Pope Francis is to conduct the first ever canonisation of a married couple in a ceremony in Saint Peter’s Square. Louis and Zelie Martin, who lived in France in the 19th Century, were the parents of the much venerated Saint Theresa of Lisieux. The couple had nine children, four of whom died in infancy. The remaining five, all girls, became nuns.
The youngest, Therese, died of tuberculosis aged 24 in 1897 and was canonised in 1925. The BBC’s David Willey in Rome says Theresa of Lisieux is widely venerated for the simplicity of her spiritual life. Her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, has inspired generations of modern Catholics, he adds.
The Vatican’s Cardinal Angelo Amato, speaking in July, said the canonisation gave testimony to the couple’s “extraordinary witness of conjugal and familial spirituality”. It will be one of the highlights of the meeting of cardinals and bishops currently going on at the Vatican.
It is focusing on how the church can better minister to modern families, including gay Catholics in same-sex unions, couples who cohabit and those who divorce and remarry.