Relics of Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin visit the Vatican

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI did not preside over the October beatification of the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux, but he will receive some of their relics on Wednesday during his weekly general audience.

In the meantime, a separate bronze reliquary — an urn containing arm bones from the bodies of Louis and Marie Zelie Guerin Martin — has been set to the right of the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica for the general public’s prayer and veneration.

The Martins' reliquary in St. Peter's Basilica

The bronze urn containing the relics of Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin, the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux, on display in St. Peter's Basilica. (CNS photo by Cindy Wooden)

Italian dioceses have been taking turns hosting the relics since Dec. 5.

Very few people were in St. Peter’s Basilica this morning — a gray Monday in January. Even fewer knew what was in the urn with a simple flower arrangement in front of it.

Alongside the urn stands an icon showing Louis and Zelie with halos, surrounded by their four daughters who became Carmelite nuns (including St. Therese) and the one daughter who became a Visitation nun. Four smaller figures represent the four Martin youngsters who died in childhood.

At first glance, it appears that access to the area in front of the Altar of the Chair is blocked off. But it is simply reserved for prayer. A visitor who tells the usher he or she wants to pray is welcome to enter and even to go up to the altar rail to take photos of the reliquary or get a copy of the Martins’ prayer card.

The prayer cards offer thanks for the Martins’ example of “unity and fidelity in marriage” and their witness of faith in God despite trials and suffering.

The cards also encourage people to pray that the Martins will soon be declared saints.

7 Responses

  1. Thank you very much for this story.

    You may be interested to know that the one Martin daughter who did not become a Carmelite, Leonie, did enter the Poor Clares for a few months, but she spent most of her life as a nun of the Convent of the Visitation at Caen.

  2. I am a devotee of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. During our month-long trip to Europe in 1996, my wife and I paid a visit to the home of her birth and Notre Dame of her baptism in Alençon, and then to her second home and her basilica in Lisieux. At the basilica, we saw the pictures of her parents prominently placed for beatification petition. My diary shows I left the following words (in French) there:

    “St. Thérèse, our beloved Saint, How happy to make this pilgrimage! Pray for us and our loved ones, our native country China and our adopted land America. Help us love the Good Lord as you do.” Joseph & Mary Hsu, Montgomery, Alabama, USA. 11/09/96.”

  3. I am a devotee of St.Therese.I named my second child in honor of Blessed Virgen Mary and St.Therese,her name is Madonna Theresa.The Virgen Mary and St.Therese had always helped my daughter even when she was a very ill child with asthma.Through my prayers,she had overcomed her asthma and even able to go through the rigid training of medical school.During her years as student of medicine,now a medical doctor,I always asked for St.Therese intercession to our Lord Jesus Christ.And my prayers are always answered.Nothing was impossible if you ask the prayers from St.Therese.Last month was again very trying month for me.They found a mass on my right breast.Both my paternal and maternal side of my family had breast.cancer.So having a mass,is something very alarming.Again,I turned to St.Therese,but my daily novena where asking her parents to pray for me.Yesterday,I finally got a call from my doctor and my mass is benign after gone through a ultrasound guided needle biopsy.My family is delighted upon hearing the good news and our gratitude first to Lord Jesus Christ,then to Blessed Louis /Blessed Zelie Martin and all the saints that interceded for my negative,non cancerious biopsy.

  4. dear friend in jesus and mary i have just read your letter in testomy to st therese and her parents louis and zelie martin recently i received a pamplet with prayers for the canonisation of blessed louis and zelie i have great beleive in their intercession .at present i am praying for a very urgent favour to be heard i would be most greatfull if you could add a.prayer for me when next you prey to them i was so pleased to hear your cancer results were negitive and your daughter madonna therese is doing so well if you had any futher information concerning blessed louis and zelie i would love to hear from you i will remember you in my prayers god bless you and your family patricia

  5. i would to have any updates or information concerning blessed louis and zelie martin thanking you patricia brady dublin ireland

  6. Dear Ms. Brady,

    You asked for information about Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin. For articles, photos, and photo shows about their lives, their beatification, and their significance today, please see http://thereseoflisieux.org

    Thank you.

  7. Dear Ms. Brady,

    Exciting news about Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin: the definitive French edition of their letters has just been published in English! For details and to order, please see http://www.thereseoflisieux.org. Thank you.

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