Blessed Zelie and Louis Martin! [updated]

Zelie and Louis Martin became the Church’s newest beati earlier today! 

The parents of one of the most extraordinary saints in the history of the Church, St. Therese of Lisieux, were beatified together today at 10:00 am local time by Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins at the Basilica of St. Therese in Lisieux, France

(Fireworks are scheduled for 8:30 pm!  Party time in Lisieux!) 

The very helpful website, thereseoflisieux.org, offers a boatload of information, including a press kit with a nice list of “talking points” by the director of the site, Maureen O’Riordan.  Ms. O’Riordan’s talking points on the Martins include:

–Fully engaged in business, social, family, and ecclesial life, Louis and Zelie were constantly oriented to eternity.

–Overwhelmed with responsibilities, each was faithful to the contemplative life, the family life of prayer, and the liturgical life of the Church, and they created a family similarly faithful.

–Surrounding their daughters with love, tenderness, and good times, the parents formed each carefully from childhood in the spiritual life.

–Devoted to each other and to their children, Zelie and Louis reached out lovingly to support their extended families at a personal sacrifice.

–Suffering acute grief in many trials, they continued to trust in God’s love for them.

–While supporting a large family, they gave generously of their energy and money to the poor, to the Church, and to causing charity and justice in their society.
–After leading heroic lives, Louis and Zelie surrendered themselves to long and painful illnesses and, in Zelie’s case, to a premature death.

I also like very much a comment that Ms. O’Riordan included in a biographical article about the couple: “Zélie and Louis were not declared “blessed” because of Thérèse. She became a saint because of them. They created an environment that invited her to holiness, and she responded freely to the invitation they offered her.” 

That, I believe, is the key message of the day, especially for parents of children.  And it’s a vitally impotant one.  Fr. Martin is right when he says, in his excellent Wall Street Journal piece yesterday, that the lack of lay and married people honored by the Church as saints is “somewhat embarrassing.”  I think we can say with certainty that being a good parent demands at least as much of all the virtues that are crucial in making the case for anyone’s cause for canonization (prudence, justice, temperance, fortitude, faith, hope, and love) as being a good priest, bishop, or sister.  And when it’s done well, as Blessed Louis and Zelie’s witness shows us, it can yield wonderful fruit. 

Parents of the world, we have some new patrons.

We should note, finally, that the Martins were the second, not the first married couple to be beatified together by the Church.  The honor of being first went to Blessed Luigi and Maria Quattrocci, beatified by Pope John Paul II in October 2001.  Interestingly, the Quattrocci’s lived out their marriage celibately. (With this as an element of their marriage, were they a wise choice as the first married couple to present together as models by beatification?)  The Martins, on the other hand, considered this for their marriage at the beginning, and tried it for a few months.  They soon decided it wasn’t for them.  And thank heavens they did, because their conjugal lives bore wonderful fruit, including of course St. Therese!

There’s not much on the web yet (as of 6:30 this morning, EST, though the Mass in France is over already) about today’s event.  When I find Cardinal Martins’ homily, or anything else especially interesting, I’ll add it to this post.  (Not sure how much time for that there’ll be today, though.  CROP Walk in Syracuse is this afternoon.  Anyone else CROP walking today?)

UPDATE: Aliens in This World was doing some helpful live-blogging during the beatification Mass, which was aired live on EWTN.

UPDATE 2: Comments from Pope Benedict yesterday, who was visiting the Italian Shrine of Our Lady of Pompei:

“These new blesseds accompanied and shared, in their prayer and evangelical witness, the way of their daughter, called by the Lord and consecrated to Him without reserve behind the walls of the Carmelite monastery,” said Pope Benedict XVI following his Mass at a shrine in Pompeii yesterday. “It was there, hidden in the cloister, that St. Thérèse realized her vocation: ‘In the heart of the Church, my Mother, I shall be love.

 “Thinking of the beatification of the Martin couple, I am urged to recall another intention so close to my heart,” the pope said. “The family, the role of which is fundamental in raising up children in a universal spirit of openness and responsibility toward the world and its problems, as also in the formation of vocations to the missionary life.”

UPDATE 3: Here’s the Zenit article on the beatification.  I especially liked this comment from Cardinal Martins:

“I thought of my father and my mother, and in this moment, I would like you to also think in your fathers and mothers, and that together, we give thanks to God for having created us and made us Christians, thanks to the conjugal love of our parents.”

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3 Responses to “Blessed Zelie and Louis Martin! [updated]”

  1. Germaine Says:

    I was thrilled to be present at the mass celebrated by Father Don Brick at the Basilica of Holy Hill, in Hubertus, Wisconsin. Father Don gave an excellent and moving homily about the Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin. They are an inspiration to all of the married couples in the world today. Father Don noted that before they looked into each other’s eyes, they looked into the eyes of Jesus, and treated each other with the same love and respect. How many couples today can say that they do this?

  2. Maureen Says:

    Thank you very much for recommending thereseoflisieux.org and for your comments about Blessed Zelie and Louis Martin. I had the joy of being present at the beatification, which was marvelous. To see film, photos and documents that recreate the experience of beatification Sunday, please see http://thereseoflisieux.org.

    Many thanks.

  3. T. Bailey Says:

    Dear Mr. Michaels.. I’m having a difficult time, finding a holy card depicting Blesseds Zelie and Louis Martin; and I was wondering, if I could get permission to copy the lovely picture of them.. at your site.

    https://barrymichaels.wordpress.com/2008/10/19/blessed-zelie-and-louis-martin/

    I pray for their intercession, because like Blessed Louis.. (toward the end of his life).. my mother also suffers from dementia. I am her sole caregiver. I would like to place their picture among my other holy cards.

    I will wait for a response. Thank you and God bless.

    T. Bailey

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