Saints in the Little Flower family grow as parents set for canonization
Marta Jimenez and Elise Harris
.- Last week it was informally announced to journalists that the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux, Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin, will be canonized this year in the same month as the synod on the family.
“Thanks to God in October two spouses will be canonized: the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux,” Angelo Amato Cardinal Amato said during a Feb. 27 encounter organized by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
Entitled “What purpose do the Saints serve?” the event highlighted the importance of the holiness within the family.
Cardinal Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, announced that Louis and Zelie Martin will be canonized in October of this year, the same month in which the Synod of Bishops on the family will take place in the Vatican.
“The saints are not only priests and religious, but also lay persons,” the cardinal said, referring to the French spouses.
The cardinal’s announcement comes a short time after Bishop Jean-Claude Boulanger, who oversees the French diocese of Bayeuz-Lisieux, revealed his intention to open the cause of beatification for St. Therese’s older sister Leonia Martin.
Referred to by Bishop Boulanger as Therese’s “difficult” sister, Leonia was the third of Louis and Zelie’s nine children, and a member of the Order of the Visitation.
Louis and Zelie were beatified Oct. 19, 2008, by then-Pope Benedict XVI and their canonization will be the first of its kind in history, where a married couple are jointly proclaimed Saints together.
Their path to the altar has surpassed that of married couple Bl. Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi, who were beatified together in October 2001.
Married in 1858 just 3 months after meeting each other, Louis and Zelie lived in celibacy for nearly a year, but eventually went on to have nine children. Four died in infancy, while the remaining five daughters entered religious life.
Both had previously attempted to enter the religious life themselves – Louis as a monk and Zelie a nun with the Order of the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul.
Zelie was turned away due to respiratory problems and frequent headaches, while Louis was denied entry because he couldn’t speak Latin, which at that time was a requirement for entering the seminary. Louis then became a watchmaker, and Zelie a lace maker.
Known for living an exemplary life of holiness, the couple’s daily practices included Mass at 5:30 a.m., praying the Angelus and Vespers, resting on Sundays and fasting during Lent and Advent.
The couple would also invite poor people to dine with them in their home, and they frequently visited the elderly, thus teaching their children to treat the disadvantaged as equals.
Zelie died from cancer at the age of 46, leaving Louis to care for their five young daughters: Marie, Pauline, Leonie, Celine and Therese, who was only four at the time. Louis died in 1894 after suffering two strokes in 1889, followed by five years of serious drawn-out illness.