Louis and Zelie married in France in 1858 and had nine children. They are famous for being the parents of St Thérèse of Lisieux, who died at 24 years and is well known for her ‘Little Way’. She became a Saint, was made Patroness of the Missions, even though she never even left her enclosure in the monastery and was also made a Doctor of the Church.
They had five daughters who entered a consecrated or religious life in the Church. We have 218 letters which were written by Zelie. They practiced hospitality, cared for the poor, and lived a devout Christian family life. They played, prayed, laughed and suffered. They record the naturally supernatural pattern of a very real, human and devout Catholic family.
The family lived through war, economic collapse, struggles, joy, celebrations, and both the births and deaths of children. In other words, they lived a real life in a real world. Zelie suffered from cancer and died at 45. Louis was left to raise five daughters. He died after suffering a difficult form of mental illness. Thérèse, who was very young at the time of her mother’s death, remembered her as a saint.
Now, the Church is telling the world the whole story and sending a marvellous message about marriage and family life. However, they lived it in the Lord and in the heart of the domestic church of the home. It was right there, in the stuff of daily family life, where
they became saints. We need to remember that the roots of Thérèse’s sanctity go back to her family life. She learned about Jesus and His call in her life. The two are connected.
This act of canonizing a married couple TOGETHER is a prophetic act in an age which has turned away from marriage and the family as the plan of the Creator. The Vatican has announced that Louis and Zelie Martin, the father and mother of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, will be canonised as Saints on October 18th 2015.
(adapted from http://www.catholic.org/saints/)