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Beautiful book combines St. Thérèse’s wisdom with art of her time

Brand Magnificat

Montage Aleteia / Magnificat

Marzena Devoud - published on 03/28/23

This creative new volume will give you insights into St. Thérèse that you've never considered, even if you're one of her biggest fans. And if you want to share the Faith with an art lover, this is for you ...

“Looking at a work of art, the eye listens,” said Paul Claudel. Looking at a work of art that illustrates the spiritual testament of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, we could say that “the eye listens and the soul is elevated.” The beautiful book I Will Be Love, published by Magnificat, invites us to rediscover the “little way” of love lived and revealed by St. Thérèse of Lisieux, through works of art that bring it to light in an amazing way.

 “This art book offers a promenade through her writings. But for a real promenade, all the senses need to be present. Landscapes, faces, and allegories that speak to the soul and heart, far beyond words,” explains Bénédicte Delelis, co-author of the book, to Aleteia. “Hence the idea of accompanying the most beautiful texts of little Thérèse with more than 50 works by artists of her time: Berthe Morisot, Maurice Denis, George Desvallières, Cézanne, Monet… It’s as if they were deciphering the Carmelite’s thoughts by extending and sublimating them.”

With her freshness and her humor mixed with unfailing determination, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, a Carmelite nun who became a Doctor of the Church and whose 150th birthday we just celebrated this January 2, 2023, takes readers by the hand to lead them on her astonishing path of “spiritual childhood.”

This “little way” of love has led countless people throughout the world to convert and to live Jesus’ commandment: to love others as God loves us. Here are some elements of her spiritual journey taken from this beautiful book :

Tenderness 

Born on January 2, 1873, Thérèse was a tender and joyful child: “All my life, the Good Lord was pleased to surround me with love. My first memories are filled with smiles and the most tender caresses! … But although he had placed a lot of love close to me, he had also placed some in my little heart, creating it loving and sensitive.” (Manuscript A)

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Maurice Denis (1870-1943), The Child in the Door (1897), private collection

Absence

When she was four years old, Thérèse was devastated by the death of her mother, Zélie Martin, on August 29, 1877. “The day the Church blessed the mortal remains of our little mother in heaven, the good Lord wanted to give me another on earth. (…) I turned to you, Pauline, and as if the future had already torn its veil, I threw myself into your arms, crying out: ‘Well, it is Pauline who will be my mom!’” (Manuscript A)

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Harold Gilman (1876-1919), Interior (1907), Southampton City Art Gallery, UK

First Communion

It was a time of great joy when Thérèse received her First Holy Communion on May 8, 1884: “How sweet was Jesus’ first kiss to my soul!… It was a kiss of love. I felt loved and I also said: ‘I love you, I give myself to you forever.’”

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George Clausen (1852-1944), The Wreath of Flowers (1890), private collection

The Big Day

On Monday, April 9, 1888, Therese entered Carmel while the Community was celebrating the Annunciation: “On the morning of the great day, after having cast a last glance at Buissonnets, that graceful nest of my childhood which I was never to see again, I left on the arm of my beloved King to climb Mount Carmel…” (Manuscript A)

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George Desvallières (1861-1950), Saint Theresa and her father (1938), gouache, ink on paper, Rolin Museum, Autun, France

Love

In her correspondence, as in these letters written in July 1893, Thérèse shared with her sister Céline her way of loving Jesus: “Oh Celine! how easy it is to please Jesus, to delight his heart, you just have to love him without looking at yourself, without examining your faults too much…” (Letter to Celine, July 6, 1893) “…When I feel nothing, that I am unable to pray, to practice virtue, then it is time to look for small opportunities, nothings that give pleasure, more pleasure to Jesus than the empire of the world or even that the martyrdom suffered generously, for example a smile, a kind word, when I would like to say nothing or to look bored, etc., etc…” (Letter to Celine, July 7, 1893)

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Amédée Buffet (1869-1934), Saint Therese in the Carmelite Convent, Church of St. Joseph of the Carmelites, St. Therese Chapel, Paris, France

Looking page by page at the artists’ paintings accompanying the Carmelite nun’s writings, there is no doubt that “for those who embark on the little path of love according to Therese, there is a path to travel, there are stages to reach and to cross, crossings that, at times, little Therese herself calls a conversion,” writes the book’s co-author Pierre-Marie Dumont in the preface. Crossings that some artists have undertaken with their brushes guided by the hand of the little Thérèse…

Whether you’re more interested in the art or in the texts, this book has something that can inspire everyone!

Purchase here: I Will Be Love, published by Magnificat.

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Therese of Lisieux
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