The Rose Foundation for Children, Inc., is a non-profit corporation organized and operated exclusively for charitable purposes, to provide relief to poor, distressed, underprivileged and sick children in the USA and abroad. It is named for St. Therese of Lisieux, whose legacy is to send “showers of roses” to those who pray to her.
Marie Francoise Therese Martin was born on January 2, 1873 in Alencon, France, to very pious parents Louis Martin and Zelie Guerin. She was the youngest of nine children, only five of whom survived. At the age of four and a half, she lost her beloved mother to breast cancer. Following this tragedy, Mr. Martin moved with his five daughters to Lisieux, to their family home known as Les Buissonnets (The Hedges). It is there that Therese experienced a painful childhood, fraught with immense sensitivity and melancholy, consoled only by her loving sisters and doting father who called her his “little queen.” The call to religious life was not new to the Martin family, as Therese’s sisters left for the convent one by one. However Therese was boldest of all, having appealed to the pope to allow her to enter the Carmelite convent at Lisieux at the tender age of 15. Granted her deepest desire, she embraced religious life and took the name of St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.
At Carmel, Therese lived a hidden life of deep prayer and sacrifice. She was blessed with great intimacy with God, and developed her own path to holiness through what has come to be known as her “Little Way” of spiritual childhood. Although she lived an obscure life within the walls of the Carmel cloister, she spent each day with an unshakable confidence in God’s love and mercy. For Therese, what mattered in life was “not great deeds, but great love.”
Therese suffered greatly in the last year of her life, battling tuberculosis. She died on September 30, 1897 at the young age of 24. Through her autobiography, “The Story of a Soul,” the world came to know about Therese. She promised to make her presence known, and to begin her mission of making God loved after her death. Therese said, “I will spend my heaving doing good on earth. I will let fall a shower of roses.” Countless roses have been strewn, and countless lives have been touched by her intercession. Millions of people throughout the world have adopted her “little way” of holiness. The inspiration of Therese’s spirituality and her powerful presence from heaven touched so many people so quickly after her death, that Pope Pius XI canonized her on May 17, 1925. In 1997, Pope John Paul II declared St. Therese a Doctor of the Church, the youngest ever to have such an honor. St. Therese has been acclaimed the “greatest saint of modern times.” All over the world, her shower of roses continues to fall. St. Therese’s feast day is celebrated on October 1.