Louis and Zelie Martin each felt a call to consecrated religious life during their youth, however they found themselves wholeheartedly entering into the marriage vocation. Their zeal for consecrated life however never left them, and this desire to unite themselves more deeply with the life of the Church was realised through the Secular Franciscan Order. As consecrated lay Franciscans they dedicated their lives to God through marriage and family life.
In true Franciscan spirit the Martins were naturally inclined to charity towards their neighbour, by inviting the poor to dine in their family home, generously donating to needy families, and defending the oppressed. They also taught their own daughters to treat the poor and underprivileged as equals. Each daughter in turn joined their parents in helping the sick and needy.
The deeply Christian life of the Martin parents saw them attend daily Mass at 5:30am, frequent confession, and participate in nocturnal Adoration. They recognised the sacredness of our Lord’s day and closed their business on Sundays.
Both Louis and Zelie were raised in strong religious households which shaped the way for the upbringing of their own children. In total they gave birth to nine children, however four died in infancy. From the earliest of age Zelie taught her children each morning to offer their hearts to the Lord, and to accept each difficulty to please Jesus. Their family home was the first ‘school’ of Christian life.
Louis and Zelie Martin were exemplary examples of the Secular Franciscan vocation. As true spiritual children of Saint Francis of Assisi, their example of living the gospel life certainly shaped the path for their five daughters who all entered the convent as consecrated nuns, including their most famous saintly daughter – St Therese of the Child Jesus.
Louis and Zelie Martin were beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in 2008 and canonized by Pope Francis in 2015. They were the first married couple in the history of the Church to be canonised together. Their feast day is July 12, though a liturgical celebration in their honour is not included in the current General Roman Calendar.
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