The farmhouse at Semalle, near Alencon, where St. Therese lived for a year as a baby will be blessed and opened to pilgrims, May 20. 2017

Above is a video of the restored farmhouse in Semalle, a small commune near Alencon, where St. Therese lived with the family of her wet-nurse, Rose Taille, from March 1873, when she was three months old, until April 1874, when, at 15 months, she returned to her family in Alencon. 

The farmhouse is to be blessed and opened to pilgrims on May 20, 2017

On Saturday,. May 20, 2017, the house of St. Therese's wet-nurse, Rose Taille, will be inaugurated and opened to pilgrims.  The property of the diocese of Sees since 1956, the house had been in ruins.  Pilgrims often drove by it, but it was impossible to enter.  Fr. Jean-Marie Simar, rector of the Shrine at Alencon, reports that the gift of an enthusiastic benefactor made it possible for the diocese to fund the first stage of the restoration.  Some of the work was done by professionals.  M. Guy Fournier,a deacon of the diocese of Sees and director of volunteers for the Shrine of Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin at Alencon, reports that for nearly two yearsthe Shrine's volunteers have dedicated many hours to restoring the house. 

I thank Quest-France for much of the above information.  See their story, with photos of the inside and outside of the house.  See a photo of the stained-glass window in the church at Semalle depicting St. Therese; the artist included a cow in the background! 

An early photo of the farmhouse at semalle where therese lived as a baby in 1873-1874.  at left, the farmer, moyse taille; at right, his wife, rose taille, known as "little Rose," Therese's wet-nurse.  PHOTO CREDIT: THE SHRINE OF STS. LOUIS AND ZELIE MARTIN AT ALENCON.

An early photo of the farmhouse at semalle where therese lived as a baby in 1873-1874.  at left, the farmer, moyse taille; at right, his wife, rose taille, known as "little Rose," Therese's wet-nurse.  PHOTO CREDIT: THE SHRINE OF STS. LOUIS AND ZELIE MARTIN AT ALENCON.

Rose Taille and the Martin family

Rose Taille, the wife of Moyse Taille, a countrywoman in whom Zelie and Louis had great confidence, saved Therese's life by serving as her wet-nurse when breastfeeding was the only way to save her life.  She took Therese to her own home where Therese lived among her children. Rose had earlier nursed the two little Josephs, the baby sons of Louis and Zelie, each of whom died before his first birthday.  Later, after Zelie's death, when Louis moved to Lisieux, his mother did not want to change towns, so he entrusted her to the care of Rose Taille. 

The program for inauguration day

The Shrine of Louis and Zelie Martin at Alencon announces the program of the inauguration on May 20:

  • Mgr Jacques Habert, bishop of Sees, will bless the house at 10:00 a.m.
  • Mass will be celebrated in the village church at 11:00 a.m., followed by a toast, a picnic lunch, and a walk to the house followed by a group visit

St. Therese's Poem, "The Divine Dew, or the Virginal Milk of Mary"

The little girl who had to leave home because she could not be breast-fed there grew up to associate this nourishment not only with the saving of her earthly life but with salvation itself.  See the image Therese kept of Mary nursing the child Jesus.  The title of Therese's first poem, "The Divine Dew, or the Virginal Milk of Mary," shows that the mystery of the child Jesus being breast-fed by his mother never ceased to fascinate her:  "Your divine blood is Virginal Milk!" Thanks to the Web site of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux.  For a fuller explanation of the doctrinal background of this daring poem, which unites the childhood of Jesus, Mary's nourishing him, the Incarnation, and the Eucharist, see the introduction to this poem in The Poetry of Saint Therese of Lisieux, tr. Donald Kinney, O.C.D. (Washington, D.C.: ICS Publications, 1996), pp. 35-37.  The introductions and notes, which greatly enrich our understanding of the poems, are not available online. 

A prayer of thanksgiving

Please congratulate the diocese of Sees, the shrine of Sts. Louis and Zelie, and all the generous persons who have made it possible for pilgrims to visit this sacred space.  Offer a prayer of thanksgiving for their faithful stewardship.  May God allow it to be not merely a visit to an historic house but a place to be drawn more deeply into the mystery of how Jesus nourishes us with the Eucharist as Mary nourished Him with her virginal milk.