Made for each other, Louis and Zélie Martin love each other deeply, delicate and attentive to each other. Demanding and benevolent in the education of their children, they raise them in the love of God and neighbour. They fully assume their vocations as father and mother, including through the difficulties they encounter.

Story of a couple

The story of the couple of Louis and Zélie is a simple story, but not ordinary.

If Louis was used to traveling, depending on the changes of his military dad, from garrison to garrison, Zélie, although also a soldier's daughter - her dad was a gendarme - hardly traveled, moving only a few tens of kilometers to reach Alençon at the age of 13 years.

Their story is original. Desiring, one like the other, to become religious, each rejected for their part in their approach, returned to their loneliness of life in this calm and peaceful town of Alençon, they meet on the bridge which spans the Sarthe. married a few months later.

Man and woman of faith, workers, good educators of their children (they will have nine), engaged in social works, anxious to bear witness to their faith, tested by Zelie's disease, they leave no one indifferent.

Nineteen years of real happiness lived as husband and family, then seventeen years in which the Martin family, transplanted to Lisieux, will live in the memory of their late wife and mother.

Today, the Church offers them to us as models on the path to Holiness because they knew in the ordeal that was theirs, “to live on Love”, to use the title of a poem by their own. girl Saint Therese.

Louis Zelie Martin

Love for each other, love of parents for their children, love spread in acts of charity beyond the family circle.

Louis martin

In search of an ideal

Louis Martin was born in Bordeaux in 1823. Son of a soldier, his early years were marked by mobility. Then the family moved to Alençon where Louis lived his schooling.

He learned watchmaking in Rennes, Strasbourg and Paris. Decisive years during which the desire to consecrate oneself to God was born at the monastery of the Great Saint Bernard. His difficulty in mastering Latin forced him to give up this project. He then opens a watchmaking-jewelry in 1850 rue du Pont Neuf in Alençon.

Until his marriage in 1858, he divided his time between his work, leisure activities (fishing in particular), meditation and meeting others. He participated in the Vital Romet circle which brought together a dozen young Christian adults around Father Hurel and discovered a form of social commitment within the framework of the conference of Saint-Vincent de Paul.

The time of marriage

His mother, who could not make up her mind to see him single, told him about Zélie Guérin, with whom she was learning the art of lace. Their first meeting on the Saint-Léonard Bridge will be decisive.

They married a few months later on July 12, 1853 at 22 p.m. at the town hall of Alençon and on July 13 at midnight at Notre-Dame church.

Their married life will last 19 years. It will be marked by a project to live continence in marriage and then by the reception of nine children, five of whom will survive. Madame Martin's correspondence reveals the deep affection that unites this couple.

saints Louis Zelie Martin

Their married life also allows us to understand their daily life:

  • Louis's participation in children's education ...
  • his professional choice to give up her activity to assist his wife in the management of the lace factory that she founded
  • the deep faith that animates this family and makes it attentive to those around them
  • the repercussions of the social and religious life of the time (it is the end of the Second Empire and the birth of the Third Republic ...)
  • and finally the long ordeal of cancer which carried away Madame Martin at the age of 46, on August 28, 1877.
An attentive father

Then opens for Louis the time of widowhood that he decides - on the instructions of Zélie - to live in Lisieux with the Guérins, his in-laws. A few letters from this period reveal that he was an attentive father to each of his daughters and ready to consent to their project of religious life.

Louis Zelie Thérese Celine Marie Leonie Pauline Martin

After Thérèse entered Carmel, in 1888 he began to experience illness which led him to the Bon Sauveur in Caen. Paralyzed, he returned to his family where he died on July 29, 1894, at the age of 71.

Louis Martin's disease

The illness and death of Louis Martin are the subject of a 73-page study in volume 2 produced by the Historical Office of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints. There are testimonies from psychiatrists, a general practitioner, two doctors from the Bon Sauveur psychiatric hospitals in Caen and finally a neuropsychiatrist. Mr. Martin's terminal illness was progressive vascular encephalopathy caused by diffuse cerebral arteriosclerosis, which had progressed over a decade.

Thérèse will not speak of her father's illness, but of “her passion” (Ms A, 73 r °). She knew that her “Darling King” had not only given all his daughters to God but had offered himself on this altar which he had given to the cathedral church of Saint-Pierre in Lisieux, the parish frequented by the family. Martin.

Zelie Martin

Zélie, girl of the XNUMXth century, heiress of her time

Second child of Isidore Guérin and Louise-Jeanne Macé, Azélie-Marie Guérin (she was never named as Zélie) was born on December 23, 1831 in Gandelain, commune of Saint-Denis sur Sarthon in Orne where her father, former soldier of the empire, was enlisted in the gendarmerie.

She was baptized the day after her birth in the church of Saint-Denis sur Sarthon. A sister, Marie-Louise, preceded her by two years; she will become Sister Marie-Dosithée at the Visitation of Le Mans. A brother, Isidore, will be born nearly ten years later and will be the spoiled child of the family.

