The strong link of Saint Therese
WITH THE BASILICA
Therese’s mother, Zélie Martin, as well as her husband Louis, loved Our Lady of Victories and their trust in her is reflected for us in many of their letters. It was through them that Therese met her. A chapel is dedicated to them in the basilica.
On November 4th, 1887, a 14 year-old girl entered Our Lady of Victories Church accompanied by her father and one of her sisters…
You have recognized them, they are Therese, Louis and Céline Martin. On their way to Rome, they came to give thanks to Our Lady of Victories for a miracle obtained through her intercession a few years earlier.
It was March 1883. Therese, 10 years old, became seriously ill. Louis saw his « little queen » sink little by little. She no longer recognized him and one day he had to leave the room in tears because the little girl had cried out in fright when she saw him.
Louis, according to his own expression, « takes Heaven by storm » to save his Therese. He ordered a novena of masses to Our Lady of Victories. On May the 13th, 1883, Pentecost Sunday and the last day of the novena, Therese was lying in bed, in the worst shape. Her sisters Marie, Léonie and Céline were praying in front of the statue of the Virgin Mary which was next to the bed of the sick girl. Therese says:
« Finding no help on earth, poor little Therese had also turned to her heavenly Mother; she begged her with all her heart to have pity on her at last. Suddenly, the Blessed Virgin appeared to me beautiful, so beautiful that I had never seen anything so beautiful, her face breathed a kindness and an ineffable tenderness but which penetrated me until the bottom of the soul, it was the ravishing smile of the Blessed Virgin. Then, all my thoughts vanished, two big tears burst from my eyelids and ran silently down my cheeks, but they were tears of unmixed joy… Ah! I thought, the Blessed Virgin has smiled at me, how happy I am. »
« A miracle was needed and Our Lady of Victories provided it. »
Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face
Therese was healed and 4 years later, she came to give thanks to Mary by going to Our Lady of Victories.
She testifies to this in manuscript A of the History of a Soul:
« Our Lady of Victories! Ah! what I felt at her feet, I could not say it… The graces that she granted me moved me so deeply that my tears alone expressed my happiness, as on the day of my first Communion… The Blessed Virgin made me feel that it was really she who had smiled at me and had healed me. I understood that she was watching over me, that I was her child, so I could only give her the name of Mother because it seemed even more tender than that of Mother. With what fervor did I not beg her to keep me always and to soon realize my dream by hiding me in the shadow of her virginal mantle. »
The altar in front of which you are standing is dedicated to Saint Therese. It was consecrated in 1931 and the stained glass window above the altar commemorates her visit on November the 4th, 1887.
Therese, who entered Carmel, continued to maintain affectionate ties with her family and wrote many letters, 266 in all. In a letter to her cousin Marie Guérin in 1889, she wrote:
« You have to pray, pray a lot. If you could put a candle to Our Lady of Victories, I have so much faith in her. »
In 1897, when Therese was already very ill, the prioress of the Carmelite convent requested a new novena of masses to Our Lady of Victories.
« This venerated mother ordered a novena of masses to Our Lady of Victories, who had already cured me in my childhood, but I, feeling that the miracle would not take place, asked and obtained from the Blessed Virgin that she console my mother’s heart a little, or rather, that she make her consent that I Jesus take me to Heaven. »
On July the 16th, 1897, Therese was taken to the infirmary. A statuette of Our Lady of Victories was placed near her.
Therese’s last great poem composed in May 1897 is a Marian poem:
« You who came to smile at me
In the morning of my life,
Come and smile on me again
Mother… This is the evening! »
On September 30, 1897, Sister Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face entered into Life.
You know the rest!