Therese as a novice.
"From her entrance she astonished the community by her bearing, which was marked by a certain majesty that one would not expect in a child of fifteen."
|Therese did not have to wait long in
suspense. The Pope's blessing and the earnest prayers she
offered at many shrines during the pilgrimage had the
desired effect. At the end of the year Bishop Hugonin
gave his permission, and on April 9, 1888, Therese joined
her sisters in the Carmel at Lisieux. "From her
entrance she astonished the community by her bearing,
which was marked by a certain majesty that one would not
expect in a child of fifteen." So testified her
novice mistress at the time of Therese's beatification.
During her novitiate Father Pichon, a Jesuit, gave a
retreat, and he also testified to Therese's piety.
"It was easy to direct that child. The Holy Spirit
was leading her and I do not think that I ever had,
either then or later, to warn her against illusions....
What struck me during the retreat were the spiritual
trials through which God wished her to pass."
Therese's presence among them filled the nuns with
happiness. She was slight in build, and had fair hair,
gray-blue eyes, and delicate features. With all the
intensity of her ardent nature she loved the daily round
of religious practices, the liturgical prayers, the
reading of Scripture. After entering the Carmel she began
to sign letters to her father and others, "Therese
of the Child Jesus."
In 1889 the Martin sisters suffered a great shock. Their father, after two paralytic strokes, had a mental breakdown and had to be removed to a private sanatarium, where he remained for three years. Therese bore this grievous sorrow heroically.
|On September 8, 1890, at the age of
seventeen, Therese took final vows. In spite of poor
health, she carried out from the first all the
austerities of the stern Carmelite rule, except that she
was not permitted to fast. "A soul of such
mettle," said the prioress, "must not be
treated like a child. Dispensations are not meant for
her." The physical ordeal which she felt more than
any other was the cold of the convent buildings in
winter, but no one even suspected this until she
confessed it on her death-bed. And by that time she was
able to say, "I have reached the point of not being
able to suffer any more, because all suffering is sweet
Photo taken in 1896.
"A soul of such mettle," said the prioress, "must not be treated like a child."
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