Grace intervened to
change her life as she was going up the stairs at Les Buissonnets
on her return from midnight mass at Saint Peter's Cathedral on
December 25, 1886. Something her father said provoked a sudden
inner change. The Holy Child's strength supplanted her weakness.
The strong character she had had at the age of four and a half
was suddenly restored to her. A ten-year struggle had ended. Her
tears had dried up. Freed at last from herself, she embarked on
her "Giant's Race". "My heart was filled with charity,
I forgot myself to please others and, in doing so, became happy
myself'." Now she could fulfill her dream of entering the
Carmel as soon as possible to love Jesus and pray for sinners.
Grace received at mass in Summer 1887 left her with a vision of
standing at the foot of the cross, collecting the blood of Jesus
and giving it to souls. Having heard people speak of the three
murders committed by a certain Pranzini, she decided to save him
from hell through prayer and sacrifice. On September 1, 1887,
she wept for joy; just before being guillotined, the prisoner
kissed the crucifix. For Thérése, her "first
child" had obtained God's mercy. She hoped that many others
would follow once she was in the Carmel.
1887 was a year of overall development; physical, intellectual,
artistic and especially spiritual. With the stubbornness of a
woman in love, she fought to enter the Carmel at the age of fifteen.
She had to overcome the opposition of her father (easily persuaded),
her uncle Guérin, the bursar of the Carmel and Monseigneur
Hugonin, the Bishop of Bayeux. So, during the pilgrimage to Italy
with her father and sister Céline, she decided to approach
Pope Leo XIII himself.
The month of November
1887, when she discovered Switzerland, Florence, Venice, Assisi
and above all Rome, marked a turning point in her life. She looked
and listened eagerly now realizing that priests were not angels,
but "weak and fragile human beings", greatly in need
of prayer. She understood better just what it meant to be a Carmelite.
But the aim of her pilgrimage never wavered; to ask the Pope's
permission to enter the Carmel at fifteen. According to Céline,
the audience which took place on Sunday November 20, 1887, was
a disaster. Pope Leo XIII answered Thérèse's entreaties
evasively. The young girl was carried out in tears by the papal
guards. Now she only had Jesus to turn to.
Back in Lisieux and
after a difficult wait, she finally received Bishop Hugonin's
permission. But she still had to be patient a while longer. On
Monday April 9, 1888, an emotional and tearful but determined
Thérèse Martin said good-bye to Les Buissonnets
and her family. She was going to live "for ever and ever"
in the desert with Jesus and twenty-four enclosed companions.
She was fifteen years and three months old.
to Important dates in the Life of St Therese