During Therese’s time as a Carmelite nun, she was ordered by her superiors to write her spiritual autobiography on three occasions. One of those superiors was her older sister, Pauline, who was also a Carmelite nun. Pauline knew her younger sister was not only holy but also gifted at explaining spiritual matters, and she obviously thought that Therese’s thoughts about God’s presence in her life would be worth reading. After Saint Therese’s death in 1897, Pauline, under obedience to her own superior at the time, edited the three writings to make them appear to be one document.
Clearly Therese came from a gifted family because her sister Pauline’s edits helped make it easier for readers to absorb what Therese had to say. Therese’s sister Celine brought a camera with her when she too entered the Carmelites and took photographs of Therese, which were later published and helped promote devotion to her saintly sister.
Devotion to Saint Therese outside of France began in Poland and Ireland, but it quickly spread all over the world. Her autobiography has since been translated into dozens of languages, and multiple English translations are available. Devotees of Saint Therese, inspired by The Story of a Soul, include popes (Francis and John Paul I), saints (Teresa of Calcutta, Pio of Pietrelcina, and Giuseppe Moscati), writers, philosophers, and even a convicted and repentant murderer (Jacques Fesch), proving that the “little way” of holiness that she describes in her writings has the power to touch hearts and minds all over the world. Because we are all “little souls” in God’s sight, just like Therese.
Saint Therese, teach me about your “little way” of holiness.