A Role Model to Inspire

This autumn it will be ten years since some of the remains of St Thérèse of Lisieux came to England. At the time many people, including Catholics, asked what was the point of this. It, indeed, seems a strange thing to do.

It all started when people were healed when they visited Thérèse’s grave after her death in 1897. This included the French singer Edith Piaff, who as a seven year-old, was cured from blindness after a pilgrimage to the grave of Thérèse. And many more were healed when they visited her relics.

So it is not surprising that Thérèse soon became a saint—in fact she is the most popular saint of modern times. The reason is that it is easy to identify with her. She lived a very uneventful life, dying when she was only 24. But she tried very hard to live out God’s command to treat everybody she met with love. That is not easy anywhere, including in a community of nuns where people live together in close proximity. Her life can be described as very ordinary, but her love for others was extraordinary.

One episode illustrates this great love St Thérèse had for all people. One of her fellow nuns did not like her and made no attempt to hide it. But St Thérèse responded with great kindness. This exasperated the other nun so much, that at one point she asked St Thérèse, “Why do you like me”

So we can see why St Thérèse is such a wonderful role model for all of us. No wonder that ten years ago so many people visited her relics as they travelled around England and Wales, to be inspired by this very ordinary and yet very extraordinary saint.

Deacon Klaus Reidel,
St Bede's Catholic Church