A Sister of St. Thérèse: Servant of God, Léonie Martin – Bearer of Hope with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Episode 5
In this episode, we hear of the “remarkable change” that Zélie has seen in her daughter now that the maid’s terrible behavior toward Léonie has been exposed. Their mother/daughter relationship has completely changed. The heart of Leonie has opened up to her mother and Zélie has the answer to her prayers…they are sharing a deeper, understanding bond of love.
As Léonie is absorbing her motherly love, Zélie sees her also absorbing more of God’s love and this is proving transformative for her daughter. But Zélie’s illness is progressing as well. She prays to God for a healing of her breast cancer, so that she might be able to care for her younger children, especially her poor Léonie, who needs her mother now more than ever before. She is greatly concerned, and asks “Who could help Léonie more than her own mother?” She turns to the Blessed Virgin Mary asking her to intercede with God for a miracle.
Zélie also ponders the reason why God would allow the bad treatment of her daughter by the maid to last so long. Fr. Gallagher reflects on that mystery, as well as the forgiveness given to Louise, the Martin’s maid, by both Zélie and Léonie, which didn’t excuse the horrible behavior, but showed a great degree of grace-filled compassion.
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.
Leonie's parents - Sts. Louis and Zélie Martin
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