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Louis and Zelie_05

July 12 is the feast day of Saints Louis and Zélie Martin, the first married couple to be canonized together. We have written about the holiness of this extraordinary couple here and here. Today, we want to highlight their love for each other.

In The Story of a Family: The Home of the Little Flower, Fr. Stéphane-Joseph Piat says the love Zélie and Louis bore each other:

[K]ept all the fervor of the days of betrothal, all love’s delicacies, the confidences of a supernatural friendship. The wife admired her husband. After four and a half years of married life, she writes of him, “I am always very happy with him. He makes my life very sweet. My husband is a saintly man.”[1]

As examples of their affection for each other, Fr. Piat shares excerpts from letters Zélie and Louis exchanged. In a letter dated, August 31, 1873, Zélie said, “I long to be with you, Louis dear. I love you with all my heart and I feel my affection doubled by being deprived of your company. I could not live apart from you.”[2]

Louis expresses the same tenderness in a letter dated October 8, 1863, “The time passes slowly for I long to be with you…I kiss you all lovingly, whilst awaiting the pleasure of being with you again…Your husband and true friend who loves you forever.”[3]

Fr. Piat says “Such love knew nothing of anxiety and touchiness. It was neither easily offended nor jealous. It was strong, peaceful, compact of confidence and security.” He explains that “As for the children, they felt they were surrounded by a love both tender and strong, accompanied by a genuine respect.”[4]

It is of this love that Thérèse would later sing:

O what tender memories cling
To childhood days, life’s opening Spring,
To guard my innocence ‘neath sheltering wing
My God o’er spread me from above
With love.

Fr. Piat attributes Louis and Zélie’s exceptional love to their understanding of the Sacrament of Matrimony:

Between the married couple was an unbreakable link — Christ…They knew that marriage is a sacrament of the living, of which they are themselves the ministers, a permanent sacrament, the grace of which would vivify their whole existence…Far from withering love, holiness continually recreates it, making of it a masterpiece of mutual understanding, disinterested devotion, complete self-giving and self forgetfulness.[6]

As exemplars of holy family life, Louis and Zélie Martin are the patron Saints of the Calling Couples to Christ Apostolate. Pray for us, Louis and Zélie that we may be an instrument of hope and healing to families as they strive to live out their vocation to marriage and family life well.

[1] Stéphane-Joseph Piat, The Story of a Family: The Home of the Little Flower (Rockford, Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1994), 176

[2] Ibid., 177

[3] Ibid., 177-178

[4] Ibid., 179

[5] Ibid., 181

[6] Ibid., 175