Saints Zelie and Louis Martin, Pray for Us!

Saints Zelie and Louis Martin, Pray for Us! July 12, 2018

Today is the feast day of the first married couple to be canonized at the same time by the Catholic Church: Sts. Zelie and Louis Martin.

St. Zelie is one of my favorite saints. She was a mother to nine children, four of whom tragically died either in infancy or early childhod. Her words about the loss children echo in my own heart when I think of my own lost little ones:

In a letter to her sister-in-law who had lost an infant son, Zelie remembered: “When I closed the eyes of my dear little children and buried them, I felt sorrow through and through…People said to me, ‘It would have been better never to have had them.’ I couldn’t stand such language. My children were not lost forever; life is short and full of miseries, and we shall find our little ones again up above.”

She was also a working professional. Before her marriage, she learned the craft of lace-making, and she was so talented in her field that she started her own business. Her business grew to the point that her husband, who had been a watchmaker, elected to leave his own profession in order to join his wife’s! St. Zelie was an amazing example of a working mother:

That same year [1870] Louis sold his business to his nephew so that he could help Zélie with hers. He had already taken over the book-keeping and was now free to travel to obtain orders. Zélie had fifteen women working for her in their own homes and every Thursday they brought her the work they had done and received the cotton and their instructions for the next week. Zélie assembled the pieces that they brought to her. She often worked late into the night as she always gave time to her children when they needed it and she wrote many letters especially to her two eldest daughters when they were in boarding school.

Note that St. Zelie placed her elder daughters in boarding school, and she also gave over care of her youngest daughter to a nurse for the first 18 months of her life:

Due to Therese’s weak and frail condition at birth, she was taken care of by a nurse for her first year and a half. Because of this care, she became a lively, mischievous and self-confident child.

Given that all five of her surviving daughters eventually entered religious life, it doesn’t seem like they were much harmed by having a working mother or going to “daycare”!

Saints Zelie and Louis Martin, pray for us!

Image by Fraychero [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons


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