She defines herself in a letter to her brother, her childhood, her youth as “sad as a shroud, because if my mother spoiled you, for me, you know, she was too severe; she, however good, did not know how to take me so I suffered a lot from the heart ”.

Zélie, active woman, entrepreneur, committed to justice ...

After studying at the Convent of Perpetual Adoration, rue de Lancrel in Alençon, she felt called to religious life but faced with the refusal of the superior, she turned to vocational training and successfully initiated herself in manufacturing. from the famous point d'Alençon. Towards the end of 1853, she therefore established herself as a “maker of Point d'Alençon” at 36 rue Saint-Blaise and provided work for home workers. The quality of his work has made his workshop famous. The relationships she has with her staff, whom she says should be loved like members of her own family, always shows us as a priest to support those in need. The Gospel leads all of its acts.

Zélie, loving wife

In April 1858, Zélie Guérin crosses paths with a young man on the Saint-Léonard bridge whose appearance impresses him… It is Louis Martin, watchmaker. The love she has for her husband is expressed in her letters ...

Your wife who loves you more than her life, I kiss you like I love you

Excerpts from Zelie's letter to Louis
Zélie, a fulfilled and tried mother
Zélie Martin sainte Thérèse

From 1860 to 1873, nine children were born in the Martin home, four of whom died in infancy.

Zélie will experience joys and sufferings at the rate of these births and deaths; so we can read in his correspondence: "I love children madly, I was born to have them ...". Then, after the birth of Thérèse, her last daughter; “I have already suffered a lot in my life”. The education of her daughters mobilizes all the energy of her heart. Confidence was the soul of this education. For her children, she wishes the best… to become saints!

Zelie, sick and still confident

From 1865, a gland in the right breast which degenerated into cancer caused great suffering to Zélie.

“If the Good Lord wants to heal me, I will be very happy, because deep down, I want to live; it costs me to leave my husband and my children. But on the other hand, I say to myself: if I do not get well, it is because it will perhaps be more useful for them to go away ”.

Zelie Martin

On August 28, 1877 at half past midnight, Zélie died, surrounded by her husband and her brother.

Let us leave the last words to Thérèse: "From Mum, I loved the smile, her deep gaze seemed to say: Eternity delights me and attracts me, I am going to go to the blue sky to see God!" "

Beatification and Canonization

On March 26, 1994, John Paul II proclaimed the heroic virtues of Louis Martin and Zélie Guérin and declared them Venerable.
This finalized the first stage of their process with a view to their canonization. By this declaration, the late Louis Martin and Zélie Guérin were recognized worthy of receiving local veneration.

On June 27, 2015, during the public Consistory, Pope Francis announced the date of the canonization of Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin. The canonization of the Martin couple takes place on Sunday October 18, 2015 in Rome.

From the beatification to the canonization of Louis and Zélie Martin ...
  • 1946 - The bishop of Lisieux expresses his wish to see the cause of the parents of Saint Thérèse, Louis and Zélie MARTIN, examined.

On March 22, 1957, the trial concerning Louis Martin opened in Bayeux. It will last 12 years since it was closed on February 12, 1969. At the same time, in the diocese of Séez, the trial for Zélie Martin was investigated, from October 10, 1957 to January 21, 1959. For the first time in the history of the Church, Pope Paul VI wanted the two causes to be united in one and entrusted in 1971 to the Historical Office of the Congregation.

  • 1994 - March 26, decree of “heroic” virtues of Louis and Zélie MARTIN signed by Pope John Paul II in Rome, in the year of the Family
  • 2008 - July 3, recognition by Pope Benedict XVI, of the miraculous healing of little Pietro Schilirò, born in MILAN in 2002.
  • 2008 - On October 19, the MARTIN parents are proclaimed Blessed in Lisieux.
  • 2013 - January 7, opening of an investigation into the miraculous healing in Valencia (Spain) of little Carmen by the Archbishop of Valencia, Mgr Carlos Osoro. Closure of the diocesan phase of the canonical process on the miracle on May 21 by the archbishop in the presence of Mgr Boulanger, bishop of Bayeux - Lisieux and Mgr Habert, bishop of Séez.
  • 2013 - Rome, the file of the canonization of the MARTIN couple is under investigation: Father Antonio Sangalli, OCD, vice-postulator of the Cause, transmits the acts of the Cause to the Congregation for the Cause of Saints where investigations are continuing .
  • 2015 - On March 18, Pope Francis orders the promulgation of the decree recognizing the miracle of the healing of little Carmen.
  • 2015 - On June 27, during the public Consistory, announcement by Pope Francis of the date of the canonization of Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin. The canonization of the Martin couple will take place on Sunday October 18, 2015 in Rome.
Mass and canonization of Louis and Zélie Martin

On June 10, 2003, Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, Archbishop of Milan, recognized a miracle attributed to Louis and Zélie Martin. This allows them to be proclaimed Blessed together. This is the second time in the history of the Church that a couple has been beatified together, after husbands Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi (Italians) beatified on October 21, 2001.

