Fr. John Fain is getting the 19th-century family of St. Therese back together.
Well, sort of.
First-class relics of Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin, the recently canonized parents of St. Therese, have found a new home in a parish named for their daughter in Lansing, Michigan.
Fr. John Fain of St. Therese parish told CNA that the relics will be encased in a display case along with a relic of St. Therese, and a print of the whole family. All five of the children who survived childhood became religious sisters.
Fain said he hopes the relics inspire greater devotion to St. Therese herself, along with devotion to her family.
“What St. Therese is known for is The Little Way, and it’s doing small things with great love,” Fain said. “Her parents, I think, taught her that.”
“They were people who went to daily Mass, they practiced fasting, they regularly checked out for the neighbors, people in the neighborhood that were struggling. They would take them food and other things. They comforted the sick of their neighborhood and just lived a very joyful family life,” he added.
Fain said he was inspired to ask for relics of Louis and Zelie after ordering a print of an icon of the Martin family.
“I happened to buy a picture of the family of St. Therese of Lisieux and her parents and the entire family, including the children who had died. It just sort of occurred to me, ‘Wow, this would be really neat to have the relics here too.’”
But obtaining relics is no easy process. Fain petitioned Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing to see if he could get relics of Louis and Zelie for the parish, thinking it would take several years.
Boyea put the chancellor of the diocese, Michael Andrews, on the task of obtaining the relics, Fain said. Andrews, who speaks several languages, contacted the head of Carmelite order in Rome to ask about obtaining relics of Louis and Zelie.
“That’s the only place you could get the relics from. It’s actually very hard to get relics anymore. It used to be somewhat easy, but there’s been so many abuses and trafficking in relics that basically you can only get one,” Fain said.
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