Spiritual birth house of Saint Theresa of Lisieux at Alençon!!!

And I come to the end of my journey in Alençon and the most simple and beautiful of it all, alone worth the trip to the city. Alençon is in the Orne dept 61 of Normandy region. It was little known that it is actually the native town of Saint Théresa. I have passed by it several times, and stop in it without really looking forward to its sights until this past weekend with the boys.

She is better known as where she created her convents and followers flock to Lisieux ,Calvados dept 14 of Normandy. However, she was born at Alénçon and made her first pass towards the life that will carry her in her little 24 years of life. IN Alençon she spent the first 5 years of her life. I like to tell you a bit more on her here, bear with me please.

A bit on her and the family i will put pictures of the house of course and the hallway pictorial, the inside of the house and chapel no pictures are allow.

Louis, Joseph, Stanislas Martin (b. Bordeaux, 1823- d.Lisieux, Calvados, 1894), watchmaker, and his wife born Azélie-Marie Guérin called “Zélie ” (b. Gandelain, near Saint-Denis-sur-Sarthon, 1831- d Alençon, 1877) Lacemaker, belong to the small Bourgeoisie of Alençon. They were beatified on 19 October 2008 in Lisieux, for the exemplary of their life as a couple, and canonized in Rome on 18 October 2015 by Pope Francis. They are the parents of Thérèse of Lisieux, in religion Sister Therese of the Child-Jesus and the Holy Face and of her four sisters, all religious.   In 1858, on the Pont de Sarthe in Alençon, their looks intersect, they immediately understand that they are made for each other. Here begins your pilgrimage in the footsteps of these Saints who are so close to us by time and space.

From 1860 to 1873, Louis and Zélie Martin had nine children (seven daughters and two boys), four of whom died at an early age. Their five daughters become all religious: Marie (b. 22 February 1860-d. 19 January 1940), in religion Sister Mary of the Sacred Heart, Carmelite at Lisieux; Pauline (b. September 7, 1861- d. July 28, 1951), in Religion Mother Agnes of Jesus, Carmelite at Lisieux; Léonie (b. June 3, 1863- d. June 16, 1941), in religion Sister Françoise-Thérèse, Visitandine in Caen, buried in the crypt of the Chapel of the Monastery of the Visitandines of Caen. (beatification trial is open);   Céline (b. April 28, 1869-d. February 25, 1959), in religion Sister Geneviève de la Sainte-Face, Carmelite in Lisieux; and Thérèse, (b. January 2, 1873- d. September 30, 1897), in religion Sister Thérèse of the Child-Jesus and of the Holy Face, Carmelite in Lisieux, canonized in 1925. Françoise Marie Thérèse Martin is the last of a family of nine children the Martin family. Very often the family spends their holidays in Lisieux with Isidore Guérin, the brother of Zélie, pharmacist, and his wife Céline. Zélie also has a sister, Elise, Sister Marie-Dosithée, Visitandine at the Monastery of the Visitation at Le Mans. The elders Marie and Pauline will be boarders. Therese loses her mother at 4 and a half years and remains very marked. Marie and Pauline, the two eldest daughters will then take over the three youngest; until they entered the Carmel of Lisieux.

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Sainte Thérèse de Lisieux, Doctor of the Catholic Church known as Thérèse Martin, daughter of Louis and Zélie Martin, marked the Norman religious history, Ornaise and more precisely alençonnaise. It is in this same Church Notre-Dame (now Basilica minor see previous post and picture below) that St. Theresa will be baptized. Her baptismal dress is still on display. You can admire a contemporary stained glass window that represents the ceremony and the baptistery. The funeral of Zélie (her mother) will also be celebrated in 1877 at Notre Dame Church. Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, better known as Saint Theresa of Lisieux or Saint Theresa of the Child-Jesus was canonized in 1925. She will also return to the Carmel of Lisieux at the age of 15 and remain there until she is struck by tuberculosis. The disease will take off on September 30, 1897 in her 24 yrs of life.

