Saint Therese of Lisieux
"What a joy to remember that she [Mary] is our Mother! Since she loves us and knows our weakness, what have we to fear?."
Saint Therese of the Child Jesus was born in Alençon, France on January 2, 1873. Therese, the youngest of five children, lost her mother at the age of five. She was educated by her sisters and her father, who taught her to love the poor and to pray. Her sister, who was like a mother to her, entered the Carmelite Order. This new cause of suffering for Therese brought with it the certainty of her own call to Carmel, and she desired to enter the monastery as well. Due to the fact that she was only 15 years old, she decided to ask for the Pope's permission while on a pilgrimage to Rome. She pleaded before the Pope and he answered, "You will enter if God wills it." She was finally able to enter the Carmelite monastery, where she lived her spiritual childhood very intensely. She knew how to offer up the seemingly little everyday things to the Lord. She lived in self-denial and offered herself as instrument in God's hands. She contracted tuberculosis when she was 23 years old, and died a year later on September 30, 1897. She was beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1922 and canonized two years later. Her feast day is October 1st.
Our Lady of Lourdes to St. Bernadette Soubirous
"I do not promise you happiness in this life, but in the next."
Bernadette was born in Lourdes (France) in 1844. Her baptismal name, which later became her religious name, was Maria Bernarda, but everyone called her Bernadette. Although she still had not learned to read or write at the age of 14, nor was she able to learn her catechism lessons, she had many other qualities, like her honesty and devotion to Our Lady. She was graced with apparitions by Our Lady from February 11 to July 16, 1858, in which Our Blessed Mother confided to Bernadette her desire of having a chapel built in the place of the apparitions and that the people may go there in procession. She also spoke to her about the need to do penance. A fountain sprang up in the place of the apparitions, whose water became a fount of graces and of physical and spiritual miracles until today. One day, the Blessed Virgin said to her, “I do not promise you happiness in this life, but in the next,” and so it was. The life of St. Bernadette was a life of sickness, hardship and humiliations, but all these things helped her grow in holiness. Many people offered her money and other items, but she never accepted. Later on in her life, after the apparitions, Bernadette requested the entrance into the religious community of the Daughters of Charity in Nevers, France, where she would fulfill the duties of nurse and sacristan. She had much to suffer because of her poor health, and said “What I ask of Our Lord is not that he may grant me health, but that he may give me courage and strength to live my sickness with patience. To fulfill what the Blessed Virgin said, I offer my sufferings as penance for the conversion of sinners.” She only lived 15 years as a religious before dying, and nine of these years she spent suffering day and night from asthma and tuberculosis. She said in one occasion, “If someone has seen the Blessed Virgin just one time, he would be willing to do any sacrifice just to be able to see her again. She is so beautiful.” During her time as a religious, she was not allowed to speak about the apparitions but on April 16, 1879, the day in which she died, she exclaimed, “I saw Our Lady. Yes, I saw her, and how beautiful she was!” She was canonized by Pope Pio XI on December 8, 1933.