The parents of Saint Therese of Lisieux, Louis and Zelie Martin, will be canonized on October 18, coinciding with the Synod on the Family, which takes place at the same time in the Vatican.
“Thanks be to God…two spouses, parents of Saint Therese of Lisieux, will be canonized,” said Cardinal Angelo Amato, stressing the importance of sanctity in the family. “Saints are not only priests and nuns, but also lay people,” pointed out Cardinal Amato, referring to this exemplary French married couple.
Married in 1858, they had nine children, five of whom followed the religious life. The 218 letters that are kept of Zelie, written from 1863 until her death in 1877, record the rhythm of life with the War of 1870, the economic crises, and the births and death of their four babies.
Daily Mass at 5:30 a.m., Angelus and Vespers, rest on Sundays, fasting during Lent and Advent - but also jokes and games, as Louis liked to fish and play billiards. They invited poor people to dine in their home and they visited the elderly. They also taught their daughters to treat the underprivileged as equals.
Zelie died of a very painful cancer at 46. Louis was left with five very young daughters: Marie, Pauline, Leonie, Celine and Therese, who was only four and a half years old, but who always remembered her Mother as a Saint. Louis died in 1894, after suffering a serious mental illness.
Benedict XVI beatified both parents on October 19, 2008. Their canonization will be the first joint canonization of a married couple. Many have proposed their life of daily holiness as a model for our time.