Written by Shasta Leininger, a Catholic wife, full-time working mom, and friend of Stella & Tide
Saints Louis and Zelie Martin, parents of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (or the Little Flower), were the first married couple to be canonized by the Catholic Church in 2015 by Pope Francis. The couple was married on July 12, 1858, after only three months of courting. Both Louis and Zelie had aspirations of religious life, but the Lord had other plans and their commitment to God’s will led them to the vocation of marriage. The couple had 9 children; five of their children entered religious life while the other four died at an early age. When their daughters passed away, Zelie and Louis leaned on their faith to cope with the overwhelming sorrow of losing a child.
The couple worked together along their life journey through parenting, marriage, and even in business. Louis was a watchmaker and Zelie was a lace maker; however, Louis gave up his career to help Zelie run her small business. He was constantly by Zelie’s side as she battled breast cancer. When she passed away, their youngest, Thérèse, was just four years old and Louis continued to love and care for his family.
As I celebrate my 20-year wedding anniversary this year, I find it fitting that I was chosen to write this blog post. Zelie and Louis were married for 19 years and together weathered the storms and sorrow of losing their children as well as the battle of terminal illness. I cannot imagine the depth of their pain and loss, but God saw them through it all and in the end, they became saints with Him in heaven. Their strength and bond as a couple were remarkable; by their example, we should always strive for holiness in life, marriage, work, and parenting. The Lord will carry us through always, despite the circumstances.
The vocation of marriage is a gift that we should embrace with passion and gratitude. Marriage is not easy by any means, and it requires self-sacrifice. Although it is hard at times, we should recognize the fruits of this vocation: patience, unconditional love, friendship, family, support, and a shared faith in Christ. To married couples, thank God for your marriage and truly recognize the fruits of your vocation. Write them down and go back to them when you are having a rough day. Focus on the good of your marriage and all that God has blessed you with through this vocation. God chose you for this season and this life—you have been abundantly blessed!
Let us take this time today to pray that all married couples follow the example of Louis and Zelie’s commitment to live out God’s will with this beautiful prayer, which was offered before their joint canonization:
God Our Father, I thank you for Louis and Zelie Martin, a couple united in faith, giving the witness of an exemplary Christian life through the exercise of the duty of their state in life and the practice of the evangelical virtues.
In the education of a large family, through trials, mourning, and suffering, they generously expressed their trust in You and their submission to Your will.
Deign to grant, O Lord, the graces that I seek, in the hope that the father and mother of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus will one day be proposed as models for today's families for the entire Church. Amen.