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Learning from the Saints: Louis and Zélie Martin

Last week I wrote about parents being models of holiness for their children. We looked at a few saints and how their parent’s example had impacted them. This week I want to reflect on one particular family: The Martin family.

St. Therese is a Doctor of the Church, a modern saint whose “Little Way” has had an incredible impact in the 21st century. Now, as of last fall, St. Therese’s parents Louis and Zélie have joined the ranks of canonized saints as the first married couple to be declared saints together. They even share a feast day: their wedding anniversary, July 12th.

Together Louis and Zélie had no theology degrees or brilliant theological treatises, but were able to transform their ordinary lives into something extraordinary through their love for God. Celine, their daughter, said they were “different temperaments, but perfectly well-matched, each one completing, in perfect harmony, the deficiencies of the other, always corrected by virtue.” There was a communion of love in their family because the couple loved each other deeply, fueled by their love of God.

Both came from strict military families, with Zélie telling of a “dismal” childhood and she never got along with her mother. They were no strangers to suffering. After both being rejected from religious orders, they passed each other on a bridge where Zélie heard a voice say, “This is he whom I have prepared for you.” During their 18 years of marriage, they gave birth to 9 children and buried 4 of them. Zélie was also sick with breast cancer, and died when St. Therese was only 4. They had to balance running their own businesses, being attentive their family, and caring for others in their community. They struggled to raise children of different strong-willed temperaments and suffered the guilt of knowing that their maid had abused one of their children.

All of this is very relatable to today’s families.

Read more at Catholic Marriage Prep. 

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