St. Thérèse of Lisieux was born into a devout Catholic family at Alençon in Normandy on Jan. 2, 1873. Her mother, (Blessed) Zélie Martin, died of cancer when Thérèse was 4 years old.
With permission of her father, (Blessed) Louis Martin, she entered the Carmelite monastery at age 15, taking the name "Thérèse of the Child Jesus." She also is known as "The Little Flower of Jesus." Her religious community was cloistered, so she never left the convent from the day she entered until her death nine years later.
Her older sister, Pauline, the superior of the community, asked her to write down some of her childhood memories. After her death, Thérèse’s writings were collected and published as her autobiography with the title The Story of a Soul.
In the path to saintliness, Thérèse believed it was unnecessary to accomplish heroic acts, or "great deeds," in order to attain holiness and to express one’s love of God.
She wrote, "Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love."
This "little way" of Thérèse is the foundation of her spirituality. She died on Sept. 30, 1897. Her feast day is observed on Oct. 1.
Her fame spread quickly after her autobiography was published. It has been translated into many languages and millions of copies have been printed. Thérèse was canonized in 1925. One million people gathered in Rome for the event.
In 1997, Pope John Paul II declared Thérèse a "Doctor of the Church." Many people have been helped by her prayers and her "little way." She has kept her promise to "spend my heaven doing good on earth."