Sunday, August 10, 2014

European Adventure 2012: Lisieux Day 1 (Part 2)

After visiting St. Therese's childhood home, we went to the convent where she spent the last 9 years of her life (before dying of tuberculosis at age 24).  It is here that she wrote her famous spiritual writings and spent countless hours in prayer and sacrifice.  This is also the site of her tomb.

Saint Therese's personal crucifix and the crown she wore at her profession of vows

"Holiness consists simply in doing God's will, and being just what God wants us to be."
-Saint Therese

Saint Therese's habit and shoes
"I know now that true charity consists in bearing all our neighbors' defects--not being surprised at their weakness, but edified at their smallest virtues."
-Saint Therese

Art supplies used by Saint Therese
"Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love."
-Saint Therese
Holy cards of Saint Therese

The tomb of Saint Therese of Lisieux
The most memorable part of our visit to Carmel was spending time in prayer before Saint Therese's tomb.  The light was dimmed in the quiet, serene little chapel.  At that intimate, silent moment, we were the only visitors at the tomb of this great Saint; our dear friend.  We prayed on our knees for her intercession for our little family and all of our loved ones.
We finished up our evening by paying a quick visit to the empty, cold, dark St. Peter's Church not far from our hotel.  Inside this ancient medieval church was the confessional St. Therese used before she entered the convent at Carmel.
After a quick visit to St. Peter's (we would return first thing in the morning to explore it completely), we tried to find some food.  To our surprise, many of the restaurants in town that we stopped at were serving as a bar that night and weren't serving food, so we ended up walking to a small supermarket not far from our hotel and purchasing some pre-made sandwiches, fruit, and yogurt.  We took our food back to our hotel room and had a picnic.  We looked down from our room at the town square below and watched ice skaters skating on the square's ice rink, enjoying the brisk evening.
It had been a day to treasure.
"Everything is a grace, everything is the direct effect of our father's love —
difficulties, contradictions, humiliations, all the soul's miseries, her burdens, her needs — everything, because through them, she learns humility, realizes her weakness — Everything is a grace because everything is God's gift.
Whatever be the character of life or its unexpected events —
 to the heart that loves, all is well." 
-Saint Therese

European Adventure 2012: Lisieux Day 1 (Part 1)

The next stop on our trip was a life-long dream come true.  Saint Therese of Lisieux has been one of my favorite Saints since third grade.  Saint Therese was the patron Saint of my elementary school and childhood church.  I spent many years of my life learning about this holy young woman and her spirituality.  I love her simplicity and her heroic love.

When I was in college, visiting convents and discerning God's Will for my life, I prayed many novenas to Saint Therese asking her to pray for God's plan in my life.  I later discovered that my future husband (who also loves Saint Therese) also prayed many novenas during his college years asking Saint Therese to help him find his future wife!  Our heavenly friend did intercede for us, and we were married just a week and a half before her feast day in Saint Theresa's Church in Lincoln, NE. 

My sweet husband made sure that Lisieux, France was on our itinerary!  To visit the home of one of my heroines since childhood was absolutely unforgettable!

Saint Therese was born in 1873 and lived only 24 years, much of which was spent in a cloistered convent in Lisieux, France. Her spirituality is called the Little Way: doing small things with great love.  Her spiritual writings were so profound and applicable for every Christian that they are still very popular today.  She was declared a "Doctor of the Church" by Pope John Paul II in 1997.

The drive to Lisieux was breathtaking: French countryside with rolling green hills.  We found Lisieux to be a small, quiet, ordinary town.  A humble home for a humble Saint.

Our hotel was right across the street from Saint Therese's childhood church, St. Peter's!  Saint Therese went to Mass here with her family every week when she was a little girl. We loved this view from our hotel window!

Les Buissonnets was the childhood home of Saint Therese in Lisieux.  This is the setting of countless stories I've heard and read about little Therese and her family.  To be here was like a dream. 

We entered Saint Therese's childhood home and we were greeted by a sweet French nun who spoke zero English.  She smiled graciously and pushed the "play" button on a recorded audio tour of the home.  Peter snoozed serenely in his stroller as we listened to the tour and walked through her home. 

Saint Therese's entryway and fireplace

Saint Therese became very ill when she was young.  Her miraculous healing was attributed to the intercession of Our Lady.  Therese stayed in this room during her illness.

The Dining Room

One of Saint Therese's Dresses

Saint Therese's First Communion Dress

This picture was taken in the bedroom which Saint Therese spent the majority of her childhood.  It is now filled with many objects from her childhood.

Another picture of her childhood bedroom

This floor was the original floor in their home! 

The backyard gardens

We were the only people (other than two sweet nuns) at Saint Therese's house during the majority of our visit!  It made us feel like we were her special guests. It didn't feel like a tourist stop at all, it felt like a home.  It was incredibly peaceful and absolutely unforgettable.

Praise God for such an incredible gift.

"When I die, I will send down a shower of roses from the heavens, I will spend my heaven by doing good on earth."
Saint Therese of Lisieux