God! to be Yourself mySanctity!

Since You loved me so much as to give me Your only Son as my [210v] Saviour and my Spouse, the infinite treasures of His merits are mine. I offer them to You with gladness, begging You to look upon me only in the Face of Jesus and in His heart burning withLove.

I offer You, too, all the merits of the saints (in heaven and on earth), their acts ofLove, and those of the holy angels. Finally, I offer You,O Blessed Trinity!theLoveand merits of theBlessed Virgin, my dear Mother.It is to her I abandon my offering, begging her to present it to You. Her Divine Son, myBelovedSpouse, told us in the days of His mortal life,“Whatever you ask of the Father in my name He will give to you!” (Jn 16:23)I am certain, then, that You will grant my desires; I know, O my God! thatthe more You want to give, the more You make us desire.I feel in my heart immense desires and it is with confidence I ask You to come and take possession of my soul. Ah! I cannot receive Holy Communion as often as I desire, but, Lord, are You notall-powerful?Remain in me as in a tabernacle and never separate Yourself from Your little victim.

I want to console You for the ingratitude of the wicked, and I beg of You to take away my freedom to displease You. If through weakness I sometimes fall, may YourDivine Glancecleanse my soul immediately, consuming all my imperfections like the fire that transforms everything into itself.

[46r] I thank You, O my God! for all the graces You have granted me, especially the grace of making me pass through the crucible of suffering. It is with joy that I shall contemplate You on the Last Day carrying the sceptre of Your Cross. Since You deigned to give me a share in this very precious Cross, I hope in heaven to resemble You and to see shining in my glorified body the sacred stigmata of Your Passion.

After earth’s Exile, I hope to go and enjoy You in the Fatherland, but I do not want to lay up merits for heaven. I want to work for YourLove alonewith the one purpose of pleasing You, consoling Your Sacred Heart, and saving souls who will love You eternally. In the evening of this life, I shall appear before You with empty hands, for I do not ask You, Lord, to count my works. All our justice is stained in Your eyes (Is. 64:5). I wish, then, to be clothed in Your ownJusticeand to receive from YourLovethe eternal possession ofYourself.I want no otherThrone, no other Crown but You, my Beloved!

Time is nothing in Your eyes, and a single day is like a thousand years (Ps. 89:4). You can, then, in one instant prepare me to appear before You.

In order to live in one single act of perfect Love, I OFFER MYSELF AS A VICTIM OF HOLOCAUST TO YOUR MERCIFUL LOVE, asking You to consume me incessantly, allowing the waves ofinfinite tendernessshut up within You to overflow into my soul, and that thus I may become amartyrof YourLove,O my God! May this martyrdom, after having prepared me to appear before You, finally cause me to die and may my soul take its flight without delay into the eternal embrace ofYour Merciful Love.

I want, O myBeloved,at each beat of my [46v] heart to renew this offering to You an infinite number of times until, the shadows having disappeared (Sg 4:6), I may be able to tell You of myLovein anEternal Face to Face!

Marie, Francoise, Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, unworthy Carmelite religious.

This 9th day of June, Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, In the year of grace, 1895.” [Prayer 6 p962-964]

43 – The more the Servant of God grew in charity, the more she also followed what she called ‘the way of childlike surrender’, surrender being the delicious fruit of love, according to Saint Augustine. She sang:

“My heaven it is always beneath His eye to rest.

To call Him Father dear, and be His loving child.

Safe shielded in His arms, no storm my soul can fear;

Complete abandonment my only law shall be.

Oh, this is heaven for me!” (PN 32 p715)

Her last words, uttered with her eyes fixed on the crucifix from her cell in the last throes of agony, summarise her entire life: “Oh, I love Him! . . . My God, I love . . . you.” (CJ 30th Sept. P1145)

As will be shown . . .

44 – Her love for God gave her a zeal for the salvation of souls. She was particularly united in prayer with two missionaries and offered up her merits in order to help their ministry. She explained her thinking as follows: “since the zeal of a Carmelite ought to embrace the whole world, I hope, with God’s help, to be of use to more than two missionaries. I pray for them all, not forgetting our Priests at home, whose ministry is quite as difficult as that of the missionary preaching to [47r] the heathen. . . . In a word, I wish to be a true daughter of the Church, like our holy Mother St Teresa, and pray for all the intentions of Christ’s Vicar. That is the one great aim of my life.” (MSC 33,2)

This thirst for souls took hold of her very young; in 1889, at 16 years of age and still a novice, she wrote in a letter to her Sister, “Céline, during the short moments that remain to us, let us save souls, especially the souls of priests. I feel that our Spouse is asking this of us, and wishes me to tell you this. There is only one thing to do here below: love Jesus and save souls who will love Him. Let us seize the smallest opportunity to rejoice in Him, let us refuse Him nothing. He is in such need of love!” (LT 94 p397) In the solemn examination of conscience that preceded her Profession, she declared, “I have come to save souls and particularly to pray for priests.” (MSA 69,2) As will be shown . . .

45 – She offered up the numerous sacrifices that she made daily, her spiritual dryness and her bodily suffering for the salvation of souls. This heart-quickening desire often inspired her words and hymns. She addressed the following song to Jesus:

“Remember the angels’ feast,

Remember Heaven’s harmony

And the joy of the sublime hosts

When a sinner raises his eyes to You.

Oh! I want to increase that great joy.

Jesus, I want to pray unceasingly for sinners.

That I came to Carmel

To fill your beautiful Heaven,

Remember . . .

Remember the ever gentle Flame

Which You wanted to enkindle in hearts.

You put this Fire of Heaven in my soul.

[47v] I also want to spread its intense heat.

One weak spark, O mystery of life,

Enough to light a huge fire.

How I want, O my God,

To carry Your Fire far and wide,

Remember . . .” (PN 24, 16-17)


In the Servant of God’s autobiography Story of a Soul, this zeal is expressed in enthusiastic terms:

“To be Your Spouse, O my Jesus, to be a daughter of Carmel, and by my union with You to be the mother of souls, should not all this content me? And yet other vocations make themselves felt—I feel called to the Priesthood and to the Apostolate—I would be a Martyr, a Doctor of the Church. I should like to accomplish the most heroic deeds— the spirit of the Crusader burns within me, and I long to die on the field of battle in defence of Holy Church. The vocation of a Priest! With what love, my Jesus, would I bear You in my hand, when my words brought You down from Heaven! With what love would I give You to souls! And yet, while longing to be a Priest, I admire and envy the humility of St Francis of Assisi, and am drawn to imitate him by refusing the sublime dignity of the Priesthood. How to reconcile these opposite tendencies? Like the Prophets and Doctors, I would be a light unto souls, I would travel to every land to preach Your name, O my Beloved, and raise on heathen soil the glorious standard of Your Cross. One mission alone would not satisfy my longings. I would spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth, even to the most distant isles. I would be a Missionary, not for a few years only, but, were it possible, from the beginning of the world till the consummation of time.  

[48r] Above all, I thirst for the Martyr’s crown. It was the desire of my earliest days, and the desire has deepened with the years passed in the Carmel's narrow cell. But this too is folly, since I do not sigh for one torment; I need them all to slake my thirst. Like You, O Adorable Spouse, I would be scourged, I would be crucified! I would be flayed like St Bartholomew, plunged into boiling oil like St John, or, like St Ignatius of Antioch, ground by the teeth of wild beasts into a bread worthy of God. [12] With St Agnes and St Cecilia I would offer my neck to the sword of the executioner, and like Joan of Arc I would murmur the name of Jesus at the stake.” (MSB 2,2 -3,1) – As will be shown . . .

46 – These desires failed to content the Servant of God. Her zeal would not expire with her life. She wished to spend her heaven doing good on earth. To one of her missionary brothers, she wrote, “What attracts me to the heavenly homeland is the Lord’s call, the hope of finally loving Him as I have desired to love Him, and the thought that I’ll be able to make Him loved by a multitude of souls who will bless Him eternally.” (LT 254, p610)

On another occasion, she wrote, “I do not intend to remain inactive in heaven. My desire is to continue working for the Church and for souls. I am asking God for this and I am certain that He will hear me. You see that, though I am leaving the battlefield, it is not with the selfish desire of taking my rest.” (LT 254) – As will be shown . . .

47 – Very young, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus demonstrated a touching charity for the poor; it was evident that she loved them. When, on outings, the family [48v] would come across poor people, it was always Thérèse who would take them alms. She looked upon them with enormous tenderness and respect. At the age of ten, she insisted that she go and nurse a poor woman in her neighbourhood who was dying and had nobody to help her. She would also catechise young children. – As will be shown . . .

48 – Once in the Carmel, the Servant of God would seek every opportunity to assist her Sisters by performing hundreds of little hidden acts of virtue, and as one of the few healthy Sisters remaining when a terrible influenza epidemic struck the Carmel of Lisieux, she redoubled her efforts to nurse the sick and the dying. She constantly strove to fathom what Our Lord calls His New Commandment, in order to render her charity more spiritual and to better her practice of it. “Jesus revealed to me this Will when at the Last Supper He gave His New Commandment in telling His Apostles to love one another as He had loved them. I set myself to find out how He had loved His Apostles; and I saw that it was not for their natural qualities, for they were ignorant men, full of earthly ideas. And yet He called them His Friends, His Brethren; He desired to see them near Him in the Kingdom of His Father, and in order to admit them to this Kingdom He willed to die on the Cross, saying, ‘There is no greater love than a man laying down his life for his friends.’ As I meditated on these Divine words, I saw how imperfect was the love I bore my Sisters. I understood that I did not love them as Our Lord loves them. I know now that true charity consists in bearing all our neighbours’ defects—not being surprised at their weakness, but edified at their smallest virtues. Above all I know that charity must not remain shut up in the heart, for ‘No man lights a [49r] candle and puts it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it brings light to all those in the house.’It seems to me, dear Mother, this candle represents that charity which enlightens and gladdens, not only those who are dear to us, but all those in the house.” (MSC 11,2-12,1) And she gave herself over to practising this charity. – As will be shown . . .

