Since January 12 the pilgrim relics of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus is on its fourth visit to the Philippines. The more than 45 archdioceses and dioceses included in the itinerary will host, or have hosted Saint Thérèse in their cathedrals, churches, shrines and schools all over the country.
Her relics will be in the Philippines until May 31.
This Discalced Carmelite nun who had lived almost unknown for nine years at her little Carmelite monastery in Lisieux, Normandy, and died at 24 years old in 1897, had expressed her wish to be a missionary until the end of times, to travel to the five continents of world, preaching the Good News and teaching others to love God as she loved Him.
Until this very day, more than 100 years after her death, Saint Thérèse continues to fulfil this desire to be a missionary, with the pilgrimage of her relics around the world.
Virgin Mary’s smile on Thérèse
The Mother’s Day celebration this year falls on May 13. What could be a more auspicious day for an event that occurred 135 years ago!
When the 4-year-old Thérèse’s mother, Zelie, died of breast cancer in 1877, she became a timid, very sensitive child who cried even about very insignificant matters. This continued on until her elder sister Pauline left home to enter Carmel as nun.
In her writings, Saint Thérèse related that as a child she suffered from an illness, which, by its symptoms, resembled what we now know as depression, an evil that afflicts millions of people around the world and that the saint would have passed, thanks to the Blessed Virgin’s smile.
In her writing, the Carmelite saint wrote: “May 13, 1883, feast of Pentecost. On the bed, I set my eyes on the image of Our Lady and…suddenly the Blessed Virgin seemed beautiful to me, so beautiful that I never saw anything like it, her face exhaled an ineffable kindness and tenderness, but what plunged deep into my soul was the ‘charming smile of the Blessed Virgin.’
“At that moment all my sorrows were gone, two thick tears rolled down my cheeks and fell on my face, they were tears of pure joy…Ah! I thought, the Blessed Virgin smiled at me, I am happy…It was because of her, because of her intense prayers, that I had the grace of the smile of the Queen of Heaven,” she said.
Exactly 135 years ago today, Our Lady’s ravishing smile healed the little Thérèse of her illness.
Let us ask her, Our Lady of the Smile, through our dear Saint Thérèse, to smile at us, and heal our dear Philippines.
Prayer to Our Lady of the Smile
O Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, who, through a visible smile, did once console and cure thy privileged child, Saint Thérèse of the Infant Jesus. We beseech thee, console us also in the sorrows of this life; detach our hearts from the world. Grant us health both of soul and body, strengthen our hope, obtain for us the favor of eternally enjoying in heaven thy gracious motherly smile. Amen.
O Virgin of the Smile, convert sinners, heal the sick and assist the dying.
Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, pray for us.
A Blessed Feast of our Mother, the Virgin of the Smile.
Torres is a member of the Official Entourage of the Fourth Philippine Visit of the Pilgrim Relics of Saint Thérèse. He is also a member of the Provincial Secretariat of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites Philippines Province of Saint Teresa of Jesus.