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Gift from heaven? Pope receives unexpected visit from St. Therese of Lisieux

Jan 15, 2015

Catholic News Agency/EWTN News — During his flight to the Philippines, Pope Francis thanked a French journalist who gave him an image of St. Therese, saying that instead of giving the usual rose when he asked for help, St. Therese came to him herself.

“I have the habit of, when I don’t know how things will go, to ask of St. Therese the little child, St. Therese of Jesus, to ask her if she takes a problem in hand, some thing, that she send me a rose,” the pope told journalists during his Jan. 15 in-flight press conference from Sri Lanka to the Philippines.

Pope Francis receives image
Alan Holdren/CNA
Pope Francis receives an image of St. Therese of Lisieux from journalist aboard papal plane.

“I asked also for this trip that she’d take it in hand and that she would send me a rose. But instead of a rose she came herself to greet me.”

The image of the St. Therese, which was given to the pope by Paris Match’s journalist Caroline Pigozzi, was a bas-relief, or carving, that appeared to be in silver.

After the pope received the framed image, he thanked Pigozzi for the gift. “Thanks to Caroline and thanks to little Therese and to [all of] you,” he said.

Born in Alençon, France, in 1873, St. Therese is frequently referred to as “The Little Flower” or “Therese of the Child Jesus.”

A Carmelite nun, St. Therese entered her convent at the age of 15 and dedicated herself to living a simple life of holiness, doing all things with love and childlike trust in God.

Although Therese struggled with life in the convent, she committed herself to making the effort to be charitable to everyone, especially those she didn’t like.

The saint performed small acts of charity throughout each day and made little sacrifices regardless of how unimportant they seemed. These acts helped her come to a deeper understanding of her vocation.

She died of tuberculosis at the age of 24 and was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II in 1997 — 100 years after her death. She was the third woman ever to receive title, following in the steps of St. Catherine of Siena and St. Teresa of Avila.

Since her death, millions have been inspired by St. Therese’s “little way” of loving God and neighbor.

Many miracles have been attributed to her intercession, which coincides with the prediction she made during her earthly life that “my Heaven will be spent doing good on Earth.”

In one of her writings, the saint said, “You know well enough that Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, but at the love with which we do them.”