49 – She went on to say, “Yes, I know when I show charity to others, it is simply Jesus acting in me, and the more closely I am united to Him, the more dearly I love my Sisters. If I wish to increase this love in my heart, and the devil tries to bring before me the defects of a Sister, I hasten to look for her virtues, her good motives; I call to mind that though I may have seen her fall once, no doubt she has gained many victories over herself, which in her humility she conceals. It is even possible that what seems to me a fault, may very likely, on account of her good intention, be an act of virtue. I have no difficulty in persuading myself of this, because I have had the same experience. One day, during recreation, the portress came to ask for a Sister to help her. I had a childish longing to do this work, and it happened that I was chosen. I therefore began to fold up our needlework, but so slowly that my neighbour, who I knew would like to take my place, was ready before me. The Sister who had asked for help, seeing how deliberate I was, said laughingly, ‘I thought you would not add this pearl to your crown, you are being too slow,’ and all the Community thought I had yielded to natural reluctance.” (MSC 12,2-13,1) – As will be shown . . .

50 – She relates how she overcame natural dislike as follows:

[49v] “A holy nun of our community annoyed me in all that she did; the devil must have had something to do with it, and it was undoubtedly he who made me see in her so many disagreeable points. I did not want to yield to my natural antipathy, for I remembered that charity ought to betray itself in deeds, and not exist merely in feelings, so for this Sister I strove to do all I would do for the one I loved most. Every time I met her I prayed for her, and offered to God her virtues and merits. I felt that this was very pleasing to Our Lord, for there is no artist who is not gratified when his works are praised, and the Divine Artist of souls is pleased when we do not stop at the exterior, but, penetrating to the inner sanctuary He has chosen, admire its beauty. I did not rest satisfied with praying for this Sister, who gave me such occasions for self-mastery, I tried to render her as many services as I could, and when tempted to answer her sharply, I made haste to smile and change the subject, for the Imitation says, ‘It is more profitable to leave everyone to his way of thinking than to give way to contentious discourses.’ (Bk 3, ch. 44, 1) And sometimes when the temptation was very severe, I would run like a deserter from the battlefield . . .One day she said to me with a beaming face, ‘My dear Sister Thérèse, tell me what attraction you find in me, for whenever we meet, you greet me with such a sweet smile.’Ah! What attracted me was Jesus hidden in the depths of her soul—Jesus who makes sweet even that which is most bitter.” (MSC 13,2-14,1) As will be shown . . .

[50r] 51 – In her relations with the nuns of her community, she obliged herself to refrain from seeking the company of her three blood sisters, despite her deep affection for them, in order that the charity towards her religious family would not suffer because of it. She said:

“What feast can I offer my Sisters but a spiritual one of sweet and joyful charity! I know none other, and I wish to imitate St Paul, who rejoiced with those who rejoiced. It is true that he wept with those who wept, and at my feast, too, the tears must sometimes fall, still I shall always try to change them into smiles, for ‘God loves a cheerful giver.’” (MSC 28,2)

As will be shown . . .

52 – She often had to put up a fight for it was a real struggle to subdue her nature. She related several examples, including this one: “For a long time my place at meditation was near a Sister who fidgeted continually, either with her Rosary, or something else; possibly, as I am very quick of hearing, I alone heard her, but I cannot tell you how much it tried me. I should have liked to turn round, and by looking at the offender, make her stop the noise; but in my heart I knew that I ought to patiently bear it, both for the love of God and to avoid giving pain.” (MSC 30,1-2) Despite her sensitive nature, the Servant of God retained her mildness and charitable ways. Were someone to cause her pain, she was never seen to react coldly; on the contrary, she would redouble her efforts to be considerate and thoughtful. – As will be shown . . .

[50v] 53 – She demonstrated great daughterly care and attention to a certain Lay Sister, Sister Saint-Pierre, whose advanced age and growing frailty had rendered rather demanding. This ministry of charity lasted a considerable length of time and found a place in Story of a Soul: “I remember an act of charity with which God inspired me while I was still a novice, and this act, though seemingly small, has been rewarded even in this life by Our Heavenly Father, ‘Who sees in secret.’Shortly before Sister Saint- Pierre became quite bedridden, it was necessary every evening, at ten minutes to six, for someone to leave meditation and take her to the refectory. It cost me a good deal to offer my services, for I knew the difficulty, or I should say the impossibility, of pleasing the poor invalid. But I did not want to lose such a good opportunity, for I recalled Our Lord's words: ‘That which you have done for the least of these my brethren, you have done for Me.’ (Mat. 25, 40) I therefore humbly offered my assistance. It was not without difficulty that I induced her to accept it, but after considerable persuasion I succeeded. Every evening, when I saw her shake her sand-glass, I understood that she meant, ‘Let us go!’ Summoning up all my courage I rose, and the ceremony began. First of all, her stool had to be moved and carried in a particular way, and on no account must there be any hurry. The solemn procession ensued. I had to follow the good Sister, supporting her around the waist; I did it as gently as possible, but if by some mischance she stumbled, she imagined I had not a firm hold, and that she was going to fall. ‘You are going too fast,’ she would say, ‘I shall fall and hurt myself!’ Then when I tried to [51r] lead her more slowly: ‘Come quicker . . . I cannot feel you . . . you are letting me go! I was right when I said you were too young to take care of me.’ When we reached the refectory without further mishap, more troubles were in store. I had to settle my poor invalid in her place, taking great pains not to hurt her. Then I had to turn back her sleeves, always according to her own specific rubric, and after that I was allowed to go. But I soon noticed that she found it very difficult to cut her bread, so I did not leave her till I had performed this last service. She was much touched by this attention on my part, for she had not expressed any wish on the subject; it was by this unsought-for kindness that I gained her entire confidence, and chiefly because—as I learnt later—at the end of my humble task I bestowed upon her my sweetest smile.” (MSC 28,2-29,2)

The poor invalid insisted on recounting these facts in detail herself, to convey to the Carmel her admiration for the young nun’s unfailing charity. – As will be shown . . .

54 – When Thérèse of the Child Jesus was in charge of the novices, she incessantly showed them devoted charity, giving them all her time, and redoubling her attentions and sacrifices for the sake of their progress. As her death grew near, she showed a desire to continue her works of charity, saying, “I wish to spend my heaven doing good on earth,” (CJ 17-7) which she does every day and in many ways. – As will be shown . . .

55 – Her charity extended to souls in purgatory and she always demonstrated great zeal for helping them. She performed a heroic act in their favour by giving them all that she would earn in terms of merits during her lifetime, as well as the prayers [51v] that would be said for her after her death. She was very eager to gain indulgences, and made the Blessed Virgin the dispenser of her wealth whether it came from her indulgences or her own sacrifices. She would have liked, on the day of her Profession, to have been able to save all souls held in purgatory. Throughout her life she worked to comfort them by practising her Way of the Cross, reciting the prayer “O good and most sweet Jesus” and saying the six Our Fathers and Hail Marys of the Scapular of the Immaculate Conception, which she continued praying into the last days of her life. – As will be shown . . .  


56 – Very young, the Servant of God practised the virtue of prudence in her personal conduct and in her direction of the novices.

Answering God’s call without delay and entering the Cloisters at 15 years of age required some delicate negotiating, and the circumstances proved particularly difficult. Thérèse put her complete trust in the Holy Spirit, begged the apostles to protect her and chose Pentecost Sunday to tell her father of her desire. Once his consent obtained, she took up the matter with the ecclesiastical superior and the Mothers of the Carmel, and, despite her shyness, with His Lordship the Bishop of Bayeux. Prayer alone prevented her from letting the numerous oppositions strewing her path dash her spirits. She said, “The Divine Call was becoming so insistent, had it been necessary for me to go through fire, I would have thrown myself into it to follow my Divine Master.” (MSA 49,1) – As will be shown . . .

57 – At last her personal appeal and her pleas to the Sovereign Pontiff himself, which she made in the emotional turmoil that any person let alone a 14 [52r] year old child would feel at a first solemn audience with Pope Leo XIII, demonstrates the spiritual prudence with which she acted in these difficulties in order to answer God’s insistent call. – As will be shown . . .

58 – She was prudent well beyond her years, as indicates this letter from the 15 year old novice to her cousin Marie Guérin, who would later follow her to the Carmel:

Before you confided in me, [as to some scruples] I felt you were suffering, and my heart was one with yours. Since you have the humility to ask advice of your little Thérèse, this is what she thinks: you have grieved me greatly by abstaining from Holy Communion, because you have grieved Our Lord. The devil must be very cunning to deceive a soul in this way. Do you not know, dear Marie, that by acting thus you help him to accomplish his end? The treacherous creature knows quite well that when a soul is striving to belong wholly to God he cannot cause her to sin, so he merely tries to persuade her that she has sinned. This is a considerable gain, but not enough to satisfy his hatred, so he aims at something more, and tries to shut out Jesus from a tabernacle which Jesus covets. Unable to enter this sanctuary himself, he wishes that at least it remain empty and without its God. Alas, what will become of that poor little heart? When the devil has succeeded in keeping a soul from Holy Communion he has gained all his ends . . . while Jesus weeps! . . . Remember, little Marie, that sweet Jesus is there in the Tabernacle expressly for you and you alone. Remember that He burns with the desire to enter your heart. Do not listen to the devil. Mock him, and go without fear to receive Jesus, the God of peace and of love. ‘Thérèse thinks all this’—you say—‘because she does not know my difficulties.’ She does know, and knows them well; she understands everything, and she tells you confidently that you can go without fear to receive your only [52v] true Friend. She, too, has passed through the martyrdom of scruples, but Jesus gave her the grace to receive the Blessed Sacrament always, even when she imagined she had committed great sins. I assure you I have found that this is the only means of ridding oneself of the devil. When he sees that he is wasting his time he leaves us in peace. In truth it is impossible for a heart ‘which finds rest only in contemplation of the Tabernacle’—and yours is such, you tell me—to so far offend Our Lord as not to be able to receive Him . . . What does offend Jesus, what wounds Him to the Heart, is want of confidence. Pray much that the best portion of your life may not be overshadowed by idle fears. We have only life's brief moments to spend for the Glory of God, and well does the devil know it. This is why he employs every ruse to make us consume them in useless labour. Dear sister, go often to Holy Communion, go very often—that is your one remedy.” LT 92 p392-394

While the Servant of God replied so wisely to her cousin, she herself behaved with no less prudence when following an instruction given to her by her confessor, believing he spoke the word of God: “My child, may Our Lord always be your Superior and your Novice Master.” (MSA 70,1) She adhered, without causing anyone pain and always showing every mark of deference due. – As will be shown . . .

