Introduction to a novena to Saints Louis and Zelie Martin,
the parents of Saint Therese of Lisieux
Father Jean-Claude Lange, pastor of Sainte-Therese parish in Metz, France, where devotion to Saints Louis and Zelie Martin has produced a profound spiritual renewal, generously permitted me to translate the novena to St. Therese and Louis and Zelie that is used in that parish and that appeared in French on the Web site of Saint Therese Church in Metz and to post it at "Saints Louis and Zelie Martin, the Parents of Saint Therese of Lisieux" Please feel free to link to it.
Note that this novena was written before they were canonized. The original novena prayer supplied by Sainte-Therese Parish in Metz naturally invites us to pray for their canonization. One may still pray this novena now that they have been canonized. Out of respect for the prayers offered before their canonization, I have continued to display that prayer for their canonization. To make it easier to pray the novena now that they are canonized saints, however, I have also inserted the "Prayer to Saints Louis and Zelie Martin" offered by the Shrine at Alencon, which was written after the canonization.
Novenas and the Martin family
The Martin family often prayed novenas for particular intentionsFor example:
- Zelie would make a novena for the conversion of a neighbor who was dying;
- the Poor Clares made a novena for Zelie's cure;
- when Louis was in the mental hospital, Celine told him that his family was going to pray a novena that he might be well enough to return to Lisieux;
- Therese made a novena to prepare for the 1891 community retreat during which she received such graces while confessing to Fr. Alexis Prou, and she made the novena of grace to St. Francis Xavier in March of her last year, 1897, for the intention that her desire to spend her heaven doing good on earth might be fulfilled.
So, while praying this novena, we can feel that we are doing what the Martins often did. It's also worth remembering that the miracles accepted for their beatification (the cure of Pietro Schiliro) and for their canonization (the healing of Carmen Perez Pons) were both cures that took place after the family, friends, and Carmelites of the very sick children offered a novena to Louis and Zelie.
How to pray this novena
You may pray it individually; with another person; as a family; or in a parish or other religious community or group. I hope it will bring you many graces.
Below is an introduction to the novena, including both prayers. My fervent thanks to Father Lange and to Mary Davidson, who translated the novena into English.
The Novena to Saints Louis and Zélie Martin
“The good God has given me a father and a mother more worthy of Heaven than of earth.” --L.T. 261
We are privileged to discover the beauty of a family home, the family of Mr. and Mrs. Martin and their nine children. Here is a novena to pray with them. Let us take a childlike attitude towards this extraordinary family. During this novena, may we imitate the faithfulness of the Martin family as they harmonized the rhythms of their lives with the Lord of Love. In our requests to the little brothers of St. Therese of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, let us find strength to support our priests and seminarians in the world today. In our requests to the sisters and brothers of St. Therese, may we find the boldness needed to defend the beauty of the family in today's world. May we rest in the discovery of the liturgy of the family that was so dear to Mr. Martin and Mrs. Martin. This daily liturgy was that of family memory, passing faithfulness on to their children in the image of St. Anne as she taught the Virgin Mary and in humility similar to St. Francis of Assisi.
Yes, as one may be inspired by the cover of a book, may we be drawn into peace and confidence in the ocean of love, to the quiet, deep and nourishing waters of the Mercy of the Father. Let us ask Our Father, Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, and Saint Anne for the healing needed to recognize the sanctity of the family of St. Therese of Lisieux. Let us not hesitate to entrust ourselves to the Divine Will as living stones of the Rosary of our lives.
"God created humans in the divine image; in the image of God God created them, male and female God created them" (Gen. 1-27)
What a joy is ours to experience daily God’s creation around us. Let us not hesitate to sing the anthem: “All you works of the Lord, bless the Lord; praise and exalt Him above all forever” (Dan. 3). Our ways on earth rise and fall, are light and dark, with both wetness and dryness, fog and fire. Everything is aimed at establishing a hymn to creation. Louis Martin described for his children the deep valleys and majestic peaks of the landscapes he loved. With his Little Queen Therese, he contemplated all Creation, including cypress trees and the sky in Italy. As a good father, he still leads us today to hear the rushing of the river and the songs of birds that speak of the earth. Louis Martin takes us to the edge of the sea and the sky, joyfully feeling the sea spray. With Therese he read in the stars the brilliance of God; he knew the sparrows and the eagles, snow like pollen on the stones of the Colosseum, the colors of the earth and her orchards. Thus, in the twilights and the dawns of Normandy, Louis Martin orchestrated his family music: his ode to God. He sang every night and recited a poem about the creator for his gathered family. And Zelie Martin, who understood the secret beauty of the snowflake, reproduced this beauty in lace, creating patterns for the holiday season and remembrances. In turn let us be aware of rhythm for our children, the time of the seasons and the times of life and small deaths. May we raise our hands to praise God in creation and thank him. With Louis and Zelie Martin let us rediscover the profound meaning of life borne in the divine spirit. Yes, let us find the desire of our life. “Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us. You are God, the giver of life. Cleanse us from all sin, for you are all good” (Liturgy of Vespers).
Daily Prayers: the "Our Father" and the "Hail Mary."
Prayers for each day of the novena:
Prayer to Saints Louis and Zelie Martin
Saints Louis and Zélie Martin,
after having had the desire for religious life,
you heard the Lord's call to the vocation of marriage.
You are the "parents without equal"
of whom your daughter Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus speaks;
the fortunate parents of Léonie,
the Servant of God, Sister Françoise-Thérèse;
of Marie, Pauline, and Céline,
transplanted to Mount Carmel;
and of the four children
taken from your affection in their youth:
Hélène, Joseph, Jean-Baptiste, and Mélanie-Thérèse.
You gave all glory to God
through your humble and patient work,
your commitment to the poor,
and your family life,
where reigned the happiness
of loving and being loved.
You lived your daily life concretely
through the joys and sorrows of your existence.
You love us as your own children,
with the heart of a father and the heart of a mother,
because you are the friends of God.
Listen to our prayer and our request
(state the request . . . )
and intercede for us with God the Father,
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
in the grace of the Holy Spirit.
Prayer courtesy of the Shrine of Sts. Louis and Zélie Martin at Alençon. See the original Prayer to Saints Louis and Zélie Martin in French.
Or, as an alternative: the original prayer for their canonization offered at Sainte-Therese Church in Metz: :
To Louis and Zelie Martin, parents of St. Therese of Lisieux; to Marie, Pauline, Leonie, Helene, Louis Joseph, Louis Jean Baptiste, Celine and Melanie:
"God Our Father,
I thank you for Louis and Zelie Martin,
a couple united in faith, giving the witness of an exemplary Christian life
through the exercise of the duty of their state in life
and the practice of the evangelical virtues.
In the education of a large family,
through trials, mourning, and suffering,
they generously expressed their trust in You
and their submission to Your will.
Deign to grant, O Lord, the graces that I seek,
in the hope that the father and mother of St. Therese of the Child Jesus
will one day be proposed as models for today's families for the entire Church.
Our Father… Hail Mary...
Below, for tomorrow, is a link to Day One: "The Meeting, God's Time"
Below, for your reference, is a link to the full novena: