Growing up, I didn’t know a lot about saints, and when I was confirmed into the Catholic Church, we didn’t even pick Confirmation saints. Now that I am a small group leader for high school students preparing for their Confirmation, the idea of selecting a patron saint was brought up again. The leader encouraged me to pick one now, and I decided to pick a saint that shared my Vocation of marriage and motherhood which led me to St. Zélie Martin. St. Zélie Martin and her husband, Louis, were canonized in 2015 and are the first couple to be canonized together. She is also the mother of St. Thérèse of Lisieux (the Little Flower). In my search to learn more about her, I found The Mother of the Little Flower by Celine Martin (Sister Genevieve of the Holy Face) and translated by Fr. Michael Collins, S.M.A.
As the back cover says “This book was written by her daughter Celine , who had access to Zélie’s letters and to reminiscences of her older sisters in the Carmel of Lisieux. It is authentic and inspiring, showing what a tremendous life’s work and accomplishment is it to be a truly Catholic mother.”
Though this book is only a little over 100 pages, it is packed with amazing descriptions of this truly holy woman. By combining letters her mother wrote, correspondence with others, and memories from either herself or her sisters, Sister Genevieve of the Holy Face paints a clear and beautiful picture of what it looks like to truly live as a servant of God. She effectively includes a variety of different aspects of St. Zélie’s life from the saint’s childhood, her role of as a mother and wife, her kindness to others, and her abandonment to God even in the face of immense suffering. This book is full of beautiful quotes from Zélie herself and others who knew her which enhances the writing of her daughter. Despite her heroically virtuous life, the average Catholic reader will be able to find relatable components from her story like being a working mother, struggling with God’s will, and sometimes getting worried about small things. The parts one can’t relate to our shared in such a way that they inspire one to strive for those virtues rather than feeling overwhelmed. There were a few phrases that read a little odd, likely due to their translation from the original French, but they did not detract from the awesome message from this book. I highly recommend this book. I think any Christian would enjoy it, but I think it would be especially meaningful for a Catholic woman looking for a model of Catholic motherhood.