July 12th 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.
Louis and Zélie are not saints because they raised a saint but rather 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
On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the wedding of (then) Venerable Servants of God, Louis Martin and Zélie Guerin, Jose Cardinal Saraiva Martins gave a homily on the beauty of Christian married life as lived by the Martins.
Louis and Zélie are a luminous example of conjugal life lived in faithfulness, in the welcoming of life and in the education of children. A Christian marriage lived in absolute confidence in God and which can be proposed to families of today. Their matrimonial life was exemplary, filled with Christian virtues and human wisdom.
Every married couple is called to…
…announce the beauty of Christian marriage with its authentic, believable, and attractive experiences. For this to happen, spouses and parents mature in love are needed. Zélie and Louis embraced the form of conjugal life to follow Christ. Spouses, partners, and parents in Christ, where marriage is welcomed as a call and a mission given by God. With their life they announced to all the good news of love “in Christ”: humble love, love that spares nothing to start over again each morning, love capable of confidence, of sacrifice.
The Martins…aspired to holiness as a couple. They were animated by a reciprocal desire; they both wanted to seek, in the state of life they had embraced, the will of God and obedience to God’s commandment, “Be holy as I am holy.”
Louis and Zélie Martin were real ministers of life and holy parents who bore saints; they educated and guided them to holiness. Like the family of Nazareth, the Martin family was a school, a place of apprenticeship and a place of training in virtue, a family which today will become a point of reference for each Christian family.
To learn more of Saints Louis and Zélie Martin, read our blog post on the occasion of their canonization, October 18, 2015.
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. Our mission is to help couples live Christ-centered, joy-filled marriages by inviting them to a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Pray for us, Saints Louis and Zélie, as we strive to help couples image Christ in their marriages and families.
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.
 Jose Cardinal Saraiva Martins, Homily on the Occasion of the 150th anniversary of the wedding of the Venerable Servants of God, Louis Martin and Zelie Guerin, Lisieux, July 13, 2008; internet: http://www.louisandzeliemartin.org/cardinals-homily-150th-wedding/ (accessed July 11, 2019).