How St. Therese’s Devotion to the Holy Face Began!
Three years before entering the Carmelites St. Theresa, together with her whole family, registered as members of the Arch confraternity of Reparation to the Holy Face at Tours, France. St. Theresa had such love for Sister Mary of St. Peter, through whom our Lord gave us this devotion, that she wore a relic of her hair, and carried her picture in her New Testament which she kept close to her heart.
Although St. Therese is known with the added title “of the Child Jesus”, it was on the day that she received the Habit that she herself added the title “and of the Holy Face”. It is known that it was her older sister, her “little Mother” Pauline (Mother Agnes of Jesus) who introduced St. Therese to this devotion. We read this in St. Therese’s own words in “Story Of A Soul”, page 152:
“The little flower transplanted to Mt. Carmel was to expand under the shadow of the cross. The tears and blood of Jesus were to be her dew, and her sun was His adorable Face veiled with tears. Until my coming to Carmel, I had never fathomed the depths of the treasures hidden in the Holy Face. It was through you, dear Mother (referring to her sister Pauline, now Mother Agnes of Jesus) that I learned to know these treasures. Just as formerly you had preceded us to Carmel, so also you were the first to enter deeply into the mysteries of love hidden in the Face of our Spouse. You called me and I understood. I understood what REAL GLORY was. He whose Kingdom is not of this world showed me that truth wisdom consists in “desiring to be unknown and counted as nothing,” in “placing one’s joy in the contempt of self.” Ah! I desired that, like the Face of Jesus, “my face be truly hidden, that no one on earth would know me.” (Isaias 53:3) I thirsted after suffering and I longed to be forgotten.”
While lying sick in the infirmary on August 5, 1897, with the picture of the Holy Face hung upon the curtains of her bed, St. Therese said to Mother Agnes:
“How well Our Lord did lower His eyes when He gave us His portrait! Since the eyes are the mirror of the soul, if we had seen His soul, we would have died from joy. Oh how much good that Holy Face has done in my life!”