Marie-Azélie Guérin Martin

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Blessed Azélie-Marie Guérin Martin
Zélie Martin 1.jpg
Born 23 December 1831
Saint-Denis-sur-Sarthon, Orne, France
Died 28 August 1877 (aged 45)
Alençon, Orne, France
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Beatified 19 October 2008, Basilique de Sainte-Thérèse by Pope Benedict XVI
Feast 12 July

Blessed Azélie-Marie "Zélie" Martin née Guérin (23 December 1831 - 28 August 1877) was a French laywoman and the mother of Saint Thérèse de Lisieux. Her husband was Blessed Louis Martin.

She is expected to be canonized in October 2015 together with her husband. They will be the first spouses in the history of the Church to be canonized as a couple.


Early life[edit]

Azélie-Marie Guérin was born in Saint-Denis-sur-Sarthon,[1] Orne, France and was the second daughter of Isidore Guérin and Louise-Jeanne Macé. She had an older sister, Marie-Louise, who became a Visitandine nun, and a younger brother, Isidore, who was a pharmacist. Her maternal family were from the Madré, in the neighbouring department of Mayenne, where her grandfather Louis Macé was baptised on the 16th March 1778.

Zélie wanted to become a nun, but was turned away by the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul due to respiratory difficulties and recurrent headaches. Zélie then prayed for God to give her children and that they would be consecrated to God.

Later, she decided to become a lacemaker,[2] making Point d'Alençon lace. She later fell in love with a watchmaker,[3] Louis Martin,[4] in 1858 and married only three months later[5] in the Basilica[6] Our Lady of the Assumption in Alençon.[7]

Marriage and family[edit]

Although Zélie and Louis had led a continent marriage for almost a year, they had decided to have children. They would have nine children, though only five daughters would survive childhood; all became nuns:

  • Marie Louise (22 February 1860 – 19 January 1940), as a nun, Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart, Carmelite at Lisieux.
  • Marie Pauline (September 7, 1861 – July 28, 1951), as a nun, Mother Agnès of Jesus, Carmelite at Lisieux.
  • Marie Léonie (June 3, 1863 – June 16, 1941), as a nun, Sister Françoise-Thérèse, Visitandine at Caen.
  • Marie Hélène (October 3, 1864 – February 22, 1870)
  • Marie Joseph-Louis (September 20, 1866 – February 14, 1867)
  • Marie Joseph-Jean-Baptiste (December 19, 1867 – August 24, 1868)
  • Marie Céline (April 28, 1869 – 25 February 1959), as a nun, Sister Geneviève of the Holy Face, Carmelite at Lisieux.
  • Marie Mélanie-Thérèse (August 16, 1870 – October 8, 1870)
  • Marie Françoise Thérèse (January 2, 1873 – September 30, 1897), as a nun, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, Carmelite at Lisieux, canonised in 1925.[8]

After Zélie's death, Pauline, Marie, Thérèse and Céline all became Carmelite nuns one after another along with a cousin, Marie Guérin. Léonie became a Visitandine nun at Caen[9]after leaving the Poor Clares.[10]


Portrait of Thérèse's mother at the Basilica of St. Thérèse (Lisieux).

Marie-Azélie died of breast cancer on 28 August 1877 in Alençon,[11] Orne, aged 45. Her funeral was celebrated in the Basilica[12] Our Lady of the Assumption where she had married Louis Martin. She was survived by her husband and daughters.[13]


Relics of Louis and Marie-Azélie Guérin Martin at Saint Patrick Church in Columbus, Ohio

Louis and Marie-Azélie Martin were declared "venerable" on 26 March 1994 by Pope John Paul II. They were beatified[14] on 19 October 2008 by Jose Cardinal Saraiva Martins, the legate of Pope Benedict XVI in the Basilica of Saint Thérèse, Lisieux, France.[15] A few months earlier, the church had recognized the miracle[16] of Pietro Schiliro, an Italian child cured of lung trouble at their intercession. For Louis and Zélie to be canonized,[17] the Church must find that God worked a second miracle at their intercession.


On January 7, 2013 Archbishop Carlos Osoro Serra of Valencia, Spain presided at the opening of the diocesan phase of the canonical process to inquire into the healing of a little girl named Carmen who was born in Valencia only four days before Louis and Zelie were beatified. The diocesan process closed on May 21, 2013,[18] and the file was brought to Rome to be examined by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. If they recommend the cure of Carmen to Pope Francis as a miracle, the way will be open for Louis and Zelie Martin to be canonized.[19]

On February 27, 2015 Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, announced informally that Zelie and Louis would be canonized in October 2015 during the Synod of Bishops.[20] On March 18, 2015 Pope Francis received Cardinal Amato in a private audience and authorized him to promulgate the decree recognizing the healing of little Carmen as the miracle for the canonization of Louis and Zelie Martin.[21]


In 2011 the letters of Blessed Zélie and Louis Martin were published in English as A Call to a Deeper Love: The Family Correspondence of the Parents of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, 1863-1885," translated by Ann Connors Hess and edited by Dr. Frances Renda (Staten Island, N.Y.: Alba House.[22]


Shrine Louis and Zelie Martin (Alençon-France)

Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin, The Parents of St. Therese of Lisieux