What began with a meeting on a bridge ended in the path to sainthood and canonisation.
One day whilst crossing the bridge of Saint Leonard in Alençon, Zélie saw a man with a dignified appearance. She looked at him. He was tall and had a high open forehead, chestnut hair and blue eyes.
Before Zélie had time even to wonder who this man was, there came to her that strange inner voice which had directed her to take up the art of Point d’Alençon.
This time the voice said:
‘This is he whom I have been preparing for you.’
Louis also made his own enquiries as to the name of the attractive young woman he had seen on the bridge over the river Sarthe. His mother had by chance met Zélie when they were both attending professional classes in lace-making.
Soon the couple got to know each other. It was Divine Providence that these two should meet, but how had Louis been ‘prepared’ for this meeting?
In many ways Zélie and Louis were alike. In others quite different. Both had a long lineage loyal to the Church, devoted to God and also hard working in their worldly affairs. Each took an apprenticeship in a fine skill.
They had felt a call to the life of religion. Here they differed.
Zélie was a lively character and felt called to the active life.
Louis was more contemplative and was attracted to a monastic life.
A true love story
Theirs is a true love story. Louis Martin and Zélie Guerin fell in love at first sight. They loved all their children and wanted the best for them. Above all they loved God and desired that each of their family would love Him.
Theirs is also a story of battles and conflict. The Martins lived at a time of trouble for the Church and also of war between France and Prussia. Their main battle, however, was a spiritual one. Instead of bullets they used prayer which can be more powerful than atomic bombs. If needs be, prayer can provide us with wings to fly over any obstacle or furnish us with bridges to cross deep ravines.
‘Those who trust in the Lord renew their strength. They put on wings like eagles.’
‘I was hard-pressed and was falling, but the Lord came to help me.’
The Martins followed the advice of St Paul and put on the armour of faith, hope and charity. Like faith, prayer can move mountains.
The Martins firmly believed that all those wonderful things were possible. But in practice they discovered that for most of the time all that is required from prayer is a smoothing out of small bumps and filling in of tiny cracks as we make our journey towards heaven. Equally so, God is as satisfied with many little sacrifices as he is with one or two huge ones.
The road to sainthood
Some people might think that this holy couple were considered for canonization simply because they were the parents of St Thérèse; ignoring the fact that Thérèse achieved sanctity because she was the daughter of Louis and Zélie Martin.
Others might say that they did nothing special. They were born, worked at their own trade, met, fell in love, married and had children. Nothing more than you could do. That is just the point.
Instead of doing one or two outstanding things, they did very many little things very well. In other words they lived what Thérèse would describe as her ‘Little Way to Heaven’. But it was not she who taught them this ‘Little Way’. It was they who taught her!
Prayer To Obtain Favours
Through The Intercession Of Louis And Zélie Martin
God our Father, we praise and thank you for Louis and Zélie Martin.
They were exemplary Christians as individuals, and as a married couple who faithfully followed the teachings of the Gospel and of the Church founded by your Divine Son.
In spite of trials, bereavements and sufferings, they brought up their family in obedience to you, and with complete trust in you.
They loved you, and taught each of their children how to love you.
Lord, please grant me the favours I seek through their intercession.