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Saint Theresa will be considered one of the greatest nuns of the 20C, following the enthusiasm aroused by her posthumous publications. Pope Pius XI saw in her the star of her pontificate. In 1997, Pope John Paul II made her the 33rd Doctor of the Catholic Church. It is at the origin of a new theology called the “Little Voice” which consists in carrying out trivial acts of everyday life for the sake of God. In 1877, her father moved to Lisieux in the House of the Buissonnets with his 5 daughters. It is a retired home, where the Martin family lives in solitude away from the city. In 1887, Louis Martin took his daughters Céline and Thérèse to the diocesan pilgrimage to Rome, and she claimed Ah! … these beauties of nature… I didn’t have enough eyes to look at. Standing at the door I almost lost my breath; I wanted to be on both sides of the wagon. During this stay, Theresa has the audacity to ask the Pope for permission to enter the Carmel at age of 15 despite the opposition of the superiors. The bishop finally gives her their permission. Thérèse pronounces her final vows on September 8, 1890, at the age of 17 and a half, in the hands of Mother Mary of Gonzaga, her protector Mother.

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In 1894, Thérèse wrote her first pious recreations or small plays, played on the days of big parties by some sisters for the rest of the community. She also writes spiritual poems.   On July 29, 1894, Louis Martin, her father died. Her sister Céline enters the Carmel of Lisieux on September 14, 1894. In August 1895, the four Martin sisters were joined by their cousin, Marie Guérin. At the end of 1894, Thérèse discovers her little path and experiences it more and more, to offer herself to the merciful Love. On June 9, 1895 at the request of her Sister Pauline, Mother Agnes of Jesus, she undertakes the writing of her childhood memories, which will become a part of the book of memories Histoire d’une âme (History of a Soul).

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On the night of Thursday to Friday Saint 1896, Therese spits blood.. A few days later, she is plunged into the thickest spiritual darkness of which she will no longer come out. On 30 May, Mother Mary of Gonzaga entrusted her with a second missionary after Abbé Bellière, Father Rathod, of the Foreign Missions of Paris, who was about to leave for China. He will be a true soul brother to her. Therese’s health is deteriorating quickly, she suffers a lot. She is located in the infirmary of the monastery. Mother Agnes and sister Geneviève begin to note the words of their sister. In June, at the suggestion of Mother Agnes, mother Mary of Gonzaga asks Therese to note her Carmelite memories. What she does during this month of June, using her last forces. It will end the manuscript with the word Amour (love), as each of all her autobiographical manuscripts. On September 30, 1897 at night, she died at the age of 24. She says “I’m not dying, I’m entering life.” Built in her honor, the Basilica of Lisieux is the second largest pilgrimage site in France after Lourdes.

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And the place still under the ownership of the Bishop diocese of Sees, and religious folks is very moving with a touching personal tour. Hope you enjoy it and do visit is also part of the history of France,and many French do follow it. In been there ,there were mothers with little girls been told how to pray and follow up the tour,then they ask to go back to the Chapel alone.. Alençon is  nice indeed

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Passing quickly on the sidewalk, it is difficult to locate the chapel dedicated to St. Teresa of Lisieux. It is nestled between two houses, one of the two being the house of the Martin family, the parents of St. Theresa, a house that is possible to visit. It is also the birthplace of the Future Saint . The Chapel is built between 1925 and 1928. It obviously gives access to the house of Martin. We see a room from the chapel. The place is obviously dedicated to the Holy One, died of tuberculosis at 24 years old! . One of the walls is covered with an impressive cloak of ex-voto. The altar and its beautiful altarpiece are contemporary creations. The Chapel was built on an annex house purchase by the Bishop of Sees to created it next to the house where she was born. 52 rue Blaize is her native house, next the Chapel is at 54 Rue Blaize.

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Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and more info are

tourist office of Alencon on Sainte Theresa

official parents site on jubilee 160 yrs

Tourist office of Alencon on the native home of St Theresa

Tourist office dept Orne 61 on native house of St Theresa

Official Religious site on St Theresa of Lisieux

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

 

 

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