Ep. 2 – A Sister of St. Thérèse: Servant of God, Léonie Martin – Bearer of Hope with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

A Sister of St. Thérèse: Servant of God, Léonie Martin – Bearer of Hope with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Episode 2

A sister of St. Therese: Servant of God, Leonie Martin
Léonie Martin

Fr. Timothy Gallagher OMV
Fr. Timothy Gallagher

In this episode, we hear a little more about her younger sister, Marie Hélène, who died at the age of 5, as well three other siblings, Joseph Louis, Joseph Jean-Baptiste, and Marie Mélanie-Thérèse, who all died during infancy. We then begin to experience the challenges of Leonie’s education and the ability to interact with others appropriately.  What is the family to do?  How can her challenges be addressed in love?

We also here more from Léonie’s loving aunt, Zélie’s sister, Elise, now known as Sister Marie-Dosithée,  a member the Visitation Sisters.

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. Understanding Léonie’s Struggles: How does understanding Léonie’s early life struggles shed light on the complexity of human experience and the role of providence in shaping individuals?
  2. The Role of Family Dynamics: Reflecting on the dynamics within the Martin family, what insights can be gained about the impact of family relationships on personal development and resilience?
  3. Lessons in Patience and Trust: In witnessing the challenges faced by Léonie and her family, what lessons can we draw regarding the virtues of patience and trust in God’s providence, especially in the face of prolonged difficulties?
  4. Recognizing Hidden Qualities: Consider how Léonie’s story highlights the importance of looking beyond surface struggles to recognize the hidden qualities and potential within individuals. How can this perspective influence our interactions with others?
  5. Importance of Gentleness and Encouragement: Reflect on the transformative power of gentleness, encouragement, and belief in the goodness of others, as demonstrated in Léonie’s response to her aunt’s approach. How can these qualities be applied in our own relationships and interactions?
  6. Maintaining Hope Amidst Challenges: Despite repeated setbacks, Zelie Martin maintained hope for Léonie’s transformation. How does her unwavering hope serve as an example for us in times of adversity and uncertainty?
  7. Trusting in Divine Mercy: In Zélie’s conviction that only a miracle could change Leonie’s nature, how does her trust in God’s mercy resonate with the concept of seeking divine intervention in our own struggles and challenges?
  8. Lessons from St. Monica’s Example: Drawing parallels between Zélie’s perseverance and St. Monica’s prayers for her son, Augustine, how can we learn from the example of persistent prayer and hope in God’s transformative grace?

Leonie's parents - Sts. Louis and Zélie Martin



Hélène (who died at the age of 5)


St. Thérèse

Léonie's Aunt and Uncle - Céline and Isidore Guérin

Léonie's Aunt - Sr. Marie Dosithée (Élise Guérin)

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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