Pope St. Pius X wrote in June 1914, two months before his death, that “it is very expedient that this cause (for Therese) for beatification be investigated as quickly as possible”. (The Story of A Life, p. 211)
Beatification is the penultimate step before canonization for a deceased person of heroic virtue. Someone who is beatified by the Church receives the title of Blessed and is recognized as having entered into heaven and has the capacity to intercede for those who pray to him/her. Two of the last four deceased popes currently carry the title of Blessed – Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II. Of course it is possible that Blessed Pope John Paul II could be canonized a saint by the end of this year!
After Therese of Lisieux died in 1897, a ‘storm of glory’ broke out where hundreds of testimonies and miracles were reported. The Vatican was forced to speed up the canonization process for Therese because the clamor of the people on her behalf was so loud. During World War I so many French and German soldiers prayed to Therese from the trenches that 5 volumes would have been required to tell all the stories!
Two out of the hundreds of miracles attributed to Therese were investigated. On April 29, 1923, 90 years ago today, Pope Pius XI beatified Therese of the Child Jesus in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and called her the ‘star of his pontificate’. (The Story of A Life, p. 211)
Therese was formally canonized by the same Holy Father only two years later on May 17, 1925 and has been known to the world ever since as St. Therese of the Child Jesus, St. Therese of Lisieux, or the Little Flower.
Today is also the Feast Day of St. Catherine of Siena, a 14th Century saint and mystic. She is one of only four women to be declared a Doctor of the Church along with St. Teresa of Avila, St. Hildegard of Bingen, and, of course, our little Therese.