Five Facts About Leonie Martin, Our Patroness

Leonie Martin is the patroness of our apostolate because she is one of us. She was, like those we serve, a woman who wanted to follow the Lord in religious life but encountered many struggles in finding her state-of-life vocation.

Leonie eventually found her permanent vocation as a religious. She has been named a Servant of God, the first step in the process of canonization (the process of being declared a saint of the Roman Catholic Church). Her feast is June 16.

Here are five interesting things about our patroness. 


#1 – Leonie was the third child in a family of future saints

Leonie was the third daughter born to Louis and Zelie Martin. The Martins would go on to have nine children in all—four who died in infancy or early childhood and five daughters who would all eventually enter religious life. 

Leonie’s sister Therese (of Lisieux) was canonized in 1925, and her parents, Louis and Zelie, in 2015. 


#2 – Leonie had a difficult childhood

From a very young age, Leonie dealt with illness and behavioral struggles. As an infant and toddler, she suffered from eczema, which covered her body, and she nearly died at 18 months due to other illnesses. She was a constant source of worry for her mother, Zelie.

She was kicked out of a convent school due to her behavior and suffered abuse from a maidservant. Leonie was perceived as less talented and less beautiful than her sisters—being sickly and mentally underdeveloped. One can imagine the suffering this would have caused in her young heart.


#3 – Leonie left religious life three times

Though she was the first of her sisters to embrace a religious vocation in her heart, her path to final vows was lengthy and painful. 

At age 23, Leonie entered the convent of the Poor Clares. The austere way of life was too difficult for her, and she left after six weeks. She later joined the Monastery of the Visitation at Caen, staying only six months the first time and two years the second time.

Her third attempt to enter the Visitation Monastery (and her fourth attempt at religious life) was successful. And that probably had something to do with the encouragement and intercession of her sister. Keep reading!


# 4 – Leonie was inspired by Therese’s autobiography

Two years after Leonie left the Visitation sisters the second time, her own sister Therese died of tuberculosis. The following year, Therese’s autobiography, A Story of a Soul, was published. Reading her sister’s autobiography gave Leonie new hope, and she decided to attempt religious life once again. In 1899, she re-entered the Monastery of the Visitation, where she made vows and remained until her death in 1941. She took the religious name Françoise-Thérèse.

Fr. Antonio Sangalli, postulator of Leonie’s cause for canonization, said, “[Leonie’s] vocation is the result of her being close to her sister Therese. She helped her sister to embrace her vocation as a sister in the Order….[Leonie] took her sister’s words very seriously, especially the phrase about the little path. She put this into practice with incredible loyalty.”  


#5 – Leonie lived to see Therese’s canonization

Leonie’s sister Therese of Lisieux was canonized in 1925, sixteen years before Leonie’s death. What joy it must have given Leonie to see her little sister—whose life and writings influenced her so deeply—raised to the altars and declared a saint of the Catholic Church.

Though Leonie’s path to religious life was fraught with suffering and obstacles, she found joy in her vocation at last and lived four decades in the monastery. There she found peace and joy, as evidenced by this quote:

“I am very happy–as happy as it is possible to be on this earth. When I look back on my past, as far back as my earliest childhood, and compare that time with this, I am overwhelmed with gratitude to the Heart of Jesus, who has enveloped me in so much love, and who has placed me in this loveliest anteroom of heaven, where I shall live and die.”

Servant of God Françoise-Thérèse, pray for us!


Novena to the Sacred Heart: Day One

Day One: Love that is Total and Unconditional

Opening Prayer: Almighty God and Father, we glory in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, your beloved Son, as we call to mind the great things his love has done for us. Fill us with the grace that flows in abundance from the Heart of Jesus, the source of heaven’s gifts. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Scripture Reading: 1 Cor. 13: 1-13 Love is patient, love is kind, love is not jealous
Matt. 5:43-48 If you love those who love you, what merit is there in that?

Reflection: St. Paul writes to the Corinthians and describes for them the qualities of love. Paul is really describing the qualities of the love that God revealed to us in the Heart of His Son. Paul is challenging us to love the way Jesus did. “Love is patient, kind, not jealous, not prone to anger, there is no limit to its trust, hope, and power to endure…” God wants to mold our heart so that it resembles the Heart of His Son. Let us generously and unconditionally accept that love, and then try to practice unconditional love in our relationship with our neighbor.


