"Leonie!", a feature film about Leonie Martin, the sister of St. Therese of Lisieux, to be released in the United States in 2010

I am delighted to announce that "Leonie!," a feature film about Leonie Martin, the sister of St. Therese of Lisieux, is scheduled to be released in the United States in the summer of 2010.  The film is being shot in Michigan and at the Visitation Monastery in Toledo, Ohio in July and August 2009.  Barbara Middleton is the executive producer, and Joe Maher wrote the script and is directing the film.  For news stories and a radio show about the film, please see below.

"Big project to hit big screen," by Catherine Minolli. The Tri-City Times, July 22, 2009.

"Made in Michigan,"by Matt December.  The Source, July 19, 2009

"Local girls land leads in major film shot in Romeo," by Chris Gray.  The Romeo Observer, July 2009.

"Film producers find perfect 'set' in Romeo," by Chris Gray.  The Romeo Observer, July 2009.

"Lights! Camera! Action! :Historic Warren schoolhouse picked as movie set for 'Leonie!'; 1875 Romeo House Next Stop," by Norb Franz. The Macomb Daily, July 9, 2009.  {I regret that this article has now disappeared from the newspaper's Web site].

For the life of Leonie Martin, read 

Leonie Martin: A Difficult Life. by Marie Baudouin-Croix.  (Click on the image for information; new copies now available (February 2015) as e-books!).

For a reflection about Leonie Martin, see

"Leonie Martin," a spiritual newsletter of Clairval Abbey, whom I thank for permission to post it here.

For more online information about Leonie's life, see

A happy birthday to Leonie Martin, sister of St. Therese of Lisieux

Today is the birthday of Leonie Martin, the sister of St. Therese, who was born at Alencon on June 3, 1863.  Leonie was a special-needs child.  When she was a child, Louise Marais, the Martins' maid at Alencon, abused her.  Leonie had a hard time  finding her place in the world, and entered religious life four times before she finally persevered.  She was an early disciple of the "way of confidence and love" of her little sister. 

In October 2008 I visited the Monastery of the Visitation at Caen and saw the door through which Leonie entered definitively on January 28, 1899, declaring "The next time I leave here, it will be in my coffin!"  Sister Francoise-Therese, the present-day archivist of the community, laughingly pointed out the irony that the body of Leonie, whose religious name was also Sister Francoise-Therese, has never left the Visitation because she was buried in the crypt, where I visited her tomb. 

Praying at Leonie's tomb, I received a unique grace.  Unexpectedly, I remembered the times in my life that I'd been deeply hurt, and I felt Leonie, who was treated so badly and yet grew into a loving, generative person, assuring me that the wounds these experiences had left were no obstacle to sanctity.  I understood why so many parents of special children commend them to her, and why so many people who struggle to find a place in life invoke her prayers. 

To learn more about Leonie's life, please see the "Letter from Clairval Abbey."  Or purchase her excellent biography in English, "Leonie Martin: A Difficult Life" by Marie Baudoin-Croix.

When Therese lay dying, Leonie, then 34, had failed three attempts at religious life and was living as a laywoman with her uncle and aunt. On July 17, 1897, in her last letter to Leonie, Therese wrote:

The only happiness on earth is to apply oneself in always finding delightful the lot Jesus is giving us. Your lot is so beautiful, dear little sister; if you want to be a saint, this will be easy for you since at the bottom of your heart the world is nothing to you. You can, then, like us [like her four Carmelite sisters] occupy yourself with "the one thing necessary"; that is to say, while you give yourself up devotedly to exterior works, your purpose is simple: to please Jesus, to unite yourself more intimately with Him. 

You want me to pray in heaven to the Sacred Heart for you.  Be sure that I shall not forget to give Him your messages and to ask all that will be necessary for you to become a great saint.

Leonie was born in the month of the Sacred Heart and died in the same month, on June 16, 1941.  In this month of the Sacred Heart, may she help us understand "the abysses of love and mercy of the Heart of Jesus."



February 25, 2009 is the fiftieth anniversary of the death of St. Therese's last surviving sister

February 25, 2009 marks fifty years since Sister Genevieve of the Holy Face and Saint Therese, the last surviving sister of St. Therese of Lisieux, died in the Carmel of Lisieux on February 25, 1959.  Born Marie Celine Martin, she lived at home with St. Therese until Therese entered Lisieux Carmel on April 9, 1888.  For more than six years, while Celine lived as a laywoman and looked after their father, who was ill, the sisters were separated.  After the death of Blessed Louis Martin, Celine entered the Carmel on September 14, 1894.  As a novice she learned her sister's "way of confidence and love," of which she was a tireless apostle all her life.  She made the offering of herself to Merciful Love with St. Therese on June 11, 1895, and she was the first person to read the childhood memories Therese wrote in 1895 (later the first part of "Story of a Soul").  She looked after St. Therese during her illness.  She painted a famous image of the Holy Face of Jesus and many other portraits, especially of her sister.  She testified at the processes for Therese's beatification and canonization and at the diocesan processes for the cause of her mother and her father, Blessed Zelie and Louis Martin.

For significant dates in Sister Genevieve's life, please see the Web site of the Shrine at Lisieux.

For the powerful correspondence between Therese and Celine, please see  The Letters of St. Therese of Lisieux (Volume I, 1877-1890; Volume II, 1890-1897) on this page.

For Celine's memoir of her sister, please see "My Sister Saint Therese" at the bottom of this page.

For "Celine: Sister and Witness of St. Therese of the Child Jesus," a biography by Franciscan Father Stephane-Joseph Piat, please see the bottom of this page.