Sts. Louis & Zélie
Feastday: July 12th
Patrons of: married couples, families, breast cancer, raising Christian children
The first parents of a saint to be beatified, they are the first spouses in the history of the Church to be
proposed for sainthood as a couple and the second to be beatified together.
Zélie and Louis are an inspiration to the families of today. Each owned a small business and worked hard
while raising a large family. In the 19th century this two-career couple faced the challenges we face in the
21st: finding good child care; achieving professional excellence; operating a profitable business; caring for
aging parents; educating a special-needs child; forming their children in the faith; finding time to pray and to
be active in their parish.
Devout Catholics, they saw Christ in the poor and worked for a just society. In 1877 Zélie died of breast
cancer, leaving Louis a single parent with five minor daughters to bring up. Later Louis was diagnosed with
cerebral arteriosclerosis and spent three years in a psychiatric hospital.
Like us, Louis and Zélie could not control their circumstances. Life came at them unexpectedly, just as it
comes at us. They could not prevent their tragedies: the Franco-Prussian war, when they had to house nine
German soldiers; the infant deaths of four of their nine children, one from abuse by a wet-nurse; their painful
diseases; Zélie's premature death. Nor could they escape their responsibilities as business owners, caregivers,
spouses, and parents. Their genius lay in how they accepted what happened to them: they accepted their own
powerlessness, that God might be all-powerful in their lives.
They taught the same radical openness to their youngest daughter, Thérese, now a doctor of the Church.
Zélie and Louis were not declared "blessed" because of Thérese. She became a saint because of them. They
created an environment that invited her to holiness, and she responded freely to the invitation they offered
They offer the same invitation to us.
We know many "married saints," but most canonized saints have not been married. In recognizing Louis and
Zélie as a blessed couple, the Church points to the mystery of the vocation of marriage, the way of life in
which most people are called to reach the common goal of all Christians: sainthood. Engaged unreservedly in
the responsibilities of daily life, Zélie and Louis became saints in the fabric of their marriage.
They epitomize the words of Pope John Paul II: "Heroism must become daily, and the daily must become
heroic." They are the heroes of the everyday.
Prayer to Louis & Zélie
You gave all glory to God
through your humble and patient work,
your commitment to the poor,
and your family life,
where reigned the happiness
of loving and being loved.
You lived your daily life concretely
through the joys and sorrows of your existence.
You love us as your own children,
with the heart of a father and the heart of a mother,
because you are the friends of God.
Listen to our prayer and our request
(state the request . . . )
and intercede for us with God the Father,
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
in the grace of the Holy Spirit.