Update from Fr. J. Linus Ryan, O. Carm., Director of the St. Therese National Office in Dublin, Ireland
In early July 2008 Father Ryan sent me this letter; I thank him for his kind permission to post it.
Lisieux, the quiet market town in Normandy, France, for over a hundred years associated with the miracle worker, St. Therese, the Little Flower, continues to be in the news. The parents of St. Therese, Venerable Louis and Zelie Martin, will have the 150th anniversary of their marriage feted on Sunday, July 13. The Vatican's prefect of the Congregation for Causes of Saints, Cardinal Saraiva Martins, will preside at the special ceremonies to mark the occasion. The cause of the parents has been under canonical investigation since 1958, and, in approving their heroic virtue on March 24, 1994, Pope John Paul II declared them venerable. Both their bodies were recently exhumed (May 26th) in preparation for their veneration in their final resting place in the Basilica of St. Therese from 8th September next. The new special reliquary which will receive both bodies as their permanent home has been donated by an Irish family. This reliquary will be officially known in Lisieux as the "Irish Reliquary." Msgr. Bernard Lagoutte, rector of the Lisieux Shrine, said in a recent address that "Ireland has led the world in the promotion of the cause of the Parents of St. Therese." At a time when the traditional family is being undermined worldwide, the witness of this heroic couple will be a great beacon of hope to those seeking to promote the traditional basic marriage and family values. Apart from the wonderful ceremonies envisaged, including a solemn Pontifical Mass, a magnificent family exhibition has now opened in the ancient Church of St. Jacques, now a permanent exhibition centre. This magnificent exhibition, which is already drawing plaudits from around the world, will continue until the end of October.
Devotees of St. Therese are prayerfully optimistic that the celebration might also be enhanced by good news on the Cause of Venerable Louis and Zelie. The work on the Cause has been completed, and the file rests on the Holy Father's desk for a final decision. He alone can decide. We pray and we hope.
Zelie and Louis, who both come from strong French military backgrounds, had both earlier attempted to enter religious life, but God had other plans. They married on 13th July 1858 and had, in all, nine children, four of whom died in infancy, two boys and two girls. Despite the unspeakable anguish of these deaths, their faith never wavered. Zelie died as a young woman from breast cancer. She endured the excruciating pain without painkillers. All five surviving daughters became nuns, four of whom, including Therese, became Carmelites.
The 46th Annual National Carmelite Pilgrimage to Lisieux for the feast day of St. Therese, led by Father Ryan, departs from Dublin on Thursday, September 25th. Those interested, phone Celine at 018387281 or Father Ryan at 014997050.