Piat, Stephane-Joseph. The moving family life of Therese of Lisieux, 21 illustrations. 459pp PBK
Pope St. Pius X called St. Thérèse the Little Flower "the greatest Saint of modern times"; Pope Pius XI declared her co-patroness of the Missions throughout the entire world with St. Francis Xavier; and the Pope Pius XII declared her co-patroness of France with St. Joan of Arc. Yet St. Thérèse died at just 24, having been a Carmelite nun only 9 years. What was the secret of her greatness? Giants in any sphere of human endeavor stand on the shoulders of giants. Nobody gets to heaven alone. We are all what our birth, our families, our education, our country, etc have helped to make us. In The Story of a Family, Fr. Stéphane-Joseph Piat has masterfully reconstructed for us the lives of Louis and Zélie Martin, St. Thérèse's parents, as well as those of her four sisters and close relatives, plus her own early life. In the process, he has produced one of the most moving books a Catholic will likely ever encounter. The life of the Martin family, though disciplined, ordered and holy, was far from being a calm, serene, uninterrupted joy. Louis and Zélie married relatively late in life-35 and 28-had 9 children, 4 of them died in infancy or quite young. They lived through the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) and had a quarter German troops in their home. Each ran a separate small business. As parents, they struggled with severe childhood illnesses in their children, plus a host of other problems. Zélie died of cancer at only 45, when St. Thérèse was only 4, leaving Louis to raise her and the other children. All 5 daughters entered a religious order. For a time, during his declining years, Louis had to be cared for in a severe debility by first a sanatorium and then by relatives. Nevertheless, Louis and Zélie met all their troubles with faith and heroism, such that the Martin girls, their relatives and even the parish priest declare that Louis and Zélie were saints. The Story of a Family is a tender and touching panorama of Catholic family life at its very best, a story that will thrill, motivate and inspire Catholic families so long as faith is alive. Whoever takes up this story is in for one of the great reading experiences of his life. For this story tears at the heart-strings as it reveals the making of a great, great Saint in the family context of what certainly has to have been the flower of French Catholic life.