Who is this?
'I sense in myself the vocation
of Warrior, Priest, Apostle,
Doctor, and Martyr.
In the heart of the Church,
I will be love.'
The unlikely answer is St Therese of Lisieux. The saint is often called 'the Little Flower' offering a softer image of a gentle soul whereas Marie Francoise Therese Martin had steely determination and a vision of where she wanted to go and was only thwarted by her poor health. The picture shows her dressed as Joan of Arc, another strong woman of vision.
Here in England, relics of St Therese are making a tour invincing much public interest. Her relics are being displayed in churches around the country not only Catholic churches but Protestant churches and in chapels attached to universities and even one of London's prisons, Wormwood Scrubs - a testament to Therese's popularity as an accessible saint, one who acknowledged the trials and tribulations of daily life.
She is one of the great modern saints and is one of only three women to receive the honour of being recognised as a Doctor of the Church. In his article Saint Therese and the Question of Ordination of Women, Dr. John Wijngaards shares some of his studies about this mighty saint. In the article, he investigates St Therese's longing for the priesthood and her enduring testimony. In her simple 'little' way, Therese stands out as a mighty prophet, challenging the conscience of Church leaders to re-examine the facts.
Catharina Broome OP, a a well known lecturer, writer and preacher based in Stockholm, Sweden, also explores St Therese's priestly vocation. She writes: 'The most significant testimony to the fact that Therese of the Child Jesus priestly vocation was nor a symbolic one but was indeed very serious, is the confidence she shared with her sister Genevieve. Her sister does not give the exact date when Therese confided in her, but says, only that is was some time in 1897 her final year, when she was only 24 years old.
'Don't you see that God is going to take me at an age when I would not have had the time to become a priest. If I had been able to become a priest, it would have been in this month of June, at this ordination that I would have received holy orders. So in order that I may regret nothing, God is allowing me to be sick; I wouldn't have been able to present myself for ordination, and I would have died before having exercised my ministry'
May St Therese of Lisieux continue to be an inspiration to us!