Léonie Martin

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Sr. Françoise-Thérèse Martin OVM at the age of 77

Léonie Martin , religious name Françoise-Thérèse , (born June 3, 1863 in Alençon , France, † June 16, 1941 in Caen , France) was a nun in the Convent of the Visitation of Mary in Caen. Léonie was the third child of hell. Zélie and Louis Martin and sister of St. Therese of Lisieux . Her beatification process began in 2015.


Léonie was born on June 3, 1863 in Alençon as the third daughter of the couple Zélie and Louis Martin and was baptized Marie-Léonie. She was in poor health and suffered from a type of chronic whooping cough and then from measles with very severe cramps. At the age of 18 months she was near death but recovered. The parents explained this through the intercession of St. Margaret Maria Alacoque . Since Léonie seemed mentally retarded and had a strenuous temper, she was a cause of deep distress and worry for the whole family, and especially for her mother.

Her sisters Marie and Pauline were brought up in the boarding school of the Visitation Sisters in Le Mans, where their maternal aunt, Sister Marie-Dosithée, was a nun. Léonie was supposed to go to the boarding school too, but the superior did not want to take her in. However, her aunt obtained permission for a trial visit. However, the attempt failed and Léonie was sent back home. At home, Léonie then received private lessons, but was unable to follow the lessons spiritually. Zélie Martin's letters reveal her concern about Léonie's late emotional and intellectual development. Despite her loving care, the mother did not improve Léonie's contradicting spirit. It turned out that Léonie was bullied and corporal punished for over two years by Louise, a housemaid. After the housemaid was released, Léonie's demeanor improved.

Leonie's aunt, sister Marie-Dosithée, who was very close to her, died in the monastery of Le Mans on February 24, 1877. Before she died, Léonie asked her aunt to pray for her in heaven that she would become “a real religious”. On August 28, 1877, Leonie's mother, Zélie Martin, died of breast cancer. Louis Martin moved with his daughters Marie, Pauline, Léonie, Céline and Thérèse from Alençon to Lisieux, where Isidore Guérin, the brother of Zélie Martin, lived with his family.

On October 2, 1882, Léonie's sister Pauline entered the Carmel of Lisieux. In 1886 her sister Marie was accepted into the same convent . On a trip to Alençon, Léonie took the opportunity to ask for admission on October 7, 1886 in the Clarisse monastery there. However, in December she left the monastery after only seven weeks because she could not endure the life of the Poor Clares in terms of health. The following year, Léonie made another attempt to follow her spiritual calling and entered the monastery of the Order of the Visitation in Caen. After six months, however, Léonie was forced to abandon this new attempt as well. In Lisieux she now used her time to visit the poor and the sick and to look after the dying.

On April 9, 1888, Thérèse Martin joined the Carmel of Lisieux at the age of only 15. Louis Martin became seriously ill and had to be placed in the Bon Sauveur Hospital in Caen for three years . Léonie and Céline looked after their father during this difficult time.

On June 24, 1893, Léonie made a second attempt at the Visitation Sisters in Caen, but had to leave the monastery in July 1895 due to illness. Meanwhile, her father died on July 29, 1894, and her sister Céline also entered the Carmel of Lisieux in September 1894.

The chapel of the Convent of the Visitation Sisters in Caen

Thérèse died on September 30, 1897. A year later, The Story of a Soul , Thérèse's autobiography, was published. Léonie read the book and it helped her to realize her own vocation: on January 28, 1899, at the age of 35, Léonie again entered the Convent of the Salesian Sisters of Caen. She was dressed on June 30, 1899 and was given the religious name Françoise-Thérèse.

With the Visiting women, Sister Françoise-Thérèse took on a variety of tasks, but always only as a temporary help or as support for another sister, since she was not trusted to carry out a task alone. She was always sympathetic to her fellow sisters, but she still knew how to give an appropriate answer to some affectionate teasing about her simple disposition. Sister Françoise-Thérèse worked among other things in the infirmary, in the sacristy and at the gate. She continued to suffer from poor health.

She was in contact with her sisters in Carmel by means of extensive correspondence. Only once did the sisters see each other again on the occasion of a testimony of Sr. Françoise-Thérèses in the course of the beatification process of Sr. Thérèses of the Child Jesus in the Carmel of Lisieux. The beatification and canonization of her sister Thérèse were a great joy for Sr. Françoise-Thérèse: On April 29, 1923 Pope Pius XI spoke . Sr. Therese beatified, on May 17, 1925, she was canonized. Sr. Françoise-Thérèse and her biological sisters from the Carmel of Lisieux were invited to the celebrations of the canonization in Rome, but all four preferred to stay in their monastery and avoid the fuss.

At the beginning of 1941, Sister Françoise-Thérèse, marked by illness, was transferred from her cell to the hospital room. On the night of June 16-17, she died peacefully in the presence of her superior.

Beatification process

Since her death, many pilgrims have come to Léonie Martin's grave. Especially parents with difficult children call on her for her advocacy. On January 24, 2015, the Bishop of Bayeux , Jean-Claude Boulanger , announced that he would ask the Congregation for the Causes of Saints for permission to initiate the process of beatification of Léonie Martin at the diocesan level. On July 2, 2015, the feast of the Visitation of Mary , Bishop Boulanger solemnly opened the process of beatification. The postulator for the trial is the Italian Carmelite Antonio Sangalli, General Postulator of the Order of the Discalced Carmelites. Léonie Martin's grave was opened on April 25, 2015. The well-preserved corpse was placed in a plexiglass shrine. It has been resting in the monastery church of the Visitandesses since January 21, 2017. On February 22, 2020, the diocesan phase of the process was solemnly concluded and the material was handed over to Rome.

Individual evidence

  1. Information on the beatification process. Accessed June 10, 2017.
  2. ^ Sermon by Bishop Boulanger at the end of the diocesan phase of the beatification process on February 22, 2020. Accessed March 9, 2020.


  • Stéphane-Joseph Piat: Léonie Martin. A sister of St. Therese von Lisieux , Franz-Sales-Verlag, Eichstätt 2013. ISBN 978-3-7721-0316-2
  • Klaus-Peter Vosen: Léonie Martin. From problem child to hope . Media Maria, Illertissen 2019. ISBN 978-3-947931-11-8
  • Céline Martin: My parents Louis and Zélie Martin. The strong roots of St. Therese von Lisieux , Media Maria, Illertissen 2015. ISBN 978-3-945401-16-3
  • Therese vom Kinde Jesus: Selbstbiographische Schriften , Johannes Verlag, Einsiedeln 2015 (17th ed.). ISBN 978-3-89411-280-6
  • Therese from the child Jesus: The story of a soul , Paulinus Verlag, Trier 2009. ISBN 978-3-7902-2090-2

Web links