The gruelling trials of a saintly family

The Life of St Thérèse of Lisieux
by August Pierre Laveille, Ave Maria Press, £15.99

When Mgr August Pierre Laveille interviewed people who knew the parents of St Thérèse, nobody foresaw that, in 2015, Louis and Zélie Martin would also be canonised. Laveille, therefore, could not have known the true richness of his work as he wrote about the blessed setting which produced not one but three saints.

Perhaps this in itself is sufficient justification for a 62nd edition of The Life of St Thérèse of Lisieux, first published in English in 1928. Within this one volume are the lives of three saints, commissioned by a Carmelite who was the daughter of two of them and a sister of the third.

As the Church looks towards the World Meeting of Families in 2018, The Life of St Thérèse offers a scenario which families today can take to their hearts. At a time when family values are so often under attack, it is good to have the example of a family that faced many difficulties and, through their shared love and differing vocations, also found holiness. This latest edition marks the 20th anniversary of the declaration of Thérèse as a Doctor of the Church and the second anniversary of her parents’ canonisation.

The book has a foreword by Susan Muto, dean of the Epiphany Academy of Formative Spirituality in Pittsburgh. She aptly describes the book as “both timely and timeless”.

The new edition’s distinctive value probably lies in its publication prior to the World Meeting. Although some of the quoted anecdotes are time-related in occurrence and expression, the reader can readily think of parallel situations in his or her own life. Holiness is always relevant. The Life of St Thérèse of Lisieux merely refreshes our understanding of how three people achieved sanctity.