Thought for the Day – 8 July – The Memorial of Sts Priscilla and Aquila
It is appropriate that today, on the Memorial of Saints Priscilla and Aquila that we remember the parents of “the Little Flower”, the first married couple to be formally canonised together, Louis and Zelie Martin.
Louis and Zélie Martin, parents of St Thérèse of Lisieux (“The Little Flower”), were the first married couple to be canonised together and just three weeks after the annual feast day of Thérèse. Their canonisation coincided with the Ordinary Synod on the Family in Rome.
Though the Martins were known as a typical French family of their time, Louis and Zélie espoused and upheld a rare and unblemished love for God, each other and their children.
Although Louis intended to become a monk, wishing to enter the Augustinian Great St Bernard Monastery, he was rejected because he did not succeed at learning Latin. Later he decided to become a watchmaker and studied his craft in Rennes and in Strasbourg.
Zélie wanted to become a nun but was turned away by the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul due to respiratory difficulties and recurrent headaches. She then prayed for God to give her many children and that they would be consecrated to God. She later decided to become a lacemaker, manufacturing Alençon lace. She fell in love with the watchmaker Louis Martin in 1858 and married him, only three months later, on 12 July 1858, at the Basilica of Notre-Dame in Alençon. Zélie’s business became so successful that, in 1870, Louis sold his watchmaking business to go into partnership with her.
The couple nurtured their marriage and maintained a joyful Catholic home, while balancing the demands of business and day-to-day life with their children. Mr and Mrs Martin exemplified the multi-faceted vocation of being married Catholics and astute parents – putting God first; mentoring, educating and disciplining their children; being honourable business owners and employers; helping local families destitute and in need; and persevering in faith through loss of children, Zélie’s breast cancer and her early death.
As a father, Louis loved nature with a deep sentimental enthusiasm . It was from him that Thérèse inherited her passion for flowers and meadows and for her native landscape, clouds, thunderstorms, the sea and the stars. He made pilgrimages to Chartres and Lourdes, went to Germany and Austria, travelled twice to Rome and even to Constantinople and planned but did not live to carry out, a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Along with this desire for adventure was an impulse towards withdrawal; in Lisieux Louis arranged a little den for himself high up in the attic, a true monastic cell for praying, reading and meditation. Even his daughters were allowed to enter it only if they wished spiritual converse and self-examination. As in a monastery, he divided the day into worship, garden work and relaxation. As a jeweller and watchmaker, Louis loved the precious things with which he dealt. To his daughters he gave touching and naïve pet names: Marie was his “diamond”, Pauline his “noble pearl”, Céline “the bold one” and “the guardian angel”. Thérèse was his “little queen … to whom all treasures belonged”
On 18 October 2015, Louis and Azélie-Marie Martin were canonised as saints by Pope Francis.
“The holy spouses Louis Martin and Marie-Azélie Guérin practised Christian service in the family, creating day by day an environment of faith and love which nurtured the vocations of their daughters, among whom was Saint Therese of the Child Jesus.
The radiant witness of these new saints inspires us to persevere in joyful service to our brothers and sisters, trusting in the help of God and the maternal protection of Mary. From heaven may they now watch over us and sustain us by their powerful intercession.”…Pope Francis
Indeed we cry out to God, “Call down your mercy on marriage!
Sts Priscilla and Aquila, Louis and Zélie, pray for all married couples, pray for the sanctity of marriage and for us all!
Prayer for Marriage and Families
By St Pope John Paul II (1920-2005)
Lord God, from You,
every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.
Father, You are Love and Life.
Through Your Son, Jesus Christ, born of woman
and through the Holy Spirit, fountain of divine charity,
grant that every family on earth may become,
for each successive generation, a true shrine of life and love.
Grant that Your grace may guide the thoughts and actions
of husbands and wives, for the good of their families
and of all the families in the world.
Grant that the young may find in the family,
solid support for their human dignity
and for their growth in truth and love.
Grant that love, strengthened by the grace
of the sacrament of marriage,
may prove mightier than all the weakness
and trials through which our families sometimes pass.
Through the intercession of the Holy Family of Nazareth,
grant that the Church
may fruitfully carry out her worldwide mission
in the family and through the family.
Through Christ our Lord,
who is the Way, the Truth and the Life
forever and ever.