St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Thérèse de Lisieux: St. Thérèse is known today because of her spiritual memoir, L’histoire d’une âme (“The Story of a Soul”), which she wrote upon the orders of two prioresses of her monastery. She began the work in 1895 as a memoir of her childhood, under orders from her sister Pauline, known in religion as Mother Agnes of Jesus. Mother Agnes gave the order after being prompted by their eldest sister, Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart. While Thérèse was on retreat in September 1896, she wrote the second part, a letter to Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart. In June 1897 Mother Agnes became aware of how sick Thérèse was; she immediately asked Mother Marie de Gonzague, who had succeeded her as prioress, to allow Thérèse to write another memoir with more details of her religious life. It was published posthumously, and was heavily edited by her sister Pauline. (Aside from considerations of style, Mother Marie de Gonzague had ordered Pauline to alter the first two sections of the manuscript to make them appear as if they were addressed to Mother Marie as well.) It became the religious best-seller of the 20th century. Since 1973, two centenary editions of Thérèse’s writings, including “Story of a Soul,” her letters, poems, prayers, and the plays she wrote for the monastery recreations have been published.