59 – Sister Thérèse’s precocious maturity and prudence were so evident that, at the age of twenty-two, the Mother Prioress of the Carmel tasked her with instructing and training the novices. Sister Thérèse wrote, “The knowledge that it was impossible to do anything by myself rendered my task easier. My one inner [53r] occupation was to unite myself more and more closely to God, knowing that the rest would be given to me over and above.” (MSC 22,2) She went on to explain the difficulty of her ministry: “From afar it seems so easy to do good to souls, to teach them to love God more, and to model them according to one’s own ideas. But, when we look closer, we quickly feel that without God’s help this is quite as impossible as to bring back the sun once it has set. We must forget ourselves, and put aside our tastes and ideas, and guide souls not by our own way, but along the path which Our Lord points out. Even this is not the most difficult part; what costs me more than all things is having to observe their faults, their slightest imperfections, and wage war against them.Unhappily for me—I was going to say, but that would be cowardly, so I will say—happily for my Sisters, ever since I placed myself in the Arms of Jesus I have been like a watchman on the look-out for the enemy from the highest turret of a fortified castle. Nothing escapes my vigilance; indeed, I am sometimes surprised at my own clear-sightedness, and I find the Prophet Jonah very excusable in taking flight rather than announcing the ruin of Nineveh.

            Rather than make one single reproach, I would prefer to receive a thousand, yet I feel it is necessary that the task cause me pain, for if I spoke only through natural impulse, then the soul in fault would not understand its defects and would simply think, ‘This Sister is displeased, and her displeasure falls on me although I am full of the best intentions.’” (MSC 22,2-23,1) – As will be shown . . .

60 – Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus’ prudence was entirely spiritual; speaking to the Mother Prioress about her method of proceeding with the novices, she said, [53v] “Mother, in this, as in all else, I must practise sacrifice and self-denial. Even in the matter of writing a letter, I feel that it will produce no fruit unless I am disinclined to write, and only do so from obedience. When conversing with a novice I am watchful to mortify myself, and I avoid asking questions which would satisfy my curiosity. If she begins to speak on an interesting subject, and, leaving it unfinished, passes on to another that wearies me, I take care not to remind her of the interruption, for it seems to me that no good can come of self-seeking.” (MSC 32,2) – As will be shown . . .

61 – Her prudence allied compassionate goodness with firmness. To help a novice who could not maintain her eyes lowered in the refectory, as was the rule, she composed the following prayer, asking God to bestow upon herself the grace that only the novice needed: “Jesus, your little brides take the resolution to keep their eyes lowered in the refectory in order to honour and to imitate the example that You gave them when You were in Herod’s presence. When that impious ruler mocked You, O Infinite Beauty, not one complaint fell from your divine lips. You did not even deign to rest Your adorable eyes on him. Oh! divine Jesus, doubtless Herod did not deserve a look from You, but we, Your brides, want to attract Your divine gaze towards us. We ask You to reward us with a look of love every time we deprive ourselves of raising our eyes and we ask You not to refuse us this gentle look even when we fall, since we will humble ourselves before you.” (Prayer 3, p358) – As will be shown . . .

62 – The Servant of God replied to questions put to her with precision and [54r] often with charming graciousness, as proves this event related by one of her novices: “I intended to deprive myself of taking Holy Communion for an infidelity that had caused her much sorrow, and which I regretted bitterly. I set out my intention to her in a note, to which she replied, ‘Little Flower cherished by Jesus, it is amply sufficient that by the humiliation of your soul, your roots eat of the earth. . . You must open a little, or rather lift up high your corolla so that the Bread of Angels may come as a divine dew to strengthen you and give you all that is wanting in you. Good-night, little flower and ask of Jesus that all the prayers offered for my recovery might serve to augment the fire that must consume me.” (CSG p290)             

Another novice reported, “In the infirmary, we could barely wait for her to finish her thanksgiving before speaking to her and asking her for advice. She was saddened by this at first and gently scolded us. Then afterwards she let us go ahead, saying, ‘I realise that I ought not to hope to have more rest than Our Lord. When he fled into the wilderness after preaching, the people followed him and disturbed his peace. Come to me as often as you please. I am to die, weapons in hand, and until then, use the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Eph. 6:17)

- CSG p291 – As will be shown . . .

63 – The ascendancy of her direction came not from a purely human prudence, but from her example, self-denial, and love for souls. Her union with God was continuous. She looked to Him continually and He constantly guided her in the difficult [54v] situations that can occur in everyday life, and which she was not spared. - As will be shown . . .


64 – The Servant of God continually practised the virtue of justice towards God and the saints through giving them worship. Very young, she loved pious ceremonies and the sacraments of penitence and of the Eucharist. At the Carmel, she had the greatest devotion for the Divine Office. At the end of her life, she said as follows:

I must admit that the Office was both my hap­piness and my martyrdom at once, because I had a great desire to recite it well, without making any mistakes. I don’t believe that anyone could have had a greater desire than I to recite the Office perfectly and to be present in the Choir. How proud I was when I was hebdomadarian for the recitation of the Divine Office! I would recite the prayers loudly in the middle of the Choir! I was proud because I thought how the priest said the same prayers at Mass, and like him, I had the right to pray aloud before the Blessed Sacrament.” (CJ 6-8) When she was sick, and dispensed from reciting the Divine Office, she wanted to recite the Office for the Dead for her deceased Sisters and ceased only when ordered to abstain. – As will be shown . . .

65 – Owing Our Lady of Victories for her recovery from her very distressing childhood illness, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus always had a very filial devotion towards Mary and a veneration for the statue before which she had been healed. She joyfully recited the Act of Consecration to Mary on the day of her First Communion on behalf of her fellow communicants. Her wish was to become a Child of Mary at the Benedictine Abbey of Lisieux. [55r] Reciting the rosary, the Memorare and prayers to the Blessed Virgin every morning were practices which always remained dear to her and she placed the writing of her manuscript under the special protection of the Mother of God. The first of her hymns was written in her honour and the last poem to spring from her heart was “Why I love You, O Mary!” (PN 54 p750) – As will be shown . . .

66 – The Servant of God had a very trusting devotion toward Saint Joseph. His statue held pride of place in her bedroom as a child and, every day, she would recite the prayer “O Saint Joseph, father and protector of virgins . . .” At the Carmel, the example of St Teresa increased this devotion and her trust. She prayed to her specifically for a greater participation in the Holy Eucharist at a time when taking Holy Communion had become more difficult at the Carmel of Lisieux; hence she welcomed Leo XIII’s liberating decree. It is needless to say that she venerated Saint Teresa, her holy Mother and patron saint, and Saint John of the Cross. – As will be shown . . .

67 – She honoured the heavenly angels and her guardian angel. She nourished her piety with the examples of the apostles and saints and would very judiciously refer to them in her instructions. In a letter to her sister Céline on 30th October 1893, she wrote:

“Dear little sister,

You say that you are feeling your weakness; this is a grace. Jesus is the one placing in your soul sentiments of self-distrust. If you always remain faithful [55v] in pleasing Him in little things He will find Himself obliged to help you in great things. The apostles laboured all night without Our Lord and they caught no fish, but their work was pleasing to Jesus. He wished to prove to them that He alone can give us something; He willed that the apostles humble themselves. ‘Children,’ he said to them, ‘have you nothing to eat?’ ‘Lord,’ St Peter confessed, ‘we have fished all night and have caught nothing.’ This was enough to move Jesus to compassion. Perhaps if the apostle had caught a few little fish, Jesus would not have performed the miracle, but he had nothing, so Jesus soon filled his net until it almost broke. This is the character of Jesus: He gives as God, but He wills humility of heart.” (LT 161)

She particularly venerated Saint Agnes and two Servants of God who have been beatified since her death: Blessed Joan of Arc and Blessed Théophane Vénard. She dedicated many of her songs to Joan of Arc and prayed most ardently for her beatification. She found the letters of Théophane Vénard enchanting, admiring his missionary zeal and the martyr’s generosity in suffering. - As will be shown . . .

68 – When the Servant of God held the duty of sacristan, her spirit of piety could be seen in her care for the dignity of the vestments, her religious respect for the vessels and linens, and in her enthusiasm for decorating flowers around the altar and a statue of the Child Jesus that had been entrusted to her. – As will be shown . . .


The Servant of God always practised justice through her lifelong faithfulness to her three religious vows.


69 - “Whilst I was a postulant” she said, “I liked to have nice things to use and to find everything needful ready to hand.Jesus bore with me patiently, for He does not reveal everything simultaneously.Since my Habit Reception I had received abundant lights on religious perfection, chiefly concerning the vow of poverty.” (MSA 74,1)

When a nun had inadvertently taken her lantern one evening, she remained in the dark, considering herself fortunate to have been deprived of something she needed. She sought the plainest, least practical objects for her use. Concerning her food, she never showed any disappointment when served leftovers or dishes that her stomach had trouble digesting. These sacrifices cost her deeply, but she constantly practised self-denial. – As will be shown . . .

70 – The Servant of God also fought to conquer her impatience when objects she used were taken. She wrote:

“While it is difficult to give to whomsoever asks, it is far more difficult to let what belongs to us be taken without asking for it back. Dear Mother, I say this is hard, but I should rather say that it seems hard, for ‘The yoke of the Lord is sweet and His burden light.’ And when we submit to that yoke, we at once feel its sweetness.I have said Jesus does not wish me to ask back for what is my [56v] own. This ought to seem quite easy, for, in reality, nothing is mine. I ought, then, to be glad when an occasion arises which brings home to me the poverty to which I am vowed. I used to think myself completely detached, but since Our Lord's words have become clear, I see that I am indeed very imperfect. For instance, when starting to paint, if I find the brushes in disorder, and a ruler or penknife gone, I feel inclined to lose patience, and have to keep a firm hold over myself not to betray my feelings.

Of course I may ask for these needful things, and if I do so humbly I am not disobeying Our Lord's command. I am then like the poor who hold out their hands for the necessaries of life.” (MSC 16,1-2) – As will be shown . . .

