Saint Theresa of the Infant Jesus, one of the most instantly popular saints of the twentieth century, was canonized less than thirty years after her death at the age of twenty-four.
Marie Francoise Martin was born in Alecon, France on January 2, 1873. She was the youngest of nine children of Louis Martin, a watchmaker and Zelie Guerin.
Her mother died when she was five, and the family moved to Lisieux where she was raised by her older sister and aunt. At the age of 15 in 1888, Marie Francoise was accepted by the Carmel in Lisieux, taking the name of Theresa of the Child Jesus.
The young nun's autobiography, L'histoire d'une âme (Story of a Soul), written at the command of her prioress, was much admired for its deep spiritual wisdom and beauty. The book presented people with a compelling example of spiritual maturity and piety achieved by an ordinary young girl. An anecdote, that she had promised to send roses as a sign of her intercession led to the affectionate nickname, the "Little Flower".
St. Theresa suffered tuberculosis, and in June 1897 she was removed to the infirmary of the convent where she died on September 30. She was beatified by Pope Pius XI in1923 and canonized in 1925.
On October 19, 1997, Pope John Paul II proclaimed her a Doctor of the Church, the third woman to be so recognized in light of her holiness and the influence of her teaching on spirituality in the Church.