I want to give my little daughter the only picture that is dear to me among all others… Aunt at Le Mans gave it to me, and I am attached to it, for it says much to my heart. But all for the little fiancée of Jesus!
Sr. Marie of the Sacred Heart
In our Quote of the Day for 9 January, we shared Sr. Marie’s letter to St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus on the eve of her clothing in the holy habit of Carmel. In the custom of Discalced Carmelite nuns, as a gift to Thérèse for the occasion, she re-gifted something that was of great value to her: a holy card that she had received from their Aunt Élise, St. Zélie Guérin’s sister Marie-Louise-Pétronille, who took the religious name Marie-Dosithée in the Visitation Monastery at Le Mans, France.
Martin Family historian Maureen O’Riordan tells us that on the back of the holy card Marie Martin had written, “Souvenir from Aunt at Le Mans; I shall keep it forever.” We can understand how Marie now says that she is “attached to it” and “it says much to my heart.”
Maureen O’Riordan notes: her generosity in giving it to Thérèse was all the greater because their aunt had died in 1877. The image shows the Child Jesus in a field of lilies, harvesting them. Across the bottom is printed, ‘Blessed is the lily that remains unblemished until the time of harvest; its whiteness will shine eternally in paradise’.
In June 1897, Thérèse will re-gift the holy card once more as a precious farewell souvenir to her three sisters, framing it and embellishing it with thoughts from St. Théophane Vénard and St. John of the Cross, such as this quote from the Spiritual Canticle, Stanza 29: For a little of this pure love is more precious to God and the soul and more beneficial to the Church, even though it seems one is doing nothing, than all these other works put together.
You can read an English translation of St. Thérèse’s inscription here and explore Maureen O’Riordan’s blogs devoted to St. Thérèse here, to St. Louis and Zélie here, and to Léonie Martin here. As always, you can explore the English website of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux here.