71 – She extended this practice to spiritual goods in a very meritorious fashion:

“When the Divine Master tells me to give to whomsoever asks of me, and to let what is mine be taken without asking for it back, it seems to me that He speaks not only of earthly goods, but also of heavenly


72 – Very young, the Servant of God was remarked upon for her love of purity. It was not without difficulty that she was persuaded to follow the treatments prescribed for her illness, such as showering, such was her fear of soiling her purity. As a Carmelite, this fine virtue shone through in all aspects of her life and she exalted it in her hymns and always honoured Saint Agnes [57v] with particular veneration. She wrote the following hymn:

“Canticle of Saint Agnes:

Christ is my Love, He is my whole life.

He is the Fiancé who alone delights my eyes.

Thus I already hear the melodious sounds

Of his sweet harmony.

His Empire is Heaven, his nature is divine.

He chose the Immaculate Virgin for his Mother.

His Father is the true God who has no origin.

He is pure Spirit....

When I love Christ and when I touch him,

My heart becomes purer, I am even more chaste. The kiss of his mouth has given me the treasure of virginity.

He has already put His sign on my forehead

So that no lover dare come near me.

I feel sustained by the divine grace

Of my Loving King.” (PN 26 p704)

If she wrote to a novice for her Profession that chastity would become her weapon in life, it was because she herself armed herself with this weapon every day.

Chastity makes me the sister of angels,

Of those pure, victorious Spirits.

 One day I hope to fly in their armies,

But during this exile I must fight like them.

I must fight with no rest or truce

For my Spouse, the Lord of hosts,

Chastity is the celestial sword

That can conquer hearts for him.

[58r] Chastity is my invincible armour.

My enemies are vanquished by it. 

By it I become, O inexpressible joy!

Jesus' Spouse! (PN 48 p740)

The Servant of God was not scrupulous in her direction of the novices. For her, the habit of always remaining in God’s presence made her act with immense reserve. This angel of purity confided in one of her sisters that she had never been tempted against this virtue. – As will be shown.


73 – Thérèse of the Child Jesus strove to practise obedience and to conquer her character. Any number of examples from her childhood could illustrate this. Once a nun, she obeyed in a spirit of faith all those in a position to give her orders. She was inclined to do this in all circumstances and said to her superior:

“Dear Mother, you are the compass Jesus has given me to direct me safely to the Eternal Shore. I find it most sweet to fix my eyes upon you, and then do the Will of my Lord. By allowing me to suffer these temptations against Faith, He has greatly increased my spirit of Faith, which makes me see Him living in your soul, and through you communicating His holy commands. I am well aware that you lighten the burden of obedience for me, but deep in my heart I feel that my attitude would not change, nor would my filial affection grow less, were you to treat me with severity: and this because I should still see the Will of God manifesting itself in another way for the greater good of my soul.” (MSC 11,1-2) – As will be shown . . .

[58v] 74 – Her obedience was such that she would defer to the request of any Sister who gave her an instruction and, even if it concerned something of minimal importance, she would henceforth conform to it without ever transgressing it. When sick, her nurse advised her to take a fifteen minute walk in the garden every day. She took this piece of advice as an order. One afternoon, seeing her walking with great difficulty, one nun said to her, “You would do better to rest. Walking cannot do you any good in your state. You are doing nothing but exhausting yourself!” “That is true,” she replied, “but do you know what gives me strength? Well, I’m walking for a missionary. Out there, far away, a missionary is perhaps exhausted in his ministerial endeavours, and I’m offering my fatigue up to God that his might be lessened.” (DE [Last Conversations] May) – As will be shown . . .

75 – She expressed her sentiments on obedience in the following hymn:

“The arrogant angel in the midst of light

Cried out, ‘I shall not obey!’

As for me, I cry out in the night of this life,

‘Here below I always want to obey.’

I sense springing up within me a holy audacity.

I face the fury of all hell.

Obedience is my strong Breastplate

And the Shield of my heart.

Lord God of Hosts, I want no other glory

Than to submit my will in everything.

Since the Obedient One will tell of his victories

For all Eternity.” (PN 48, p740)


76 – Christian strength can be seen to play a part in the Servant of God’s everyday life if it is studied in detail. Although passionate and sensitive in nature, she succeeded in controlling herself and remaining even-tempered and considerate, even amid trials and suffering.  

The day I was confirmed,” she wrote, “I was given the strength to bear suffering, which I was to need, for the martyrdom of my soul was soon to commence.” (MSA 36,2) She appealed to the Holy Spirit to support her in the many stages and apparent failures that preceded her admittance to the Carmel. When the moment came for her to part from her family, she could hear only sobs but did not shed a tear. “However,” she said, “as I led the way to the cloister door my heart beat so violently that I wondered if I were going to die. Oh, the agony of that moment! One must have experienced it in order to understand. I embraced all my dear ones and knelt for my Father's blessing. He, too, knelt down and blessed me through his tears.” (MSA 69,1) Thérèse demonstrated heroic strength in remaining at peace as she embarked upon her new life despite her young age and the agony she felt. – As will be shown . . .  

77 – The Servant of God’s strength shone through in her energy for bearing, right from the beginning, all the austerities of the rule, the spiritual droughts and the severity that presided over her initial training. She wrote:

“I found religious life just what I expected, and sacrifice was never a matter of surprise. Yet you know well that from the beginning my way was strewn with thorns rather than with roses. In the first place, my soul had for its daily food the bread [59v] of spiritual dryness. Then, too, dear Mother, Our Lord allowed you, unconsciously, to treat me very severely. You found fault with me whenever you met me. I remember once I had left a cobweb in the cloister, and you said to me before the whole community, ‘It is easy to see that our cloisters are swept by a child of fifteen. It is disgraceful! Go and sweep away that cobweb, and be more careful in future.’On the rare occasions when I spent an hour with you for spiritual direction, you seemed to be scolding me nearly all the time, and what pained me most of all was that I did not see how to correct my faults: for instance, my slow ways and want of thoroughness in my duties, faults which you were careful to point out.” (MSA 69,2) – As will be shown . . .

78 – Her strength was evident from the generous way in which she bore these sacrifices:

“When I was a postulant, our Mistress used to send me at half past four every afternoon to weed the garden. This was a real penance, the more so, dear Mother, because I was almost sure to meet you on the way, and once you remarked, ‘Really, this child does absolutely nothing. What are we to do with a novice who must have a walk every day?’ And yet, dear Mother, how grateful I am to you for giving me such a sound and valuable training. It was an inestimable grace. What should I have become, if, as the world outside believed, I had been but the pet of the Community? Perhaps, instead of seeing Our Lord in the person of my superiors, I should only have considered the creature, and my heart, [60r] which had been so carefully guarded in the world, would have been ensnared by human affection in the cloister. Happily, your motherly prudence saved me from such a disaster. And not only in this matter, but in other more bitter trials, I can truly say that Suffering opened its arms to me from the first, and I lovingly embraced it.” (MSA 69,2) – As will be shown . . .

79 – The Servant of God bravely and even-temperedly accepted severe treatment from her superiors after her Reception of the Veil and Profession, despite the illusion held by several nuns as to the way she was treated. She describes this at the beginning of the second part of her manuscript, when the Reverend Mother Prioress asked her for more ample details on her religious life:

“The opinion is not uncommon in the Community that you have always indulged me, ever since I entered the Convent; however, ‘Man sees those things that appear, but the Lord beholds the heart.’ Dear Mother, once again I thank you for not having spared me. Jesus knew well that His Little Flower needed the life-giving water of humiliation—it was too weak to take root otherwise, and to you it owes so great a blessing.” (MSC 1,2)– As will be shown . . .

80 – The Servant of God was also strong in the trial of spiritual dryness that lasted almost her entire religious life. During her retreat prior to her Habit Reception, she wrote a letter to Mother Agnes of Jesus, saying:

“In my relationship with Jesus, there is nothing but aridity! Sleep! Since Jesus wants to sleep I won’t hinder Him. I am only too happy that He is not [60v] treating me as a stranger or holding back with me. He is rid­dling His poor little ball with pinpricks. When it is the sweet Friend who punctures His ball Himself, suffering is only sweet­ness, His hand is so gentle! . . . It is very different when it is creatures!” (LT74 p370)

She experienced the same aridity during her Profession retreat. She spoke of it to her sister, Marie of the Sacred Heart: “Your little daughter hardly hears the heavenly harmonies. Her wedding trip is very arid; it is true, her Fiancé is having her travel through fertile and magnificent countries, but the night prevents her from admiring anything and, especially, from enjoying all these marvels. You’re going to think that she’s saddened by this, but no, on the contrary, she is happy to follow her Fiancé because of her love for Him alone and not because of His gifts . . . He alone is so beautiful, so ravishing! . . . even when He is silent. . . even when He is hiding! Do you understand your little daughter? . . . She is tired of earthly consolations; she wants only her Beloved. During this retreat, I think the work of Jesus has consisted in detaching me from all that is outside of Him. My only solace has been a very great feeling of strength and peace. Also, I trust I am as Jesus wants me to be: this thought is the source of all my happiness.” (LT 111) - As will be shown . . .

81 – She demonstrated the same strength in the services she rendered to the other Sisters and when, one night, the beginnings of a fire threatened the Carmel; Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus led the others and, without heeding the danger, largely contributed to putting out the flames. She would push herself to the limit with great willpower and, according to one Sister, “allied all her virtues with extraordinary courage. From the moment she joined the Carmel at the age of fifteen, she was permitted [61r] to follow all the practices of the austere rule except the fasts. At times, her companions in the novitiate noticed her pallor and sought to obtain her dispensation from either the evening or morning Office. The Reverend Mother Prioress refused all their requests, saying, ‘A soul of such mettle is not to be treated like a child. Dispensations are not made for her. Let her be, God is supporting her. Besides, if she is ill, she should come and tell me herself.’ But Sister Thérèse acted by the principle that ‘one should give every last ounce of one’s strength before complaining.’ Countless times she arrived at Matins feeling dizzy or with violent headaches! ‘I can still walk,’ she would say, ‘so I must perform my duty.’ Thanks to this energy she accomplished heroic acts with great simplicity.” (CRM 66 [The Red Notebook of Marie of the Trinity] 

The following detail is one of many she related to her Reverend Mother Prioress: “I remember that when I was a postulant I was sometimes so violently tempted to seek my own satisfaction and bring myself a few ounces of happiness by having a word with you, that I was obliged to hurry past your cell and hold on to the banisters to keep myself from turning back. Numerous permissions I wanted to ask, and a hundred pretexts for yielding to my desires suggested themselves, but now I am truly glad that I did not listen. I already enjoy the reward promised to those who fight bravely.” (MSC 21,2-22,1) - As will be shown . . .

