Ep. 12 – A Sister of St. Thérèse: Servant of God, Léonie Martin – Bearer of Hope with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Fr. Timothy Gallagher OMVA Sister of St. Thérèse: Servant of God, Léonie Martin – Bearer of Hope with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Episode 12


In this episode, we jump ahead 15 years to 1915. Léonie is now a cloistered religious, Sister Françoise-Thérèse of the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary in Caen.  She is doing her best to live the “little way” as described by her younger sister Thérèse, whose cause for canonization is rapidly moving forward.  This process graces her with an opportunity to visit with her three living sisters, Marie, Celine, and Pauline at the Carmel in Lisieux.

Pauline, now Mother Agnes of Jesus and prioress of the Carmel, develops a close relationship with Léonie.  She will serve Léonie as a mother figure and spiritual director for the rest of her life.  Their correspondence speaks of Léonie’s spiritual growth during this period.


Fr. Gallagher says, “Léonie’s life holds a very important story because she was the forgotten one; she was the one who was in the last place; she was the one who was less gifted than the others. Today we would call her a ‘problem child,’ and we’ll see that she certainly was the source of great anxiety to her parents, especially to her mother, Zélie, who loved her dearly.”

As a child, Léonie suffered from severe illnesses and physical maladies that would plague her entire life. She also struggled with understanding social clues and interactions and with behaving appropriately. Conventional educational models of the day failed to meet her particular needs, and she was labeled “developmentally delayed.” Yet those who knew her well described her as having a “heart of gold.”

Who was Léonie and what were her struggles? Why has her cause of canonization begun?  Father Gallagher, along with Kris McGregor,  answers these questions and explains why Léonie is “a bearer of hope” in this landmark series.

Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. Transformation through God’s Grace How does Léonie Martin’s transformation illustrate the power of God’s grace in a believer’s life?
  2. Importance of Spiritual Relationships How have your spiritual relationships helped you grow in your faith?
  3. Embracing Littleness and Humility How can you incorporate the virtues of humility and gentleness into your daily life?
  4. Facing Spiritual and Physical Struggles Reflect on a time when you experienced spiritual or physical struggles and found strength in your faith.
  5. Impact of Family and Upbringing on Faith How has your family and upbringing influenced your faith, and how can you strengthen this foundation?

The 4 Sisters - Marie, Pauline, Leonie, and Celine

St. Thérèse

A resource used for this series

Images in this post of the Martin/Guerin family are used with permission from the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux website for strictly non-commercial use.  We encourage you to visit the website for more information on this remarkable family.

For more series Fr. Timothy Gallagher podcasts, visit here

Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., was ordained in 1979 as a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  Fr. Gallagher is featured on the EWTN series “Living the Discerning Life:  The Spiritual Teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola.” For more information on how to obtain copies of Fr. Gallaghers’s various books and audio which are available for purchase, please visit  his  website:   frtimothygallagher.org

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