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Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, O.C.D.
Doctor of the Church
Feast Day: October 1st
Patronage: florists; foreign missions; missionaries; pilots; against tuberculosis; AIDS sufferers; illness; loss of parents; Australia; France; Russia; Diocese of Fairbanks, Alaska; Diocese of Fresno, California; Diocese of Juneau, Alaska; Diocese of Pueblo, Colorado.
Today is the memorial of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, more popularly known as "the Little Flower." Although just an obscure cloistered Carmelite nun, she has had universal appeal since her death in 1897. Saint Thérèse is the patroness of all foreign missions and patroness of France. Her feast day was formerly October 3.
Saint Marie Thérèse Martin was born at Alençon, France on January 2, 1873, the youngest of five daughters. Her father, Saint Louis, was a watchmaker, and her mother, Saint Zelie, who died of breast cancer when Thérèse was four, was a lace maker. She was brought up in a model Christian home. While still a child she felt the attraction of the cloister, and at fifteen obtained permission to enter the Carmel of Lisieux.
For the next nine years she lived a very ordinary religious life. There are no miracles, exploits or austerities recorded of her. She attained a very high degree of holiness by carrying out her ordinary daily duties with perfect fidelity, having a childlike confidence in God's providence and merciful love and being ready to be at the service of others at all times. She also had a great love of the Church and a zeal for the conversion of souls. She prayed especially for priests.
She died of consumption on September 30, 1897, at the age of 24, and was canonized in 1925. She has never ceased to fulfill her promise: "I will pass my heaven in doing good on earth." Her interior life is known through her autobiography called Story of a Soul. Pope John Paul II declared her a Doctor of the Church in 1997.