82 – The Servant of God demonstrated heroic strength in her spells of spiritual dryness and also in the cruel sufferings caused by her long illness, when there was nothing that could relieve her. She earned the doctor’s admiration: “Ah, If only you knew what she has to endure.” He said. “I have never seen anyone suffer so intensely with such a look of heavenly joy. She is an angel.” (HA [Story of a Soul] ch.12) - As will be shown . . . .


83 – The duty of obedience obliged the Servant of God not to practise outward mortifications other than the already considerable ones imposed by the austere rule of the Carmel. What she had written concerning the three months delay preceding her entrance to the cloisters, she continued to put into practice, giving herself over to a more mortified life, which she defined as follows:

“When I say mortified, I do not mean that I imitated the penances of the Saints. Far from resembling those beautiful souls who practise every kind of mortification from their infancy, my mortifications consisted in breaking my will, holding back a reply, rendering little services without expecting any recognition, etc., etc. By practising these trifles Iprepared myself to become the fiancée of Jesus.” (MSA 68,2)

On another occasion, she wrote, “Above all I endeavoured to practise little hidden acts of virtue; thus I took pleasure in folding the mantles forgotten by the Sisters, and I sought every possible occasion to help them. One of God’s gifts was a great attraction towards penance, but I was not permitted to satisfy it; the only mortification allowed me consisted in mortifying my self-love, and this did me far more good than bodily penance would have done.” (MSA 74,2) – As will be shown . . .

84 – The Servant of God applied this heroic mortification to her curiosity when she suffered her first pulmonary haemorrhage, which she believed to be a sign heralding her deliverance:

“During Lent last year (1896) I felt stronger than ever and continued so until Holy Week, in spite of the fast which I [62r] observed in all its rigour. But in the early hours of Good Friday, Jesus gave me to hope that I should soon join Him in His beautiful Home. How sweet is this memory! I could not obtain permission to remain watching at the Altar of Repose throughout the Thursday night, and I returned to our cell at midnight. Scarcely was my head laid on the pillow when I felt a hot stream rise to my lips. I thought I was going to die, and my heart nearly broke with joy. But as I had already put out our lamp, I mortified my curiosity until the morning and slept in peace.” (MSC 4,2-5,1) – As will be shown . . .

85 – Although the Servant of God could not practise any exceptional corporal mortifications without permission, she was able to mortify her heart by refusing herself consolations which would have brought her joy. After the very painful parting from her beloved father, she joined her two eldest sisters, who had been her soul’s confidantes. However, as solitude and silence were strictly observed, she saw her sisters only at recreations. If her self-denial had been anything less than absolute, she could have often sat down beside them, but “she chose the company of nuns whom she liked the least.” (HA ch. 12) It was not clear, therefore, whether or not she had any particular love for her blood sisters.

Shortly after joining the Carmel, she was designated assistant to Sister Agnes of Jesus, her beloved “Pauline”. This was another source of sacrifices. Sister Thérèse knew that unnecessary words were forbidden and she did not allow herself to confide in her once. “O dear Mother,” she would say later, “how I suffered then! I could not open up my heart to you, and I thought you no longer knew me!” (DEA [Last Conversations with Mother Agnes] 13-7)

[62v] After five years of this heroic silence, Sister Agnes of Jesus was elected Prioress. In the evening of her election, the heart of “little Thérèse” might have leapt for joy at the thought that henceforth she would be able speak to her “second Mother” freely, and pour out her soul to her as she used to. However, sacrifice had become her life’s nourishment, and if she prayed for one blessing, it was to come in last place, and to always have the last place. Moreover, of all the nuns, she saw her Mother Prioress the least. – As will be shown . . .

   86 – “Thérèse’s spirit of sacrifice was far-reaching; she eagerly sought what was painful and disagreeable as her rightful share. All that God asked she gave Him without hesitation or reserve. ‘During my postulancy,’ she said, ‘it cost me a great deal to perform certain exterior penances that were customary in our convents, but I never yielded to these repulsions. It seemed to me that the image of my Crucified Lord looked at me with beseeching eyes, and begged these sacrifices.’ Her vigilance was so keen that she never left unobserved any of the Mother Prioress’ little instructions, or any of the small rules which render religious life so meritorious. One of the elderly nuns, having remarked her extraordinary faithfulness on this point, ever afterwards regarded her as a Saint. Sister Thérèse would say that she never did any great penances. This was because in her fervour, she counted for nothing the few that were allowed her. Once, however, she fell ill from wearing a small iron Cross for too long, the sharp points of which had pressed into her flesh. ‘Such a trifle would not have caused this,’ she said afterwards, ‘if God had not wished to make me understand that the greater austerities [63r] of the Saints are not meant for me, nor for the souls that walk in the path of 'spiritual childhood.'” (HA ch.12) – As will be shown . . .

The novices have said that she would hide her mortifications under a gracious smile. “One fast-day, however, when our Reverend Mother ordered her some special food, I found her seasoning it with wormwood because it was too much to her taste,” explains one of them. (CSG [Counsels and Reminiscences] (130)).

“On another occasion I saw her drinking a most unpleasant medicine very slowly. ‘Hurry,’ I said, ‘drink it all at once!’ ‘Oh, no!’ she answered; ‘must I not take advantage of these small opportunities for penance since the greater ones are forbidden me?’

Towards the end of her life I learned that, during her noviciate, one of our Sisters, when fastening the scapular for her, ran the large pin through her shoulder, and for hours she bore the pain with joy.

On another occasion she gave me proof of her interior mortification. I had received a most interesting letter, which was read aloud at recreation during her absence. In the evening she expressed the wish to read it, and I gave it to her. Later on, when she returned it, I begged her to tell me what she thought of a passage in the letter which I knew ought to have charmed her. She seemed rather confused, and after a pause she answered, ‘God asked of me the sacrifice of this letter because of the eagerness I displayed the other day . . . so I have not read it.’” (CSG (130))

The Servant of God unfailingly continued her mortifications until the hour of her death. – As will be shown . . .


87 – The way of childlike surrender that the Servant of God taught and strove to follow is a way of humility. She would study this virtue with her sister, Mother Agnes, in her devotion toward the Holy Face: “Then I understood better than ever in what true glory consists. He whose ‘Kingdom is not of this world’ taught me that the only royalty to be coveted lies in being ‘unknown and esteemed as naught,’ and in the joy of self-abasement. And I wished for my face, like the Face of Jesus, ‘to be, as it were, hidden and despised, so that no one on earth should esteem me.’ I thirsted to suffer and to be forgotten.

Most merciful has been the way by which the Divine Master has ever led me. He has never inspired me with any desire and left it unsatisfied, and that is why I have always found His bitter chalice full of sweetness.” (MSA 71,1) – As will be shown . . .

88 – On the day of her profession, she overcame a temptation that had thrown her into utter confusion with an act of humility. She revealed to the Novice Mistress what was troubling her soul; the thought that she was deceiving her superiors and was not called to the Carmel. This act of humility chased the devil away and immediately brought her deep peace.

Speaking of the solace that God gave her during a certain period of her religious life, she added:

“His smiles are making the Little Flower grow in a wondrous way. Deep down in its heart it treasures those precious drops of dew—the mortifications of other days—and they remind it that it is small and frail. Even were all creatures to draw near to admire and flatter it, that would not add a shade of idle satisfaction to the true joy which [64r] thrills it, realising that in God’s Eyes it is but a poor, worthless thing, and nothing more.” (MSC 1,2-2,1) One of the nuns in her convent has summarised her daily attitude as follows: “She would never give her opinion, unless asked for it, nor interfere in conversations when she was not spoken to. She always effaced herself, humbling herself in the eyes of her Sisters, and trying to assist them.” As will be shown . . .

89 – The Servant of God savoured the humiliation that, on certain days, the remarks of her novices brought her, as prove the following lines:

“The remembrance of my weakness is ever before me. At times, I long to hear something other than praise, my soul tiring of this over-sweet food; then Our Lord serves me a nice, well spiced little salad with plenty of vinegar—oil alone is wanting, and this it is which makes it more to my taste. And the salad is offered to me by the novices at the moment I least expect. God lifts the veil that hides my faults, and my dear little Sisters, beholding me as I really am, do not find me altogether agreeable. With charming simplicity, they tell me how I try them and what they dislike in me; in fact, they are as frank as though they were speaking of someone else, for they are aware that I am pleased when they act in this way. I am more than pleased—I am transported with delight by the splendid banquet set before me. How can anything so contrary to our natural inclinations afford such extraordinary pleasure? Had I not experienced it, I could not have believed it possible. One day, when I was ardently longing for some humiliation, a young postulant came to me and sated my desire so completely [64v] that I was reminded of the occasion when Semei cursed David, and I inwardly recited the words of the holy King: ‘Yea, it is the Lord who has bidden him say all these things.’ In this way God takes care of me. He cannot always provide that strength-giving bread, exterior humiliation, but from time to time He allows me to eat of ‘the crumbs from the children’s table.’ How magnificent are His Mercies!” (MSC 26,2-27,1) – As will be shown . . .

In the Carmel, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus sought to be the little servant of her Sisters. In this spirit of humility, she strove to obey them all indistinctly.

“One evening, during her illness, the Community had assembled in the garden to sing a hymn before an Altar of the Sacred Heart. Sister Thérèse, who was already consumed with fever, joined them with difficulty, and, arriving quite exhausted, was obliged to sit down at once. When the hymn began, one of the Sisters gave her a sign to stand up. Without hesitation, the humble child rose, and, in spite of the fever and great oppression from which she was suffering, remained standing to the end.” (HA ch.12)

“Far from avoiding humiliations, Sister Thérèse sought them eagerly, and for that reason she offered herself as ‘aid’ to a Sister who, she well knew, was difficult to please, and her generous proposal was accepted. One day, when she had suffered much from this Sister, a novice asked her why she looked so happy. Great was her surprise on receiving the reply: ‘It is because Sister N. has just been saying disagreeable things to me. What pleasure she has given me! I wish I could meet her now, and give her a sweet smile.’ . . . As she was still speaking, the Sister in question knocked at the door, and the astonished novice could see for herself how the Saints forgive.” (HA ch.12)

[65r] In her exercise of humility, she sought to imitate and please Jesus, as she sings in this hymn written the year before she died:

“What scorn did you not receive

For me, on the foreign shore? . . .

