Zelie and Louis worked together to give their children a good spiritual education. They were careful of the amusements the children engaged in and the excessive consumerism of their age. Additionally, they were attentive to the needs of the poor. When a poor person would knock on the family door, the children were taught how to give alms joyfully and personally. The trajectory for Zelie is the same Therese would follow in her life. Humble acknowledgement of who she was, relying on the providence of God, and with this faith, a sure hope was born for the service of others. This increasing humility in Zelie countered the anxiety of her youth and was the cause of her joy.
Zelie died at the young age of 46 years. Not as young as Therese’s of 24 years, but certainly in the prime of life with the cares of her children on her mind. Her hope for heaven was the basis of her happiness. She regarded her sufferings from her childhood, and the death of four of her own children, as God’s way of teaching her that this earth is not our true home. She considered her deceased children’s eternal happiness as compensation for her grief and looked forward to being united with them in heaven. Her final illness of breast cancer was a painful death.
In light of her unfinished work of raising her children, Zelie made a pilgrimage to Lourdes in the hope of a cure. On pilgrimage, she was reassured by her faith that “he who wounds can also heal the wound.” Though she was not physically cured of her cancer, Zelie felt as if her prayers were answered, evidenced by her cheerful attitude. She faced her cancer with confidence and fortitude and tried to help her family do the same. Her witness to the Christian life is urgently needed today and is why saints of our age are important voices to consider.
Saint Zelie Quick Takes:
- She’s the mother of Saint Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church.
- This quote (from one of her letters) kind of encapsulates her devotion to her faith and her willingness to be extremely practical about matters of holiness: “I want to become a saint, and that won’t be easy. There’s a lot of wood to chop and the wood is as hard as rock. It would have been better if I’d tried earlier, while it was less difficult. Oh well, ‘better late than never.’” So many more quotes. If you need encouragement from someone who experienced a faith and family life that could only laughably be described as “challenging,” find something written by Saint Zelie.
- She was canonized with her husband, Louis Martin. The miracles that led to their beatification and canonization both revolved around the miraculous healings of newborns – an impossibly beautiful picture of intercessory graces, since the Martins lost three of their own children as infants.
Here’s the text of my email:
Never a delay to sanctity. Augustine make me a saint but not quite yet.
Zelie & Louis Martin demonstrated this beatitude of following God’s will and meeting hostility. They eschewed the immodest entertainments of French society as they deemed those activities out of line with God’s will for their family. Louis & Zelie Martin also observed a modest attitude towards clothing. Though they did not dress their daughters in rags, as that would have been inappropriate for their station in life, they also did not dress extravagantly. This was at odds with their contemporaries. To avoid an extravagant wedding, which would have been the norm and which they could have afforded, they married at midnight. This is not to say all couples should get married at midnight. Rather, the Martins demonstrated a sensitivity of doing all things in the light of Christ, regardless of criticism from others.
Gianna Beretta Molla (d 1962) and Pietro Molla Beatified 1994 JPII
Italian (both Italians) diaspora Brazil has a significant population of Italians, followed by Argentina, then USA.
Gianna came from a devout home of 13 children. All of her siblings earned academic degrees, and some received vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Maria, Gianna’s mother, made a habit of taking her children to Daily Mass and the Communion Rail. Both of her parents, her (father, Alberto) saw to the children’s complete education both spiritual and secular.
Gianna notes that receiving her First Holy Communion at age 5 and Confirmation at age 7 yrs was fundamental to her spirituality. (TLM, in fact all of the preceding modern saints were followers of it.)
At her Confirmation she made two resolutions 1. Rather die than commit mortal sin & 2. Everything for Jesus.
In her senior year, both her parents died. She would enter medical school that same year. First in the Univ of Milan and then Pavia.
As a young doctor, she was involved with Catholic Action while keeping a busy practice. During her affiliation with Catholic Action, she evangelized and grew in her prayer life. From this deepening prayer life, she decided to become a medical missionary in Brazil. A clear indication of her concern for the poor.
Giana had a brother who was a Capuchin friar in Brazil. He had medical training but had discerned a call to the priesthood. While in Brazil she encountered an engineer, her future husband Pietro, who was also involved with Catholic Action and other volunteer activities.
Gianna began to discern the vocation of marriage. She prayed a lot and asked her friends and siblings to pray for her intention as well. Her confessor did not tell her what to do but only said, “If all good Catholic girls went into the convent, then where would we get our Christian mothers?”
Telling in Zelie 9 children, Gianna 13 siblings, lost fundamental respect for baby in the womb, lost respect for the mother. Mothers then lose respect themselves. Generosity from God and generosity within ourselves go together.
Gianna lived this generosity in her home life. 1968 Sara born, grateful to be here. Get over fear over children, problems, burdens, expensive. Always and ever a blessing. No more beautiful gift from God to a marriage is a child.
Tangible sign of two flesh becoming one.
 Holbock 455