(Vatican Radio) On Sunday, 18 October, Pope Francis canonized Sts. Louis and Zélie Martin, the parents of Saint Thérèse de Lisieux.
Although the couple are mostly known as the parents of the Little Flower, their marriage can serve as an example for married couples today.
“It is so modern in many ways,” said Joseph Meaney, the director of international coordination at Human Life International, who has written about the new saints.
Listen to the interview with Joseph Meaney:
Meaney points to the fact Zélie was the breadwinner of the family, running a lace-making business. In addition, when she died 1877 at the age of 45, Louis had to raise their children on his own.
“In the beginning [of their marriage], they were actually living as brother-and-sister,” Meaney told Vatican Radio. “A priest actually told them they should really consummate their marriage, and, of course, the fruit of that – their ninth child – was Saint Thérèse.”
Although the family was happy, it suffered quite a bit. In addition to the early death of St. Zélie, four of their children died quite young.
“It is very interesting to see how the whole family reacted [to their grief] in different ways,” Meaney said.
“Actually Saint Thérèse herself had a whole problem of becoming hypersensitive: She was crying all the time, becoming a real problem child,” he explained.
“She had a real conversion in church one day, and really almost a mystical experience, and it led toward her path to sanctity,” continued Meaney. “But the whole family was very affected by all these deaths, and it really actually brought them closer to the Church, because that sorrow, they found no solution for it in the world, they had to really turn to the Sacraments and the Church for that comfort.”
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