Editor's Note: This article is compiled with permission from a biography of the Martins by Louise Kirk in The Wanderer.
ROME, October 19, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) — On October 18, 2015, Louis and Zélie Martin, a French married couple who lived in the late 19th century, were declared “saints” by Pope Francis in Rome. Following the procedures of the Catholic Church, the couple were sainted following the confirmation of two miracles, the first involving the cure of an Italian child with lung trouble and the second a cure of a gravely sick baby.
The couple is best known for being mother and father to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, a Carmelite nun famous for her “little way,” a path to perfection described in a set of letters she wrote to her superior.
Beyond the miraculous cures associated with them, Zélie and Louis are widely considered a model couple — they are, in fact, the very portrait of a pro-life family for our day.
Here then are the top 6 reasons why Louis and Zélie Martin are pro-life heroes:
6) They were open to life.
One of the best ways of showing your pro-life convictions is by being open to life even when having another baby might be difficult. As everyone knows, having a large family is never easy, but there's no better way to send the message that every life counts.
Zélie’s health was never robust and bearing children took its toll on her. Despite this, and early symptoms of the illness that would take her life, she insisted to Louis that she wanted a ninth baby. Even he was worried. They had already lost four children, and were running against medical advice, but together they trusted in God, and gave the world St. Thérèse.
5) They loved chastity.
Probably the number one reason why there are so many abortions in today's world is that so many people have sexual relations outside of marriage. But not only did Louis and Zélie honor their pledge to be pure before marriage, they even continued to do so after marriage.
Both Louis and Zellie, before being married, wanted to live the celibate, religious life. Louis wanted to be a monk, but was rejected because he did not know Latin. Zélie wanted to become a nun, but she was refused by the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul for health reasons. Once they were married, they held back from having sexual relations for ten months, but came to realize their great desire for children.
4) They trusted in God.
Many couples choose abortion because they don't have God in their life. They believe they are alone, with no one to turn to. But the Martins knew better. They trusted in God, brought nine children into the world, and provided for them through hard work.
Martin was a clockmaker, and Zélie was a very successful lacemaker. Out of trust for God and his commandment to “keep holy the Sabbath (Sunday)” Zélie and Martin would never work on a Sunday. This was something that Zélie particularly admired in Louis, saying that she thought that they were blessed by the Lord with prosperity as a reward for his being so faithful to the Sunday rest. This was quite some sacrifice given that other clockmakers remained open on a day when people had time to shop.
3) They were there for their kids.
So many pro-choicers wrongly accuse pro-lifers of being interested in life before birth and of not caring about children once they are born. Nothing could be further from the truth in the case of the Martins. They woke up at 5:30 am each morning to get to Church. They made sure each child was educated, sending them to the best schools they could, and making sure their Faith was nourished by family prayer.
2) They knew their children belonged to God, not to them.
Part of what feeds the abortion culture is the false idea that children belong to parents like property. Children, in this view, are there to give parents pleasure. So if the pregnancy is not wanted, the obvious solution is to “throw away” (by abortion) that piece of property (the child) that's bothering your lifestyle. After all, if a child is just like another iPhone, who would want an iPhone that wakes you up three times a night and forces you to stay home to take care of it? But children aren't things — they are precious persons who belong to God alone. And the Martins knew this perfectly.
The Martins could have wanted a lot of children to have more people work for them in their business, or to have someone to take care of them in their old age, but they didn't: the Martins knew that their children had their own lives to live.
It turns out that of the five children they had who survived into adulthood (all were girls) all five became nuns, moving away into convents where they stayed until the end of their lives.
1) They respected life from conception until natural death, because they loved God.
Louis Martin lived 17 years after his wife died. He had always been a bright, lively man. But for the last two years of his life, he suffered from dementia. Nonetheless, he lived out the remaining days of his life with real dignity — never once asking to be put down. Of course, his daughters looked after him until his death in 1894.
The lessons the father gave on the preciousness of life must have made a deep impression on his children, especially his youngest, the little Thérèse, today better known as Saint Thérèse. When her time came to die from turberculosis, at the young age of 24, even though she was in terrible pain (dying from tuberculosis is kind of like drowning, because your lungs fill with water), she never asked for euthanasia. The doctor was so impressed, he told the other nuns watching: “Ah! If you only knew what this young nun was suffering!” When she finally did die her final words were “My God, I love you!”
This gives us the secret behind why Louis and Zélie Martin were such pro-life heroes: They simply trusted and loved God, who is Life himself!