Biography of Marie of the Sacred Heart



 Marie du SC   MSC sign

The eldest of a large family

On February 22nd, 1860 in Alençon, Mr Martin went to St. Peter's Church in Montsort to have baptized little Marie who was born the same day. In the joy of this first birth to his home, he said to the priest: "This is the first time you see me for a baptism, this will not be the last." Seven newborns indeed will have him come again to this sanctuary.

Marie was a lively child, loving, but also strong-willed and argumentative, expressing in gestures of independence her rejection of what seemed to her unnecessary formalities or worldly convenience. “I am free!" is one of her sallies, which came to characterize her. Her mother wants more docility, but she can detect treasures of generosity and uprightness in her daughter, her extraordinary tenderness of heart, her forgetfulness of self.

For her father, she is “his first one”, “his big one”, but he also calls her Gypsy. He had given Pauline the nickname "fine pearl" but of Marie he said "the diamond ".

Adolescence and responsibilities

After seven years at the boarding school of the Visitation in Le Mans - from 1868-1875 - Marie returned to Alençon where Mrs. Martin had only two years to live. It is during this time that she initiated her eldest daughter in the role of housewife and educator of her little
sisters. No doubt the girl did not think she would need to take on so early such a responsibility, but on August 28th, 1877, the valiant Mom had given her soul to God, leaving her husband and her two elders the task of three children still young: Leonie 14, Celine 7, and Therese 4 years old. Very quickly the decision to leave Alençon was made and the family joined the Guerin family settled in Lisieux. On November 15th, 1877, Mr. Martin and his daughters had taken up residence in their new home at "The Buissonnets". Marie therefore shared with Pauline all the solicitude and the organization of family life. During the five years where they devoted to that task together, a deep union reigned between the two sisters. No surprise then that Marie was devastated when she learned that Pauline was going to enter Carmel. This decision was for Marie a huge sacrifice. She was far from thinking of imitating her and yet she had no plans for a specific future; but God was going to reveal her to herself...

Religious vocation

It was in 1882 on the occasion of a ministry in Lisieux that Father Pichon met the family. He was surrounded by a reputation of holiness and great influence in the field of spiritual direction. Here is a faithful account of one of the first conversations with him in the confessional: "He gave me a few questions, asked if I wanted to be a nun. - No Father. - What do you want to do? You want to get married? - Oh! no – Remain an old maid? - Oh no
of course! – So what? "

And the conversation continued, he gaved some opinion, and this conclusion: "As for me, I hope to give you to Jesus. " He was indeed quick to detect the religious vocation alive in the heart of the young woman and allow her soul to move gradually in peace to the One who had thrown on her such a special gaze of love.

Before Marie took action, several years were to pass. In the absence of Pauline, she was so needed by her Father and her sisters. It is the time where she will play a decisive role for Therese. Tireless in her dedication to the sick little girl of 1883, her prayer will be answered instantly by the smile of the Virgin Marie and the healing of Therese.
From the time of her First Communion, let’s recall what Therese wrote herself of Marie. “I sat on her lap and listened eagerly to everything she said to me. It seemed to me her large and generous heart passed into my own." (Ms A, 33 r °) Marie became the confidante of the crisis of scruples of her goddaughter, she had the secret of wisdom and firmness necessary to allow Therese to liberate herself.

Finally, on October 15th, 1886, Marie crossed the threshold of Carmel of Lisieux, sweeping aside her last resistances. Her vocation was deep, but no attraction drew her, none at all. "I was only wondering how I would spend the rest of my life between these four walls, "she confessed to Mother Agnes de Jesus in her intimate memories. However, she went resolutely into her new life. Under the appearance of independence, her faith had increased in her soul a thirst that only God could fill. She writes that her monastery is "a little paradise on earth, almost heavenly." And she comments on her life with long lines of enthusiam in a letter to her father, 12-31-1888: I am so happy with my lot.

After her clothing (March 19th, 1887), her solmen profession came on May 22nd, 1888, sealing the covenant with her Lord. Thérèse was there to witness, a young postulant from April 9th of that year.

With Therese and in her wake

Marie was still opposed to this precocious entry of Therese, alleging her very young age and the great sorrow that their Father would experience. But God showed his will and the godmother silenced the objections inspired to her by her realism and her good heart.

Under the same roof, Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart and her goddaughter will mingle for nine years, sharing prayer and work, joys and sacrifices of their austere lifestyle, where silence and loneliness alternate with opportunities for exchange and meeting. Together they carried the heavy ordeal of the psychiatric disease that afflicted their revered father.

For Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart, Thérèse wrote several poems; mainly "Just for today "(1894)" In the Sacred Heart of Jesus " (1895) "What I see for the first time soon" (1896), and also upon her request the latest composition of May 1897 "Why I love you, O Marie ".
It was at the insistence of Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart that we have the Manuscript A, that first part of the Story of a Soul consisting of childhood memories. They were requested by Mother Agnes, but upon the request of Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart, energetic and convincing, "You see, it's an angel who will not stay long on the earth, we will have lost all these details, so interesting for us." Providential insistence, with incalculable consequences!

Not to mention the epistolary exchanges which will give rise to the pages of Manuscript B in September 1896, where Therese clarifies for her godmother her whole doctrine on the Way of childhood ...
Therese knew her big sister through the projections of her character and nonconformist attitudes. She also knew the deep attraction of her heart: her thirst for God, her concern for souls, her detachment from ephemeral realities. And reciprocally, Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart saw her goddaughter living, she also knew her love for God, and her intuition was gradually emerging, "One day, she writes, I watched her go under the cloister and I thought that no one here is aware of the sanctity of this soul. It's no wonder, because she was simplicity itself. "
Gradually, she adopted the ways of Therese , receiving with docility information and advice. Sometimes both sisters were not spontaneously on the same wavelength, like when Therese suggested she offer herself to Merciful Love: "Of course not !” replied Marie. I will not offer myself as a victim. God would take me at my word, and suffering makes me too scared. First of all, that word of victim displeases me a lot."  Then she gave in when she understood that it was a total gift to Love, a offering to the invasion of Mercy.

Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart was among those who kept watch over Therese during the last night of her life. Witnessing her death, she says, "I felt the assurance that God had answered her prayer and that it was love that had broken the link of her life as she had desired. "(Apostolic Process) She will add: "The day after her death, after an act of charity, I felt her soul approaching mine in such a feeling of joy that I can’t express it. "(idem)

A tough climb: the final steps

Like her sisters, Marie didn’t think of the Canonization of Sister Therese of the Child Jesus. But the publication of Story of a Soul unleashed the enthusiasm and Carmel quickly found itself faced with multiple demands dictated by the events. Then followed years of hard work, and Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart put her hand to the work, yet without being called to take a part as preponderant as Mother Agnes and Sister Genevieve. She was the friend of modest tasks and of fantasy, never very punctual, always somewhat "bohemian" into the cloister, she went her way, meditating the life and message of her sister. Marveling at God's plans, she always engaged more in this path of trust and love offered to souls and declared to the world by the beatification and Canonization of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus.
In Spring of 1893 from the pen of Sister Marie of the Angels, Marie was described as "Soul beloved of God whose celestial smile, whose clarity of gaze and goodness of facial features reveal the richness of this heart of gold who, fierce lion, unites a humility that does not know susceptibility. Beautiful judgment and a spirit with the art of knowing how to say anything with a unique charm. Soul of faith, seeing things not on the earthly side but from heaven ... A rustic canvas apron, large well shod clogs, a garden fork, a rake, pruning shears, that is the favorite outfit of Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart, which doesn’t prevent her from succeeding wonderfully in the most delicate works. "
Over the years, her health is seriously altered, especially by rheumatism. More and more she will bear this cross of affliction for twenty years, becoming almost completely paralyzed. Hard school for independent Marie. However, neither anguish of such a situation, nor the groans of suffering will diminish her faith. "At the banquet of my life - she wrote in her private notes – God was not mistaken. He saved the best wine for the end."

And also:" At times when I think of little Therese, who is from our family and such a great saint, I'm struck and tears come to my eyes... For if she leaves me in this state of weakness is that surely great graces are hidden under there. "

On October 15th, 1936, her Golden Jubilee of religious life is celebrated. The one that liked neither the pomp nor honors was not part of "the wedding", but she accepted "To do the will of God."

She still had three years to live, enclosed within infirmities, while abandonment and trust increased: "What have I done in Carmel? Nothing. It was about time that God gives me a more profitable job. What I do in my old age is merely to suffer a little to save souls. The Lord is too good to have chosen for me all that is most opposed to my tastes, and I thank him with all my heart. It is he who knows what he wants of me and I completely entrust myself to him." (October 22nd, 1939).
Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart was about to reach 80 years when she gave up her soul to God after a few days of acute illness. It was on January 19th, 1940, during the early hours of the day. Her last intelligible words were an act of love, kissing her crucifix, "I love you", and one of her last reflections had shown her great apostolic concern: "Souls! souls! ... There are so many who do not love the good God! Oh! how sad! "

A few days earlier, she had written to Mother Agnes of Jesus in preparation for her Feast day of January 21st: "I often wondered," what shall we do all eternity in heaven? And these words of Our Lord suddenly came to mind: "The Eternal life is to know You, You and Him that You have sent. "

It's not too much of eternity to know the infinite goodness of God, his infinite power, his infinite mercy, his infinite love for us. These are our eternal delights that will know no satiety; our heart is made for them."

Back to the home page of Marie Martin