St Thérèse of Lisieux - 'The Little Flower'
Despite the sad times of her life, and there were many, Thérèse learned to trust God and Mary, the Mother of Jesus. During the sad times, she believed that God was holding her hand. Even after her Mother died when Therese was very young, she looked at the stars one night when walking with her father, and saw her name written there in the sky - a big "T" – and she knew what all children should know, that God knows us personally and that we do not get lost in the crowd. God's special love and affection is always present, and we simply have to trust the presence of God's unconditional love in our lives.
St. Thérèse's teachings of how to be holy, how to be a child of God, and to be close to God, she called "her little way of spiritual childhood." She learned that being holy is very simple – it involves trusting God with confidence and doing ordinary things in life with great love. Her "little ways" is about doing little things to please people, bring a smile to someone's face and heart, reaching out to let people know they are special – and accepting disappointments with patience not anger.
Thérèse remembered that Jesus always used a child as an example – whenever people got complicated or confused, Jesus brought over a child and told people to be like little children – trusting God and loving others, in innocence, wonder and simplicity. That's why adults today need children to remind them of what it is like to be a child of God. Thérèse is the patron of childhood spirituality and makes holiness available to everyone.
Thérèse was canonised in 1925 and in 1997 she was declared a Doctor of the Church, one of only three women to be so. She is the patron saint of missionaries, Aids sufferers, florists and the sick.
Her feast day is celebrated on 1st October each year.