On earth I want to hide myself,

To be the last in everything

For you, Jesus! . . .

My Beloved, your example invites me

To humble myself, to scorn honours.

To delight you I want to stay little.

In forgetting myself, I'll charm your Heart.” (PN 31 ,3-4)

As will be shown . . .


90 – Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus was given several spiritual gifts during her lifetime: firstly the gift of intelligence. Disposed to speak to souls who are humble and pure of heart, God instructed the young nun, as she herself acknowledged, as to the mystery of her vocation, and on the inequality with which He distributes His blessings in the world, as well as on spiritual direction. She expressed the most elevated of theological ideas in very simple and very graceful terms. Before putting pen to paper, she asked the Blessed Virgin to guide her hand, that she would not write one line to displease her. Thanks to Mary’s protection, God granted her very clear insights on the mystery of Our Lord’s childhood and passion, as well as on His justice and mercy. – As will be shown . . .

[65v] 91 – Several times in her ministry as Novice Mistress, the Servant of God read the inmost thoughts of the souls in her charge. “This is my secret,” she said to them, “I never reprimand you without first invoking Our Blessed Lady, and asking her to inspire me as to what will be for your greater good, and I myself am often astonished at the things I teach you. At such times I feel I make no mistake, and that it is Jesus speaking to you through my lips.” (HA ch.12)

Similarly, on one occasion, one of her sisters came to the infirmary during Thérèse’s illness, having experienced some acute distress, amounting almost to discouragement. Although she was careful not to let any sign of grief be seen, Thérèse said to her, “We ought not to weep like those who have no hope.” (HA ch.12) – As will be shown . . .

92 – Towards the age of ten, the Servant of God was granted a vision of the Blessed Virgin. It took place at the end of a novena addressed to Our Lady of Victories for her recovery, while her three sisters were beside her, praying fervently. She recounted it as follows: “I, too, finding no help on earth and almost dying of pain, turned to my Heavenly Mother, begging her from the bottom of my heart to have pity on me. Suddenly the statue came to life and became beautiful, shining with a divine beauty that I shall never find words to describe. The expression of Our Lady’s face was ineffably sweet, tender, and compassionate; but what touched me to the very depths of my soul was her gracious smile. Then, all my pain vanished; two big tears started to my eyes and fell silently. . . . They were indeed tears of untainted heavenly joy. [66r] ‘Our Blessed Lady has come to me, and has smiled at me. How happy I am!’” (MSA 30,1-2)

She attested to this event a few weeks before her death. Gazing lovingly at the same statue, she said to her sister Marie, who had witnessed her ecstasy when the Blessed Virgin had healed her, “Never has she seemed so beautiful to me . . . Today it is the statue I see, whereas the other time, as you well know, it was not the statue.” (HA ch.12) – As will be shown . . .

93 – The Servant of God received another blessing, which she related shortly before she died as follows:

“A few days after offering myself to God's Merciful Love, I was in the choir, beginning the Way of the Cross, when I felt myself suddenly wounded by a dart of fire so ardent that I thought I should die. I do not know how to explain this transport; there is no comparison to describe the intensity of that flame. It seemed as though an invisible force plunged me wholly into fire. . . . But oh! what fire! what sweetness!”

When the Mother Prioress asked her whether this rapture was the first she had experienced, she answered simply, “Dear Mother, I have had several transports of love, and one in particular during my Noviciate, when for a whole week I remained far removed from this world. It seemed as though a veil had been thrown over all earthly things. But, I was not then consumed by a real fire. I was able to bear those transports of love without expecting to see the ties that bound me to earth give way; whilst, on the day of which I now speak, one minute—one second more and my soul would have been set free. Alas! I found myself again on earth, and dryness at once returned to my heart.” (DEA 7-7) As will be shown . . .

[66v]    94 – Shortly before she died, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus gained a better knowledge of her mission. As Saint Thomas Aquinas made his companion Friar Reginald the confidant of the insights he received from God (*, - BR 2nd Less., 2nd Nocturn), so she made Mother Agnes of Jesus her confidante. In the evening on 17th July 1897, she welcomed her with an extraordinary expression of joy and said to her:

“Some notes from a concert far away have just reached my ears, and have made me think that soon I shall be listening to the wondrous melodies of Paradise. The thought, however, gave me but a moment's joy—one hope alone quickens my heart: it is of the Love that I shall receive and the Love I shall be able to give! I feel that my mission is soon to begin—my mission to make others love God as I love Him . . . to teach souls my little way. I WILL SPEND MY HEAVEN DOING GOOD UPON EARTH. Nor is this impossible, since from the very heart of the Beatific Vision, the Angels keep watch over us. No, there can be no rest for me until the end of the world. But when the Angel shall have said, ‘Time is no more!’ then I shall rest, then I shall be able to rejoice, because the number of the elect will be complete.”

“And what is this little way that you would teach to souls?”

“It is the way of spiritual childhood, the way of trust and absolute self-surrender. I want to point out to them the means that I have always found so perfectly successful, to tell them that there is but one thing to do here below: we must offer Jesus the flowers of little sacrifices and win Him with a caress. That is how I have won Him, and that is why I shall be made so welcome.” (DEA 17-7) – As will be shown . . .



95 – Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus died on 30th September 1897, at the age of 24, from pulmonary tuberculosis. During the last months of her life, her virtues, despite her corporal and spiritual martyrdom, rose to heroism.

“How it pains us,” the nuns said to her, “seeing you suffer so much and thinking that you might suffer yet more!” “Oh, do not trouble yourselves on my account. I have reached a point where I can no longer suffer, because all suffering is sweet to me. But pray much for me, for it is often just when I cry to Heaven for help that I feel most abandoned.” (DEA 29-5)

Astonished, her companions asked her how she managed to maintain the virtue of hope.

“I turn to God and all His Saints, and thank them anyway; I believe they want to see how far I will push my trust. But the words of Job have not entered my heart in vain: ‘Even if God should kill me, I would still trust in Him.’ I own it has taken a long time to arrive at this degree of self-abandonment; but I have reached it now, and it is the Lord Himself Who brought me here.” (DEA 7-7) – As will be shown . . .

96 – Despite ever renascent temptations against the faith, she remained faithful in her way of trust and self-surrender. She said:

“It is the same to me whether I live or die and if God had me choose, I would choose nothing. I want only what He wants. ‘It is what He does that I love!’ I have no misgivings whatsoever about the final struggles or sufferings of this sickness, no matter how great they may be. God [67v] has helped me and led me by the hand since my earliest childhood. I’m relying on Him. My suffering might become extreme but I’m convinced that He will never abandon me.” [DEA 27-5] – As will be shown . . .

97 – The devil renewed his attacks:

“Last night I was seized with a terrible feeling of anguish,” she confessed to Mother Agnes of Jesus on one occasion; “I was lost in darkness, and from out of it came an accursed voice: ‘Are you certain God loves you? Has He Himself told you so? The opinion of creatures will not justify you in His sight.’” (HA ch.12)

“For several days in August, Thérèse remained, as it were, beside herself, and implored that prayers might be offered for her. She had never before been seen in this state, and in her inexpressible anguish she kept repeating, ‘Oh, how essential it is to pray for the agonising! If one only knew!’

One night she entreated the Nurse to sprinkle her bed with Holy Water, saying:

‘I am besieged by the devil. I do not see him, but I feel him; he torments me and holds me in an iron grip, that I may not find one crumb of comfort; he augments my woes, that I may be driven to despair. . . . And I cannot pray. I can only look at Our Blessed Lady and say, ‘Jesus! How needful is that prayer we use at Compline: Procul recedant somnia et noctium phantasmata!’ (‘Free us from the phantoms of the night.’) Something mysterious is happening within me. I am not suffering for myself, but for some other soul, and the devil is angry.’ The Nurse, startled, lit a blessed candle, and the spirit of darkness fled, never to return; [68r] but the sufferer remained to the end in a state of extreme anguish.” (DEA 25-8) - As will be shown . . .  

98 – When the pain worsened and her condition grew more serious, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus expressed the wish to be administered the sacrament of Extreme Unction. She received it with deep sentiments of faith and resignation to Divine Will. She also received Holy Viaticum on 30th July. Afterwards, she poured out her gratitude, saying:

I have found happiness and joy on earth, but solely in suffering, for I’ve suffered very much here below; you must make this known to souls. Since my First Communion, since the time I asked Jesus to change all the consolations of this earth into bitterness for me, I’ve had a per­petual desire to suffer. I wasn't thinking, however, of making suf­fering my joy; this is a grace that was given to me later on.” (DEA 31-7) – As will be shown.

99 – Her love for Mary deepened, and she increasingly identified herself as her child. One evening, she declared:

“How I do love the Blessed Virgin. If I had been a priest, I would have preached about her. She is shown as unapproachable, when she should be presented as imitable. She is more Mother than Queen. I have heard it said that her splendour eclipses that of all the Saints as the rising sun makes all the stars disappear. It sounds so strange. That a Mother should take away the glory of her children! I think quite the reverse. I believe that she will greatly increase the splendour of the elect . . . Our Mother Mary! Oh, how simple her life must have been!” (DEA 21-8, 23-8)

On another day, gazing upon Mary’s statue, she softly sang:

[68v] “When will it come, O tender Mother, When will that beautiful day come, That day on which from this earthly exile, I shall fly to my eternal repose?” (DEA 6-8)

- As will be shown.

100 – When one Sister said to her, “Your sufferings are terrible!” she replied calmly:

“No—they are not terrible: can a little Victim of Love find anything that is sent by her Spouse terrible? Each moment He sends me what I am able to bear, and nothing more, and if He increases the pain, my strength is increased as well. But I could never ask for greater sufferings—I am too little a soul. They would then be of my own choice. I should have to bear them all without Him, and I have never been able to do anything when left to myself.” (DEA 25-9, and 15-8 and 11-8) – As will be shown . . .

