Louis Martin (lay brother)

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Blessed Louis Martin
Louis Martin 1.jpg
Born (1823-08-22)22 August 1823
Bordeaux, Gironde, France
Died 29 July 1894(1894-07-29) (aged 70)
Arnières-sur-Iton, Eure, France
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Beatified 19 October 2008, Basilique de Sainte-Thérèse by Pope Benedict XVI
Feast 12 July

Blessed Louis Martin (22 August 1823 – 29 July 1894) was a French layman and the father of Saint Thérèse de Lisieux. His wife was Blessed Marie-Azélie Guérin.

He is scheduled to be canonized alongside his wife on October 18, 2015.


Early life[edit]

Louis Joseph Aloys Stanislaus Martin[1] was the third of five children of Pierre-François Martin and Marie-Anne-Fanie Boureau. All his siblings died before reaching age 30.

Although Louis intended to become a monk, wishing to enter the Augustinian Monastery of the Great St Bernard, he was rejected because he did not know Latin. Later he decided to become a watchmaker,[2] and studied his craft in Rennes and in Strasbourg.

Marriage and family[edit]

He later fell in love with Marie-Azélie Guérin,[3] a lacemaker,[4] in 1858 and they married just three months later in the actual Basilica[5] Our Lady of the Assumption in Alençon.[6] Her business was so successful that Louis sold his watchmaking business to go into partnership with her.

"Alongside this strong, tender, but undeniably domineering woman Louis Martin seems to have been made of much softer stuff. He was a dreamer, brooder, and romantic. He loved nature with a deep sentimental enthusiasm. From him Thérèse inherited her passion for flowers and meadows, for her native landscape, for clouds, thunderstorms , the sea and the stars. There was too..wanderlust...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. " [7] Along with this desire for adventure was an impulse towards withdrawal; in Lisieux he 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.

Although the couple lived as brother and sister for ten months after their wedding, they decided to have children. They would later have nine children, though only five daughters would survive infancy:

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

As a jeweller and watchmaker he 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, petite reine, to whom all treasures belonged.[9]

On 28 August 1877, Zélie died from breast cancer in Alençon,[10] Orne. Her funeral was celebrated in the Basilica[11] Our Lady of the Assumption where she had married Louis. Few weeks later, Louis sold her lacemaking business and the saint Blaise's street home[12] and moved to Lisieux, in Normandy, where Zélie's brother Isidore Guérin, a pharmacist, lived with his wife and two daughters.


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

In 1889 Louis suffered two paralyzing strokes followed by cerebral arteriosclerosis, and was hospitalised for three years at the Bon Sauveur asylum in Caen. In 1892 he returned to Lisieux, where his daughters Céline and Léonie looked after him devotedly until his death on 29 July 1894 at the chateau La Musse near Évreux.


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[13] on 19 October 2008; Jose Cardinal Saraiva Martins, the legate of Pope Benedict XVI, presided at the Mass of Beatification in the Basilique de Sainte-Thérèse, Lisieux.[14] The faithful are now invited to pray for a miracle attributed to their joint and sole intercession. After such a miracle is deemed credible by officials at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in the Vatican, they can be counted among the saints of God.

Progress toward canonization[edit]

The cause of Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin has progressed significantly since 2008. On 7 January 2013, Archbishop Carlos Osoro Serra of Valencia, Spain presided at the opening of the canonical process to inquire into the healing in 2008 of a little girl named Carmen who was born in Valencia four days before Louis and Zelie were beatified. Eight doctors testified that there was no scientific explanation for her cure. The diocesan tribunal held its closing session on 21 May 2013, and the file was sent to Rome for review by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, who may recommend to the Pope that Louis and Zélie Martin be canonized.[15] On March 3, 2015 Cardinal Angelo Amato announced informally that Louis and Zellie Martin would be canonized as saints during the Synod of Bishops.[16] The Congregation for the Causes of Saints accepted and promulgated the miracle on March 18, 2015.[17] On June 26, 2015 the film about the canonization miracle which had been produced by the Archdiocese of Valencia was released online in English. [18]On June 27, 2015, at a consistory of cardinals in Rome, Pope Francis approved the decree for the canonization of Louis and Zelie Martin and announced that the ceremony would take place on Mission Sunday, October 18,2015 in Rome.[19]


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 Therese of the Child Jesus, 1863-1885 translated by Ann Connors Hess and edited by Dr. Frances Renda (Staten Island, N.Y.: Alba House). Only 16 letters from Louis survive, but many of Zélie's 216 letters give vivid details about Louis as husband and father.