You may remember how some time ago I mentioned the highly unusual event of a husband and wife being canonised at the same time – Saints Louis and Zélie Martin, parents of St Thérèse of Lisieux, the ‘Little Flower’ whose feast day is 1 October.
Thérèse Martin was born in 1873. At the age of 16, she entered the Carmelite convent in Lisieux, Normandy. She became known through her autobiography, ‘The Story of a Soul’, which told of her utter devotion to God and of doing simple everyday things with extraordinary love. Following her death aged just 24 in 1897, she was canonised by Pope Pius XI in 1925. Pope John Paul II declared her a Doctor of the Church in 1997 ‘in tribute to the powerful way her spirituality has influenced people all over the world’.
Leafing through my Catholic Mothers’ Diary, I notice that this is also the month when we celebrate the feast of St Teresa of Ávila – 15 October. Born on 28 March 1515, she entered the Carmelite Order at 16 but did not find it particularly pious or reverent. Subsequently she founded a ‘reformed’ Carmelite convent where she was able to develop her devotion to God and the religious life and to writing books meditating on God's word. She founded convents throughout Spain before her death in 1582 at age 67. Forty years later Pope Gregory XV canonised her, and in 1970 Pope Paul VI conferred on her the honour of Doctor of the Church, making her one of the first women awarded this distinction.
How wonderful to be celebrating two female Doctors of the Church, both very different characters, in one month. Shall we ask them especially to pray for our troubled world this October?
• I hope to see many of you at the UCM business meeting on Saturday 19 October in the Gibberd room of the Metropolitan Cathedral (1–3pm).