The miracle was obtained in favor of a newborn baby, Pietro Schilirò. The child is now 13 years old. He was born with serious respiratory problems on May 25, 2002, and remained between life and death for 40 days at Saint Gérard de Monza hospital. From the start, his situation seemed very compromised. On June 3, his parents decided to have the child baptized, in imminent danger of death. Father Antonio Sangalli, religious of the Order of Carmel, friend and spiritual father of the couple, had come to the hospital with an image of the parents of Saint Teresa. “We knew Saint Thérèse, we had read her writings, but we knew little about her parents,” says Adele, Pietro's mother. “Padre Antonio explained to us that Thérèse's parents had lost four young children: praying to them would have helped us to understand the meaning of what was happening to us with our little Pietro. We welcomed this invitation with confidence: deep down, knowing their daughter Thérèse, asking the parents for intercession seemed natural to us ”.

The Schiliròs then began to make a novena to Martin parents and to have their friends, their acquaintances, the families they met at the end of the children's school, the people of the parish, the people who belong to ecclesial movements, to pray. giving them the image of the novena of Louis and Zélie Martin… and it went to Cambodia where there was a missionary friend of the family. However, the June 5 biopsy confirmed a dire prognosis for Pietro, reducing hopes of survival, even with respiratory assistance.

“So many people prayed with us and for us,” says Pietro's mother; "But at the beginning, I was resigned, I was already thinking about the funeral, and all that would follow." However, friends encourage them to ask for Pietro's healing. Thus, on June 13, in the presence of many friends, after having recited the rosary, the Schilirò began a second novena, confident in the intercession of the Martin parents. Doctors and nurses also participated in this prayer. And it is precisely a nurse, who, on June 29, announced the unexpected improvement of the newborn. Pietro no longer needed 100% oxygen. Within days he was able to breathe on his own, and by July 27 he was returned to his parents in perfect health. "Considering the complexity of the case and the clinical course", one reads at the end of a medical report, "we retain the cure as a surprising fact".

This unexplained healing was recognized as a miracle in Rome on July 3, 2008 by Benedict XVI

Following this recognition, here is the testimony of Adele and Valter, parents of Pietro:

“We constantly thank the Lord for his Mercy towards us. He welcomed the intercession of Louis and Zélie and healed our little Pietro. He manifested his love by an extraordinary fact in order to help us recognize his all loving Presence in the ordinary of our lives. Louis and Zélie lived the circumstances of their life with confidence in the Goodness of the Father and that helps and supports us in our daily life. ”

Louis and Zélie Martin were beatified in Lisieux on October 19, 2008. In order for them to be canonized, it was necessary for the Church to recognize a miracle that occurred through their intercession. It was obtained in favor of a premature child from Valencia, Spain.

Carmen was born on October 15, 2008, after 28 weeks of a very difficult pregnancy. “Prepare for the worst” announces the midwife. Complications, frequent in very premature babies, multiply: respiratory and cardiac distress, double sepsis, cerebral hemorrhage at the most advanced stage, etc. The child having been born for the Feast of Saint Teresa of Avila, the Father goes to a Carmel outside the city. The sisters take this intention to heart. Parents come to Mass every Sunday and quickly leave for the hospital. At the end of November, the case seems hopeless. For the first time the mother has the right to touch her baby, the incubator remains open. The family begins to talk about the burial.

On November 23, the Prioress of Carmel gives the parents the prayer to Louis and Zélie in Spanish. They did not know them at all, nor their famous daughter Thérèse of the Child Jesus of the Holy Face. The next day a change of Providential Hospital took place. Contrary to all expectations, Carmen endures it, the infection is contained. She begins to recover, to the point of being released on January 2, 2009.

One point remains very worrying: the cerebral hemorrhage dilates her skull and makes her suffer. A review is scheduled for February 19. It will probably be necessary to operate. New prayer “offensive” to Parents Martin whose Reliquary is providentially going to the Sanctuary of Llerida just before. Carmen's father, big brother Ismaël (born in 2004), and the grandfathers go there to thank and intercede. From their monastery, the Carmelites join in their prayer. A few days later, the ultrasound reveals that the cerebral hemorrhage has disappeared, we only see the scars and, what is most surprising (to this day the doctors cannot explain it), the total absence of sequelae neurological or motor.

This unexplained healing was recognized as a miracle in Rome on March 18, 2015 by Pope Francis.

Testimony of Carmen's parents following this announcement:

“The news for the canonization of Blessed Louis Martin and Zélie Guérin fills us with emotion, joy and gratitude. It is because for us, they have been part of our family since we prayed to them and they interceded before the Lord to grant us the healing of our daughter. The Martin couple is an example of family union whose foundation is love and respect for children. And we, thanks to them, can demonstrate these values ​​to our two children. "