ROME, March 6, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — A Vatican official has announced that the parents of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin, will both be canonized this October, making them the first married couple in the history of the Church to be declared saints at the same time.
Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, said the couple will be canonized on October 19 during a Mass in the Basilica of St. Therese in Lisieux, France. He was speaking at a meeting organized by Libreria Editrice Vaticana to discuss the topic “Of What Use Are Saints?” with a focus on the importance of sanctity in the family.
The date, which is also World Mission Sunday, will coincide with the Synod on the Family that will be taking place at that time in the Vatican.
“Thanks be to God, in October, two spouses, parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, will be canonized,” said Cardinal Amato. “Saints are not only priests and nuns, but also lay people.”
Louis and Zelie Martin were declared “Venerable” on March 25, 1994 by Pope Saint John Paul II. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI beatified both parents on October 19, 2008.
Louis and Zelie were married in 1858 and had nine children, four of whom died in childhood.
Fr. Stéphane-Joseph Piat, in his book The Story of a Family: The Home of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, describes how, despite these losses and the difficulties the family endured, Louis and Zelie never lost sight of their goal of helping each other and their children get to Heaven.
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“In a large household there was not time to bury herself in her grief. The stream of life rose and surged ever forward. The gaps were gradually filled and the parents, while keeping before their eyes the beloved features of those who were gone, spent themselves upon those who remained, uniting in a magnificent solidarity the family on earth and the family beyond the tomb, the latter watching over the former.”
“Four of my children are already well provided for,” Zelie Martin wrote one day, “and the others, yes, the others will also enter into the heavenly kingdom, laden with more merits, since they will have fought longer.”
Zelie passed away in 1877, at the age of 46. Louis was thus left with five very young daughters – Marie, Pauline, Leonie, Celine and Thérèse, who was only four and a half years old when her mother died. Louis died in 1894.
A letter to Thérèse while she was in the convent of Lisieux, from Céline Guérin who was the wife of Isidore Guérin, the brother of Thérèse's mother, contains what may now seem like a prophetic statement about Louis and Zelie: “[God] willed that the mother who guided your early childhood be raised to a more sublime glory and enjoy heavenly delights. Ah! it is because, little Thérèse, your parents are among those we may call saints and who merit bringing forth saints.”
Thérèse was declared a saint by Pope Pius XI on May 17, 1925. Pope Saint John Paul II proclaimed her a Doctor of the Church in 1997.