1. Pray daily the Prayer of St. Ignatius for Generosity:
Dear Lord, teach us to be generous. Teach us to serve you as you deserve; to give and not to count the cost; to fight and not to heed the wounds; to toil and not to seek for rest; to labor and not ask for reward, save that of knowing that I am doing your will. Amen.

2. At Mass, we see how Jesus gave himself completely for us. Every time you attend Mass, make an unconditional offering of yourself to God the Father, in union with the complete offering of Jesus.

This Novena in Honor of the Sacred Heart was written by Rev. Peter Schineller S.J. for the Apostleship of Prayer/League of the Sacred Heart .

September 30th: Original Publication of The Story of a Soul

From Leonie Martin: A Difficult Life by Marie Beaudin-Croix

The Story of a Soul was published at the end of September 1898. Leonie immediately devoured the book and was moved to rediscover memories of their shared childhood; but most importantly of all, she finally knew all the secrets of the love which Therese and her beloved Lord had shared. The Story of a Soul became Leonie’s bedside book; and it helped her to regain hope for her own vocation.

Leonie’s heart was constantly drawn toward her beloved Visitation Order; but she hesitated, because of her fragile health and her innate restlessness – a restlessness which sometimes made others see her as indecisive, whereas in fact she was strong-willed to the point of stubbornness.

One day, Leonie would learn – and would bear witness to it at the Process for Therese’s Beatification, in 1910 – that in early 1888, after Leonie’s first attempt to join the Visitation Order, Therese had said prophetically to a Benedictine sister in Lisieux: ‘We must not worry about the fact that Leonie’s attempts at religious life have been unsuccessful. After my death, she will enter the Visitation Order; she will take my name, and that of Saint Francis de Sales.’ In 1888 Therese was fifteen and about to enter the Carmelite convent, and no one dreamed that she would die young; she was in good health, and photographs of her as a novice show us a cheerful, round-faced little country girl.

In 1915, during the Apostolic Process for the Cause of Therese, Leonie recounted a fact which she had learned from Pauline: ‘Mother Marie Gonzaga, the prioress, told Therese that on the day of her Profession (8 September 1890), when she prostrated herself , she should pray that our dear father would be cured; but in fact, she prayed, “God, since Mother Marie told me to ask this of You, grant that Papa may be cured, if it be Your will; but grant that it be Your will that Leonie should become a Visitandine, and if she has no vocation, I beg You to send her one; You cannot refuse me this.” It is true that I made another fruitless attempt to join the Visitation Order; but the faith of this Servant of God was unshakeable.’

(Pages 72-73.)

Happy Feast Day to Blesseds Louis and Zélie Martin!

Today is the Feast Day of Blesseds Louis &  Zélie Martin, the parents of Léonie Martin (our namesake!) and of St. Thérèse. In their honor, we offer you a few short quotes and a prayer.

“If the Blessed Virgin doesn’t cure me, I shall implore her to cure my child, Léonie, to develop her mind and to make her a saint.” ~ Zélie Martin, in a letter to her brother

“Léonie will love God very much, and will be good to everyone.” ~ Zélie Martin, shortly before her death

“When Léonie left the Visitandines, he did not complain; he never reproached God for not having answered his prayers to send his daughter a vocation. Indeed, it was with a kind of joy that he went to meet her. Léonie spent her time in Lisieux visiting the sick and the dying and doing house work.” ~ St. Thérèse speaking of her father

[All quotes from the book Léonie Martin, A Difficult Life, by Marie Baudouin-Croix]

Prayer for the Canonization of Blesseds Louis and Zélie Martin

God of eternal love, You gave us Blesseds Louis and Zélie Martin, the parents of Léonie and St. Thérèse, as an example of holiness in marriage. They remained faithful to You and Your commandments in all the duties and trials of life. They desired to raise their children to become saints. May their prayers and example help Christian family life to blossom in our world today. If it be Your will, grant us the grace we now ask of You through the intercession of Blesseds Louis and Zélie Martin, and let them be counted among the Saints of the Church. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blesseds Louis and Zélie, pray for us as you prayed for your children.

Many thanks to Jacqueline Thérèse for providing quotes and prayer!