Today is the Feast Day of Saints Louis and Zélie Martin, the parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. In October 2015, they became the first couple to be canonized together as husband and wife.
Blessed Louis and Marie Zélie Guerin Martin were married on July 12, 1858. The couple had nine children, but four of them died in infancy. All five of the surviving children, including St. Thérèse, entered religious life, highlighting the important role parents play in their children’s human and spiritual upbringing. Zélie Martin died of cancer in 1877, at the age of 45; her husband died when he was 70 in 1894.
Zélie and Louis are saints because they lived and imparted the faith to their family in a concerted and committed way. They evangelized their children by their example as a couple, living their faith in works and instruction in the heart of the family. Pope Paul VI’s Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi (Evangelization in the Modern World), stresses that the family is the place where children are evangelized and then the family becomes the evangelizer of other families:
At different moments in the Church’s history and also in the Second Vatican Council, the family has well deserved the beautiful name of “domestic Church.” This means that there should be found in every Christian family the various aspects of the entire Church. Furthermore, the family, like the Church, ought to be a place where the Gospel is transmitted and from which the Gospel radiates.
In a family which is conscious of this mission, all the members evangelize and are evangelized. The parents not only communicate the Gospel to their children, but from their children they can themselves receive the same Gospel as deeply lived by them.
And such a family becomes the evangelizer of many other families, and of the neighborhood of which it forms part. Evangelii Nuntiandi, §71
Prayer to Saints Louis and Zélie Martin
God of eternal love, you give us Saints Louis and Zélie Martin, the parents of St. Thérèse, as an example of holiness in marriage.
They remained faithful to you and your commandments in all the duties and trials of life.
They desired to raise their children to become saints.
May their prayers and example help Christian couples to blossom in their vocation to family life as they carry out their mission to evangelize their children and other families.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
As the exemplars of holy family life, we have designated Louis and Zélie Martin as the patron Saints of the Calling Couples to Christ Apostolate. Pray for us, Louis and Zélie that we may be a channel of encouragement and hope to families as they strive to live their vocation to marriage and family life well.