St. Therese of Lisieux
Born at Alençon in 1873, Marie Françoise-Thérèse Martin was the last of the surviving daughters of her mother, Sainte Marie-Azélie (Zélie) Guertin, who died in 1877 when the child was 4. Her father, St. Louis Martin (1823–1894), moved the family to Lisieux in Normandy, to be near his wife's family; her eldest sister, Marie, then 17, and the next Pauline, then 16, took maternal care of her. In 1882, Pauline, who took the name of 'Mother Agnes of Jesus', entered the Carmelite convent in Lisieux, followed by Marie, who became 'Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart', in 1886. Her other sisters, Léonie (1863–1941), 'Sister Françoise-Thérèse', and Céline (1869-1959), 'Sister Geneviève of the Holy Face' also entered convents. In 1886, following nine years of illness and depression, she experienced her "complete conversion" on Christmas Eve, and in 1888 she entered the Lisieux Carmel, aged 15. She ended her novitiate in 1890, entering the convent as Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. Her devotion to the small details of observance and obedience, and to the Gospels, has led to one of her sobriquets being "The Little Flower of Jesus". She suffered greatly from the tuberculosis from which she died in 1897, at the age of only 24. Her simple and sincere faith, and the record of her difficulties, are recorded in her autobiography (L'histoire d'une âme ('The Story of a Soul')), which with her other writings led to her being proclaimed Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II in 1997, she having ben canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1925.