St. Zelie and Louis Martin-
For years after receiving Holy Communion at our previous parish, I would walk to the back of our Church, St. Patrick, with my arms aching from holding one of my children, I couldn’t help but notice this relic of St. Louis and Zelie Martin tucked away together in a beautiful reliquary on display. In a wood reliquary full of some of my favorite saints repose this relic which delicately rests together; these small and delicate chips of bone smaller than a piece of rice and yet, together, serves as a gift for all Catholic couples to learn and seek inspiration. Occasionally, I would gently reach up and place my hand on the glass outer case, say a little prayer, and attempt to connect with these amazing saints, seeking their help and guidance in my vocation as a wife and mother. This beautiful married couple marked a first in the light of the Catholic church, they are the first couple with children to be canonized saints, together.
St. Louis and Zelie Guerin Martin are the parents of the Great Doctor of the Church, St. Therese, The Little Flower. Zelie and her husband, Louis, were not canonized Saints because their daughter was a saint and even elevated to a doctor of the Catholic Church, they were held to this amazing recognizing thanks to the authentic Catholic Christian life they lived. “Louis and Zélie Martin are sublime examples of conjugal love, of an industrious Christian family concerned for others, generous to the poor and inspired by an exemplary missionary spirit, ever ready to help with parish activities.” This married couple lived through difficult trials and pain and yet, they always had faith and courage to seek Christ.
Through St. Zelie’s 218 letters and St. Louis’s 16 letters, we learned vast insights not only about the spiritual life but also a glimpse into the personal life of her daily joys, sorrows, and trials. Their words of courage and faith shout out hope to us who oftentimes endure long days at work, parenting, and the constant balance of choosing how to engage in the culture. St. Zelie gives us a personal perspective on the power of prayer, service, and mostly how to love even when it is difficult.
With the help of Christ, Zelie embraced the joys and sorrow of her vocation as wife and mother and serves as a holy example to all!
Their feast day is July 12, because it is the day on which they were civilly married, with a religious ceremony taking place at midnight on July 13, 1858. They were beatified on October 19, 2008, at the Basilica of St. Therese in Lisieux, France.
5 Lessons Learned from St. Zelie and Louis Martin
1.Prayer is Essential
At the birth of each of her children, she would pray this prayer. Sadly out of her nine children only five lived a long life.
Lord, grant me the grace that his child may be consecrated to You, and that nothing may tarnish the purity of its soul. If ever it would be lost, I prefer that You should take it without delay. Amen
2. True Happiness can only be discovered in the next life.
“True happiness is not to be found in this world, it is a complete loss of time to try to find it here. (Letter to her sister in law, Feb. 2, 1870)
3. Saint Zelie Desired to Be A Saint! She made it her goal!
“I want to become a saint; it will not be easy at all. I have a lot of wood to chop and it is as hard as stone. I should have started sooner, while it was not so difficult; but in any case, “better late than never.” (To Marie and Pauline, November 1, 1873
4. The difficulty of living in the world but not of it…
I often think…
I often think of my saintly sister and of her quiet, peaceful life (in the convent). She works, but not to gain perishable riches; she is active only for Heaven, which she is ever looking forward to and longing for. As for me, I see myself bent towards the earth, toiling with all my strength to amass gold which I cannot take with me, and which I have no desire to take… Sometimes I regret that I did not become a nun like her, but immediately I say to myself, “But I would not have my four little girls and my darling Joseph! No! It is better for me to toil on, as I am, and to have them with me.”
-St. Zelie Martin
5. Pray for the Courage to accept the will of God!
“We have to carry our crosses one way or another. We say to God, “I don’t want this one.” Often our prayer is heard, but often, also to our misfortune. It is better to patiently accept what happens to us. There is joy alongside the pain.” – Oct. 1, 1871
*To learn more about the importance of prayer and St. Zelie Martin check out my book, Pray Fully, Simple Steps for Becoming a Woman of Prayer– published by Ave Maria Press.