L - 1823-1894,
Z - 1831-1877
FEast: July 12th
Patrons of: married couples, families, breast cancer, entrepreneurs and small businesses, family businesses, working parents
Sts. Louis + Zelie
Louis was born into a military family in 1823. Sadly, none of his brothers or sisters survived past the age of 30, aside from him. He had wanted to enter the monastery due to his devotion to his faith, but he was denied the opportunity because he was unable to learn Latin. He then resigned to a job as a watchmaker, for which he had been trained.
Zelie was born in 1831, and was also deeply faithful, hoping to enter the religious life herself. She was turned away as well, however, because of health problems such as respiratory problems and headaches. She instead took up lacework and soon became very successful with her own small business.
The two met in 1858 and were married only 3 months later. Though they thought they'd remain celibate in their marriage, a spiritual director later counseled them that this was not exactly how marriage was supposed to work. The two then had nine children, with four tragically dying in infancy, one due to the abuse of a nurse.
Louis soon sold his watchmaking business and went into partnership with Zelie's lace business because she had grown so successful. In their free time, the family spent much time in nature (Louis loved the outdoors and animals), cared for their parents as they aged, and made a few pilgrimages to holy sites.
The family was to suffer even more tragedies, however, as the Franco-Prussian war began and they were forced to house soldiers in their home. Not long after, when their youngest daughter Therese was only 4, Zelie passed away from breast cancer.
The family was severely saddened by their loss, but Louis and Zelie had established such strong faith in their daughters that they all were able to carry on. Louis sold the business and moved to be closer to relatives, continuing to raise the girls on his own until three of them entered religious life.
Louis created a meditative space for himself in the attic as close to a monastic cell as he could, spending his days gardening, working, and enjoying life as best he could until 1889 when he had two strokes. He was hospitalized after that for three more years until he passed away, watched over by his daughters.
Their youngest daughter, Therese, later became a saint and Doctor of the Church as well.
Louis and Zelie were canonized together in 2015 as the first married couple canonized together.
Bless all the partners on this earth. May they always have the respect, love, curiosity, trust, and care for each other that you had. May they stick up for the other and enjoy the other’s company, weathering storms strongly and together for all their days. May they stay true to themselves and compromise only out of love. May they find joy together always.
Though their Era would have been a little too stuffy for this kind of portrait to ever have been taken of them, I really wanted an image of this inspiring married couple that showed them as playful, having a solid foundation of love and trust, and looking natural. Zelie takes the slightly bigger role in the image as well, symbolic of the huge impact she had on her whole family before her early death, and of her brave, entrepreneurial spirit.