St. Thérèse’s Parents to Be Saints in First Joint Canonization of a Married Couple

Blesseds Louis and Zelie Martin will be elevated to sainthood in October, in conjunction with the Ordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family.

 Louis and Zelie Martin
Louis and Zelie Martin (photo: Public domain image via CNA)

 ROME — It has been informally announced that the parents of St. Thérèse, Blesseds Louis and Zelie Martin, will be canonized this fall.

“Thanks to God, in October, two spouses will be canonized: the parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux,” Cardinal Angelo Amato said during a Feb. 27 event organized by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

Entitled “What Purpose Do the Saints Serve?” the event highlighted the importance of holiness within the family.

Cardinal Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, announced that Mr. and Mrs. Martin will be canonized in October of this year, in conjunction with the Ordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family at the Vatican. “The saints are not only priests and religious, but also laypersons,” the cardinal said, referring to the French spouses.

The cardinal’s announcement came a short time after Bishop Jean-Claude Boulanger, who oversees the French Diocese of Bayeuz-Lisieux, revealed his intention to open the cause of beatification for St. Thérèse’s older sister, Leonie Martin.

Referred to by Bishop Boulanger as Thérèse’s “difficult” sister, Leonie was the third of Louis and Zelie’s nine children and a member of the Order of the Visitation.

Louis and Zelie were beatified on Oct. 19, 2008, by Pope Benedict XVI, and their canonization will be the first joint canonization of a married couple.

Their path to sainthood has surpassed that of another married couple, Blesseds Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi, who were beatified together in October 2001.

Married in 1858, just three months after meeting each other, Louis and Zelie lived in celibacy for nearly a year, but eventually went on to have nine children. Four died in infancy, while the remaining five daughters entered religious life. Both had previously attempted to enter the religious life themselves, Louis as a monk and Zelie as a nun with the Order of the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul.

Zelie was turned away due to respiratory problems and frequent headaches, while Louis was denied entry because he couldn’t speak Latin, which at that time was a requirement for entering the seminary. Louis then became a watchmaker, and Zelie was a lace maker.

Known for living exemplary holiness, the couple’s daily practices included Mass at 5:30am, praying the Angelus and vespers, resting on Sundays and fasting during Lent and Advent.

The couple would also invite poor people to dine with them in their home, and they frequently visited the elderly, thus teaching their children to treat the disadvantaged as equals.

Zelie died from cancer at the age of 46, leaving Louis to care for their five young daughters: Marie, Pauline, Leonie, Celine and Thérèse, who was only 4 at the time. Louis died in 1894, after suffering two strokes in 1889, followed by five years of a serious illness.