Saint Thérèse de Lisieux (January 2, 1873 - September 30, 1897), or more properly Sainte Thérèse de l'Enfant-Jésus ("Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus "), born Marie-Françoise-Thérèse Martin, was a Roman Catholicnun who was canonised as a saint. She is also known by many as "The Little Flower of Jesus."
Her mother died in 1877, when Thérèse was only four years old, and her father, unable to continue to work, sold his business and moved to Lisieux, in the Calvados region of Normandy. When Thérèse was nine years old, her oldest sister Pauline, who had acted as a "second mother" to Thérèse, entered the Carmelite order of nuns. During the next year, Thérèse repeatedly expressed her wish to become a nun also, but the bishop of Bayeux would not allow this, on account of her youth. At the age of fifteen, on a pilgrimage with her family to Rome, in which they were given an audience with PopeLeo XIII, she asked him to allow her to enter the Carmelite order, but the Pope stood by the decision of the bishop.
When Thérèse turned sixteen, the bishop of Bayeux gave permission, and in April of 1889 she became a Carmelite nun, following her three sisters. In 1889 her father suffered a stroke and was taken to a private sanatorium, where he lingered for three years before dying.
This "Little Way" also appeared in her approach to spirituality: "Sometimes, when I read spiritual treatises, in which perfection is shown with a thousand obstacles in the way and a host of illusions round about it, my poor little mind soon grows weary, I close the learned book, which leaves my head splitting and my heart parched, and I take the Holy Scriptures. Then all seems luminous, a single word opens up infinite horizons to my soul, perfection seems easy; I see that it is enough to realize one's nothingness, and give oneself wholly, like a child, into the arms of the good God. Leaving to great souls, great minds, the fine books I cannot understand, I rejoice to be little because 'only children, and those who are like them, will be admitted to the heavenly banquet'."
It also is evident in her approach to prayer: "With me prayer is a lifting up of the heart, a look towards Heaven, a cry of gratitude and love uttered equally in sorrow and in joy; in a word, something noble, supernatural, which enlarges my soul and unites it to God.... I have not the courage to look through books for beautiful prayers.... I do as a child who has not learned to read, I just tell our Lord all that I want and he understands."
St. Thérèse is known today because of her spiritual autobiography, L'histoire d'une âme ("The Story of a Soul"), which she wrote upon the orders of the prioress of her convent, when the seriousness of her condition became obvious. It was published posthumously, and was heavily edited by her sister, Pauline. It became a devotional best seller on account of its naïve but appealing style, and on account of her trust in God despite her sufferings. More recently, restored versions of her journals and letters have also been published.