Saint Therese of Lisieux and her parents,
the holy spouses Louis and Zelie Martin



The mother of Therese, Zelie Martin, together with her husband Louis, worshipped Our Lady of Victories and their faith in Her is expressed in several of their letters. It is therefore through them that she got to know Her. A chapel is dedicated to them in the basilica.


Therese writes about her recovery through the intercession of Our Lady of Victories, on May 13th 1883:

“One day, I saw Papa enter Marie’s room where I was in bed; he gave her several pieces of gold with an expression of great sadness and told her to write to Paris and have some Masses said at ‘Notre Dame des Victoires’ so that She would cure his poor little girl. Ah! How touched I was to see my dear King’s faith and love! I would have loved to be able to tell him I was cured; but I had already given him enough false joys, and it was not my desires that would work a miracle, and a miracle was necessary for my cure…

A miracle was necessary and it was Our Lady of Victories who worked it.

Finding no help on earth, poor little Therese had also turned toward the Mother of Heaven, and prayed with all her heart that She take pity on her… All of a sudden the Blessed Virgin appeared beautiful to me, so beautiful that never had I seen anything so attractive; her face was suffused with an ineffable benevolence and tenderness, but what penetrated to the very depth of my soul was the “ravishing smile of the Blessed Virgin”. At that instant, all my pain disappeared, and two long tears glistened on my eyelashes, and flowed down my cheeks silently”.

In 1887, Therese goes on a pilgrimage to Rome with the intention to meet the Pope and ask the permission to enter the Carmel at the age of 15. She travels via Paris. Together with her father Louis and her sister Celine, Therese comes on November 4th to thank Our Lady of Victories for her intercession and ask Her to watch over her Carmelite vocation.

“We reached Paris in the morning and commenced our visit without any delay. Poor little Father tired himself out trying to please us and very soon we saw all the marvels of the Capital. I myself found only one which filled me with delight, Our Lady of Victories. Ah! What I felt kneeling down at her feet cannot be expressed. The graces she granted me so moved me that my happiness found expression only in tears, just as on the day of my First Communion…

The Blessed Virgin made me feel it was really Herself who smiled on me and brought about my cure. I understood that She was watching over me, that I was Her child. I could no longer give Her any other name but Maman, as this appeared ever so much more tender than Mother…

How fervently I begged Her to protect me always, to bring to fruition as quickly as possible my dream of hiding beneath the shadow of the virginal mantle!”

 It is, so to say, a communion of vocation with develops between the ‘Blessed Virgin Refuge of Sinners’ and ‘Sister Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face’, willing to give her life for the conversion of sinners. Therese knows that what Jesus is asking her is to sit at the table of sinners:

“During the Paschal days, so full of joy, Jesus made me understand that there really are in truth souls bereft of Faith and Hope, who, through abuse and grace, lose these precious treasures, the only source of pure and true joy. 

But, dear Lord, Your child has understood your divine light, she is asking Your pardon for her unbelieving brothers, she is willing to eat the bread of sorrow as long as you may wish and she will stay sitting at the table of bitterness where these poor sinners take their food until the day You will set… But may she not say in her own name and the name of her brothers: “Be merciful to us, dear Lord, because we are poor sinners!”

 At last, in 1897, as Therese was already quite ill, Mother Marie de Gonzague, prioress of the Carmel, asked for a new novena of masses in ‘Notre Dame des Victoires’ for a new recovery.

The novena was held between June 5th and 13th. An improvement occurred, but then the illness resumed. On July 16th Therese is brought down to the infirmary. A little statuette of Our Lady of Victories was placed beside her.

The last poem of Therese is a Marian poem (PN 54). It is long (25 verses of 8 lines) and includes all which she calls her Marian doctrine. Let us recall here verses 22 and 25 where the allusion is clear:

You love us, Mary, as Jesus loves us
And for us you accept being separated from Him.
To love is to give everything. It is to give oneself
You wanted to prove this by remaining our support.

The Saviour knew your immense tenderness
He knew the secrets of your maternal heart,
Refuge of sinners, He leaves us to you
When He leaves the Cross to wait for us in Heaven.

(…)

Soon I will hear that sweet harmony
Soon I will go to beautiful Heaven to see you
You who came to smile at me in the morning of my life

Come smile at me again…Mother…It is evening now! …
I no longer fear the splendour of your supreme glory,
With you I have suffered, and now I want
To sing on your lap, Mary, why I love you,
And to go on saying that I am your child! …

Her last prayer is also Marian. A few words, traced with a shaking hand holding a pencil. They are also the last words she wrote, her last autograph. The date is September 8th 1897, the anniversary of her religious profession:

“O, Mary, if I were the Queen of Heaven and you were Therese, I would want to be Therese so that you would be the Queen of Heaven! …”