101 – The Servant of God’s illness spread to the rest of her body, causing her great pain. When asked whether she felt discouraged, she replied, “No, and yet everything is for the worse. I suffer violently with each breath.” She corrected herself, “No, everything is not for the worse, everything is for the better.” (DEA 24-8) – As will be shown . . .

The doctor admired the way she bore her suffering, saying to the Carmelite nuns, “If only you knew what she has to endure! I have never seen anyone suffer so intensely with such a look of heavenly joy. She’s an angel.” When they expressed sorrow at the thought of losing such a treasure, he said, “I shall not be able to cure [69r] her; she was not made for this earth.” (DEA 24-9) Furthermore, the doctor was unaware of the suffering that her inner trials were causing her. When her sister, Mother Agnes, alluded to this, saying, “It's very hard to suffer without any interior con­solation,” the invalid replied, “Yes, but it's a suffering without any disquietude. I am content to suffer since God wills it.” (DEA 29-8) - As will be shown . . .

102 – One night a few days before she died, the Nurse found her with her hands joined together and looking up to heaven:

What are you doing?”  she asked. “You should try to sleep.”

“I can’t, Sister, my suffering is too great! So I’m praying.”

“And what do you say to Jesus?”

“I do not say anything to Him. I just love Him.” (CSG 25-9) And she would sometimes cry out:

“Oh, God is so good! Truly He must be very good to give me strength to bear all I have to suffer!” (DEA 22-8) – As will be shown . . .

103 – The Servant of God’s last moments enormously edified those who witnessed them. It was Thursday 30th September. That morning, gazing at Mary’s statue, she said, “Oh, I have prayed to her most fervently . . . But this is pure agony, without any hint of solace. Earth’s air is denied to me! When will God grant me the air of heaven?” (DEA 30-9)

At about two thirty, she sat up in bed and said, [69v] O Mother, I assure you, the chalice is filled to the brim!Never would I have believed it was possible to suffer so much! I can only explain it by my extreme desire to save souls.”

Shortly afterwards, she said, “Everything I have written on my desires for suffering is very true, but I do not regret surrendering myself to Love.”

She repeated these last words several times. A little later, she said, “Mother, prepare me to die well.”

The Mother Prioress encouraged her with these words, “My child, you are quite ready to appear before God, for you have always understood the virtue of humility.”

Then, Thérèse gave this striking testimony of herself, “Yes, I feel it; my soul has always sought the truth. . . . I have understood humility of heart!” (DEA 30-9) – As will be shown . . .

104 – The Servant of God’s last agony began at about four thirty. When the community came into the infirmary to pray for her, she greeted the Sisters with a sweet smile. She clasped her Crucifix in her failing hands. Perspiration stood out in enormous drops on her forehead and she shook all over.

A few minutes after seven, turning to the Prioress, the poor little Martyr asked:

“Mother, is it not the agony? . . . Am I not going to die?”

“Yes, my child, it is the agony, but Jesus perhaps wills that it be prolonged for some hours.”

In a sweet and plaintive voice she replied, “Ah, very well then . . . very well . . . I do not wish to suffer less!

Then, looking at her crucifix, [70r] “Oh! . . . I love Him! . . . My God, I . . . love . . . You!” (DEA 30-9)

The Servant of God sank down quite suddenly, then opened her eyes, which shone with unutterable happiness and peace, fixed her gaze a little above the statue of Our Lady, and drew her last breath in this supreme act of love. – As will be shown . . .

105 – The joy of that last rapture imprinted itself on her brow, and a radiant smile illuminated her face.On the Saturday and Sunday, her body was laid out by the grating of the choir. A large crowd pressed into the church over those two days, to gaze upon the “little saint”. Hundreds of medallions and rosaries were brought to touch her remains. Her body remained supple for the four days preceding her funeral.

Several Carmelites as well as people from outside the convent claim that they then saw, or have seen since, luminescent signs in her cell or in the sky. Others claim to have perceived sweet perfumes, either emanating from objects having belonged to her, or when they have prayed to her or obtained a blessing through her intercession.

- As will be shown . . .

106 – The funeral ceremony took place on the fourth of October in the Carmel chapel in the presence of a large assembly of priests and faithful. A small company went on to the cemetery of Lisieux. The body was laid in the plot reserved for Carmelite nuns, among whom she now reposes. A plain wooden cross was placed on her grave bearing the inscription:





- As will be shown . . .


107– During her lifetime, the Servant of God’s reputation for holiness did not spread far beyond the Carmel of Lisieux, where she had lived from the age of 15 and where she died nine years later. Although she took pains to tend towards perfection in religious life, she also strove to live humbly and hidden, following her “little way” of spiritual childhood and self-surrender to God’s merciful love. Even in suffering, she practised a charity full of simplicity and cordiality, inspired by the virtues of the Holy Family. In a letter to Mother Agnes of Jesus in 1892, she wrote:

“It is such bliss to be hidden to the extent that nobody thinks of us, and to be unknown, even by those who live with us! Oh, dear Mother, how I long to be unknown by all creatures! I have never wished for human glory, contempt it was that had attraction for my heart; but having recognised that this again was too glorious for me, I ardently desire to be forgotten.” (LT 103)

Several Carmelites held her in contempt and one Sister wondered what could possibly be said of her after her death. Other, more attentive and perceptive Sisters had noticed her rapid daily progress, which surpassed them all. One Sister, Sister Saint-Pierre, whose acute frailty had rendered demanding and who personally testified to Sister Thérèse’s heroic charity, requested that her memory be kept alive in the monastery and even predicted that it would spread far and wide.

The observant Mother Prioress entrusted her at the age of twenty-two with training the novices and these latter never saw a flaw in her virtues, virtues which Thérèse taught more by means of her example than by her advice. – As will be shown . . .

[71r] 108 – The Servant of God’s extremely edifying death throws light on her holiness, and soon the face of this young nun, who was so humble and mild in her lifetime, would be recognised far and wide. It is customary, after the death of one of her daughters, for the Mother Prioress of a Carmel to recommend her to the prayers of the various monasteries of the Order. She sends them a brief monograph of the deceased in the form of a circular relating the chief events of her life and virtues, illness and death. This pious practice maintains the spirit of charity and prayer; it provides encouragement for all and often a model. It seemed to those in the Carmel of Lisieux that nothing would portray Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus better than the pages that she wrote herself in an act of obedience. From there grew the idea of substituting Story of a Soul for the usual circular; all it needed was completing with a chapter on her last illness and edifying death.

Printed and sent at the end of 1898, the manuscript introduced to Carmelite monasteries the nun whom people everywhere were calling a “little saint”, as prove letters of gratitude received at the time. – As will be shown . . .

109 – In the interest of the souls for whom the Servant of God had greatly suffered and prayed, it was decided that the manuscript should have a wider circulation. His Grace, Monsignor Amette, Archbishop of Paris, then Bishop of Bayeux and Lisieux, approved the project. On 24th May 1899, he wrote:

“Dear Reverend Mother,

The Holy Spirit said, ‘it is good to keep close the secret of a king, but it is honourable to reveal the works of God!’

[71v] You no doubt recalled these words when you decided to give Story of a Soul to the public. Custodian of the intimate secrets of your beloved daughter Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, you believed it was not right to keep for yourself and your Sisters that which she did not write for you alone. You realised, as did a few good judges, that it would glorify Our Lord to proclaim the marvellous workings of His grace in this most pure and generous soul. Your hopes have not been deceived; the rapidity with which the first edition of your book sold out amply proves this.

I ask Our Lord to grant a similar and still more abundant blessing to the new edition that you are preparing.”

The following is what was said by a few of these good judges:

The Most Reverend Godefroy Madelaine, Premonstratensian of Frigolet Abbey:

Mondaye Abbey, Good Friday, 8th April 1898.

“Dear Reverend Mother,

My first reading of Story of a Soul delighted me; the second left me in indescribable rapture. There are pages in this book that are so lively, so warm and so evocative that it is almost impossible not to be captivated by them. Even the finest spiritual books attain only rarely such elevated theology. Is it not marvellous to see a young lady of twenty or so walk so confidently through the vast field of inspired Writings, and with a [72r] sure hand gather the most diverse and most appropriate texts to her subject? At times she rises to astonishing mystical heights; yet her mysticism remains amiable, graceful and wholly evangelical.”

The Most Reverend Dom Etienne, Trappist of the Monastery of Mortagne:

21st January 1899

“Dear Reverend Mother,

I would willingly constitute myself promoter and defender of the writings and admirable virtues of your holy child, but it must be owned that this highly favoured child needs the praise of no one; her merit suffices her before God and men. I am not surprised by how quickly the first edition has sold. When one has read the precious volume of Story of a Soul, one would wish that everyone read it, for it brims with charm, piety, doctrine, the natural and the spiritual, the human and the divine. It is Our Lord humanised, rendered palpable and tangible, Who raised with constant love this little flower of the Carmel, making her blossom and grow, and anointing her with the sweetest of perfumes, for the delight of His Heart and the joy of ours.”

Here are a few extracts from the appraisal written by the Very Rev. Le Doré, General Superior of the Eudists:

Paris, 24th February 1899

“Dear Reverend Mother,

You say you wish to re-edit the delightful volume of the well-named Story of a Soul. That, dear Reverend Mother, is an excellent initiative and one that could have been inspired only by God. [72v] Whomsoever has opened this book will read to the last page; they will, as I did, reread it, savour it, and, I might even add, consult it. Hours seem like minutes thumbing through pages in which virtue appears unadorned, uncontrived, and yet full of charm. We unknowingly follow Sister Thérèse in her flight towards the ideal; we soar with her over the summits of perfection. In her company, our love for God grows more fervent. We are better disposed to serve and to support our neighbour. Suffering becomes almost pleasant, and in trials, we feel stronger. The story and its heroin are appealing and self-improving. I have lent the copy you kindly sent me to priests, laywomen and to Novices of our Congregation here. All have been delighted by it, and all have drawn profit from it.”

