Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin
Blessed Zelie and Louis Martin:
Married Couple and Parents of Saint Therese of Lisieux
Blessed Louis Martin (1823-1894) and Blessed Zelie Martin (1831-1877) the parents of Saint Therese of Lisieux were beatified as a couple in Lisieux France on 19th October 2008.
Louis Martin was born in Bordeaux France on 22nd August 1823. He was privately baptised soon after birth; the public ceremony was some time later as his father was on military duty in Spain. Marie Azelia Guerin was born near Alencon France on 23rd December 1831. She was baptised the next day in the local church; was always known as Zelie and later became Zelie Martin. Her father, a military veteran, was in the local police force.
Louis was a watchmaker/jeweller and Zelie a lace maker. After a formal religious engagement of three months they married at midnight on 13 July 1858 in the church of Notre Dame in Alencon France. They settled in Alencon from where they conducted their businesses. Some time after the marriage Louis took on the business management of Zelie’s lace making enterprise.
The couple were married for nineteen years before Zelie’s death from breast cancer in 1877. They created a close, caring, family home, where love of God and neighbour were taught and practised. Of their nine children, two of the girls and both boys died at early ages.
Louis and Zelie cared for their children, the poor, the sick and the dying, relatives and neighbours. During the Franco Prussian war they had to billet nine German soldiers and acted with justice and charity towards these men in their home.
It was in and by marriage that Louis and Zelie were to gain their own sanctification and set a heroic example for others. They showed that marriage can be a starting point of the journey to holiness made in the company of a spouse. Married and family life as God meant it to be is a vocation: a call to holiness.
Cardinal Saraiva Martins, Papal Legate said at their beatification, that Louis and Zelie are a gift for married couples, parents, those who have lost a spouse, and those facing illness and death.
Principal Events in the
Lives of Blessed Zelie and Louis Martin
1823 August 22: Louis born in Bordeaux France.
1831 December 23: Marie Azelia Guerin born near Alencon France.
1850 November: Louis set up his watchmaker/jeweller shop in Alencon.
1853 Zelie set up as maker of Point d’Alencon lace in that town.
1858 July 13: Louis and Zelie married.
1859 September 9: Death of Zelie’s mother.
1860 February 22: Birth of Marie: first child of Louis and Zelie.
1861 September7: Birth of Pauline: second child.
1863 June 3: Birth of Leonie: third child.
1864 October 13: Birth of Helene: fourth child. Signs of Zelie’s future illness appear.
1865 Death of father of Louis.
1866 September 20: Birth of Joseph Louis: fifth child and first son.
1866 December Zelie’s ageing father came to live in the Martin household.
1867 February 14: Death of baby Joseph Louis.
1867 December 19: Birth of Jean Baptiste: sixth child.
1868 August 24: Death of baby Jean Baptiste.
1868 September 3: Death of Zelie’s father.
1869 April 28: Birth of Celine: seventh child.
1870 February 22: Death of Helene at five and a half years of age.
1870 August 18: Birth of Marie Melanie Therese: eighth child.
1870 October 10: Death of baby Marie Melanie Therese.
1871 Death of Zelie’s nephew Paul Guerin. Louis and Zelie billet nine German soldiers.
1873 January 2: Birth of Marie Francoise Therese: ninth child - future Saint Therese.
1877 February 24: Death of Sr Marie Dosithee sister and confidante of Zelie.
1877 August 28: Death of Zelie Martin from breast cancer.
1894 July 29: Death of Louis Martin after several years of suffering from an illness in the Bon Saveur psychiatric hospital in Caen. He returned home to die.
2008 October 19: Beatification of Louis and Zelie Martin.
More information on Louis and Zelie Martin can be found here. (Our thanks to Maureen O'Riordan for permission to use the photo.)
Suggested Reading: The Story of a Family – the Home of St Therese of Lisieux, by Fr Stephane Joseph Piat, ofm. Tan Books and Publishers Inc, 1994.