A friar of the Order of Passionists, Reverend Louis Th. of Jesus, who is renowned for his writings and also for the holy life that he led, wrote the following as he lay dying at the age of 80:

Mérignac, 30th November 1898

“Dear Reverend Mother,

Thank you! Ah, I owe you an immense thank you . . . For the past three days, you have allowed me to live with an angel! God is most admirable! This is a new and hitherto unknown ‘invention’ of holiness, if I may call it so! A glorious revelation has been given to the world! Truly, this is a ‘genre’ of holiness created by the Holy Spirit for the present age, an age in which so many souls, even Christians, see but the horrors of the Crossin the sacrifices of the cloister. This heralds great glory for the Carmel and great hope for us all! [73r] I, too, have felt an irresistible call to pray to her. I would rekindle my strength with the energy of her virtue, and warm my heart by this seraph’s fire. I ask this favoured child of Immaculate Mary to come to my aid when I recite this prayer that was her own: ‘You who came to smile at me in the morning of my life, Come smile at me again... Mother.... It's evening now!’

As will be shown . . .

110 – On 30th December 1899, twelve years following the pontifical audience in which young Thérèse Martin, aided by God, summoned all her strength to speak to the Holy Father, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus returned to the Vatican.

His Eminence Cardinal Gotti offered Pope Leo XIII a magnificent copy of Story of a Soul as a gift from the Carmel of Lisieux. The Cardinal did not say whether, upon seeing the much-loved engraving of Thérèse on her knees asking the Holy Father for permission to enter the Carmel at 15 years of age, the Pope remembered the event, but a few days later, he wrote to the Reverend Mother Prioress, saying, “His Holiness opened it at once, and read for a considerable length of time with marked satisfaction.”

In a second letter addressed to the same Mother Prioress dated 19th March 1900, His Eminence thanked her profusely for the various keepsakes of the Servant of God that had been given to him. It is evident from the following passage that the Servant of God’s reputation for holiness had already spread to Rome: “I showed the keepsakes to the Very Rev. General of the Discalced Carmelites, and we decided that it would be appropriate to keep them with the Postulations for the Causes of Venerables of our Order. It is there that they will be best [73v] kept, and we will be delighted to see them again should God deem fit to one day glorify His faithful servant by having her sanctioned with the honours of public worship in His Church.”

111 – A few months earlier, the Most Reverend Bernardin of Saint Teresa, General of the Discalced Carmelites, wrote a letter worthy of being copied in these Articles. It reveals the acclamations directed at the religious family in Lisieux when it was proposed to translate Story of a Soul in order to promote the Servant of God’s name, not only in overseas Carmelite monasteries, but throughout the Catholic world. – As will be shown . . .

J. + M.

P. C.             Rome, Corso d'Italia, 39

31st August 1889

“Dear Reverend Mother,

I am most grateful to your Reverence for kindly sending me this delightful Story of a Soul! It is impossible to read these pages without being moved to the depths of one’s soul by the sight of a virtue so simple, so graceful and yet at the same time so elevated and so heroic. Jesus must singularly cherish your Carmel to have given it such a great treasure. True, this earthly angel appeared, so to speak, but for a moment, so hasty was she to join her heavenly brothers and rest upon the Heart of her one Love. Yet the cloister that had the fortune of being her shelter remains anointed with perfume and also alight from the luminescent trail she has left behind. It has been your belief, Very Reverend Mother, that your Carmel should not be alone in enjoying this scent, that this most pure and dazzling light cannot remain hidden within the narrow confines of a monastery, but should shine [74r] its benevolent light far and wide. If I might express one wish, Very Reverend Mother, I would ask that practised wordsmiths might soon try to render, in several languages, the almost inimitable grace of the one who wrote Story of a Soul. The Carmelite Order in its entirety will thus come into possession of what I esteem to be a precious family jewel.

Yours sincerely,

Fr Bernardin of Saint Teresa, Superior General of the Discalced Carmelites.”

112 – The first translation was the Polish translation, owing to the Carmel of Przemyśl (Austria-Galicia).

“The great ‘little’ saint of your community perhaps wishes to use us to ‘do good’ in Poland. It so happens, Reverend Mother, we would be happy to assist her in this, if you grant us permission to publish Story of a Soul in the Polish language.”

This request took priority over two other propositions, one issued by the Countess of Jelska in Krakow and the other by Reverend Mohl, S. J. The translation was published with the reasoned approval of His Grace, Monsignor Likowski, Titular bishop of Aureliopolis:

Posen, 6th December 1901

“Not only do I grant the desired Imprimatur, but I also warmly recommend the Polish translation of the life of Sister Thérèse. It has been a long time since ascetic literature last produced, especially in Polish, such an instructive and edifying book.” – As will be shown . . .

113 – The English translation was offered as a token of [74v] gratitude towards the Servant of God by Professor Dziewicki of the University of Krakow. Here is an extract from his request for authorisation dated 29th May 1899:

“As a mark of gratitude toward Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus for all the good she has done me, I resolved to do everything in my power to ensure that this book become known in another language. English, which I teach here at the University, is my mother tongue and I have already written several books in the language. I therefore turned to Burns and Oates, which are Catholic bookshops in London, announcing that I seek no fee for translating the book. They have invited me to ask you for permission to translate the book and to reproduce the photographs of Sister Thérèse, etc.”

The learned professor’s work forestalled the translation that had begun in the Carmel of Boston, which was not completed but replaced by the translation of the poems of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus.

The Dublin newspaper Irish Catholic also reproduced “Story of a Soul” for Ireland under the title “Little Flower of Jesus”.

Another complete edition is under preparation. – As will be shown . . .

114 – Two Italian translations have been published, one owing to Miss Teresa Canella, from Brescia, and the other to the Carmel of Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi in Florence.

Here is the request written in May 1904 for the right to publish the Dutch translation:

“A priest from our province of Discalced Carmelites has undertaken the Dutch translation of the life of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus. He will have finished it shortly. Now, it is his wish to complete it in every aspect. However in order to most effectively [75r] widen the knowledge of God’s extraordinary conduct towards this favoured soul, obtaining copyright is his firm desire. This right being reserved to you, Reverend Mother, the translator Reverend Pierre-Thomas Hikspoors and I would be much obliged if you would grant him permission to translate, etc.”

Eug. Driessen, Carmelite Friar Oss (Brabant Septentrional).

115 – The desire for a German translation was expressed from various sources and requested very insistently by the princess of the Bavarian royal family. It was published in a high quality edition by the Albert Jacobi bookshop in Aachen. This translation was preceded by that of Baroness Frentz. – As will be shown . . .

116 – The Portuguese translation was undertaken in order to extend the benefits already brought by the Servant of God’s writings to a few privileged people, as shown by this letter from Reverend P. de Santanna, S. J.:

“I come from afar to urgently request permission to translate and publish a Portuguese edition of the admirable life of our dear little Thérèse, this angel of love full of grace and beauty who is now spending her heaven doing good on earth. As soon as a fortunate coincidence made her known to me here in Madeira whilst I was busy preaching a retreat to the Island’s clergy, Sister Thérèse became a soul sister to me and a real friend. I made her known to all those entrusted to my direction, and, in all places and at all times, reading this book has brought abundant harvests of joy and grace. I am therefore being urged to translate it. I intend to have it published immediately after my return to Lisbon, [75v] at the beginning of October. I therefore hope, Reverend Mother, you will grant me this grace for the glory of God and of your heavenly child, the angelic ‘little Thérèse’.” Fr de Santanna, S. J. Funchal (Madeira), 14th August 1905.

117 – The Spanish translation is yet to be published. Monsignor Polit, Bishop of Cuenca (Equador), who is the much-appreciated collaborator for the translation of the Complete Works of Saint Teresa undertaken by the Carmelite nuns of the first Parisian monastery, commenced it but then abandoned the project. He expressed his regrets in a letter addressed to the Reverend Mother Prioress of Lisieux on 20th March 1908:

             “. . . It pains me very deeply that, in the language of Saint Teresa, we do not yet possess a good translation of the Life of she who will one day be invoked everywhere as the second Saint Teresa. I regret it all the more given that six European languages already have a translation of this masterpiece. The Spanish edition is wanting for 60 million Catholics. The translation must be as perfect as possible. For want of others more capable, oh, if only I could do this much-desired translation! However it has become impossible for me, alas! As it stands, I offer you my full and devoted collaboration and for our dear Teresa del Niño Jesùs, I will readily deny myself an hour’s sleep every day if necessary.”

             The void will soon be filled; the last chapters of the translation revised by Monsignor M. M. Polit are being printed. – As will be shown . . .

118 – Thanks to the initiative of Reverend Marmonier of the [76r] Foreign Missions, there is reason to hope that the Japanese will soon be able to read Story of a Soul in their own language, just as the blind can read it in Braille. The Russian translation has recently got underway in Kiev (March 1910). - As will be shown . . .

119 – Whilst these various translations bring the edifying life of Sister Thérèse within reach of the faithful in a great many countries, the Carmel of Lisieux remains the centre of devotion to Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus. The numerous pilgrims who go to kneel on her grave, pray to her, and very often thank her for blessings received also pray in the chapel, where she consecrated herself wholly to the love of God.

Pilgrims speak of her as though a saint, and eagerly await the moment when she will be raised to the altars. Their testimonies are very often accompanied with marble ex-votos or precious objects that are offered as tokens of gratitude. These are kept in a special room inside the monastery. Letters from all over the world, and often from the most distant mission lands, express the same sentiments whether requesting prayers, copies of her life story, keepsakes or pictures.

To give an approximate idea of the growth of this movement of devotion, it will suffice to say that sales of the complete French edition of Story of a Soul have reached sixty thousand copies, not counting the abridged edition, which was printed in eighty thousand copies.

In 1909 alone, the Carmel sent out 112,000 pictures and 25,000 keepsakes. Every day, the post delivers to the Carmel of Lisieux on average thirty letters relating to Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus. This daily correspondence contains the most touching of sentiments of trust in the nun who is known as ‘the little [76v] Saint’, as well as extremely diverse and numerous accounts of graces and healings. – As will be shown . . .

120 – The main Catholic magazines, many newspapers and religious weeklies, both in France and abroad, have dedicated articles to Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus; the Glasgow Observer merits a special mention. Every week in 1909, it published Acknowledgements in the same way as it did Advertisements. People would simply write a few lines explaining how they were committed to rendering their gratitude public and repaying their debt after receiving the protection of “the Little Flower of Jesus”. This is the charming name given to the Servant of God over there. The edition dated 25th September 1909 contained twenty-one such Acknowledgments. The newspaper announced it would have to begin charging a small fee to cover printing costs. – As will be shown . . .