Our Lady of the Smile

The statue of Our Lady of the Smile is a very special statue in the life of St. Theresa of Lisieux. It is almost three feet high and is made of plaster, which is covered by a special varnish that makes it look more like marble. It first came to the Martin family when Louis Martin, St. Theresa’s father, had completed his studies as a watchmaker, in Paris. After he returned to Alençon, he opened up a jewellery and watch shop, and a kind woman gave him the statue of Our Lady. Mr. Martin put the statue outdoors in his garden, where flowers and shrubs were growing. And there he would often spend his spare time praying and doing spiritual reading.
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After he got married to Zélie, the statue was brought indoors and was given a place of honour. They would say their morning and evening prayers, and others prayers before the statue. When their children were old enough, they too, prayed before this statue of Our Lady. The children loved this statue and would often smother it with kisses. They loved to place flowers and candles in front of the statue of Our Lady. In May, they would go out and gather flowers in the country, and then decorate Our Lady’s shrine with white hawthorn blossoms, and other flowers and greens. Little Theresa was delighted at this, and she would clap her hands for joy, as she looked at Our Lady’s shrine. Our Lady worked her first miracle through this statue when Mrs. Martin had asked for a special favour. Her daughter, Marie Helene, had died when she was only five and a half years old. But before the girl had died, she had told her mother a little lie. Mrs. Martin had forgotten to get a priest to hear Marie Helene’s confession and give her the Last Sacraments. So she thought that now, Marie Helene would be suffering in Purgatory, all because she forgot to call for a priest. She begged God to give her a sign that her little girl was out of Purgatory and one day, while she was praying before the statue of Our Lady, she heard a voice whisper in her ear, “She is beside me in Heaven!” This consoled Mrs. Martin very much; as she now believed that her little girl was in Heaven. Mrs. Martin died of cancer when Theresa was only four years old. During her life she had said that no one would know all that she owed to Our Lady, for the favours she had received. And she had asked that the statue should always remain in the family. So, after the death of Mrs. Martin, Mr. Martin and his five girls moved to Lisieux, and with them, they took the beautiful statue of Our Lady. It was then given a place of honour in the house, and the family said their prayers and devotions before the statue, just as they had done in Alençon. St. Theresa was the youngest girl, and having no mother, she asked Pauline to become her “mother.” But this did not last all that long, because when she was about nine years old, Pauline left home and became a Carmelite Nun. This made Theresa very unhappy and towards the end of that year, she became terribly ill.
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This sickness was the work of the devil and Theresa suffered greatly from severe headaches, nervousness and weird apparitions. She was terrified by everything. The bed seemed to be surrounded by steep cliffs; some nails in the bedroom wall appeared to be like burned fingers, and her father’s hat suddenly turned into a terrible shape. Another time it happened that Theresa was not able to open her eyes for a period of time! During her illness, Theresa occupied the room with the statue of Our Lady, and it stood beside her bed. When her pains were less serious, she would weave garlands of daisies and forget-me-nots for Our Lady. She would often look at the statue and pray that Heaven would send her a cure. One day in the month of May, when she was very much worse, her father came into her room. He was heartbroken over the condition of poor Theresa. He gave his daughter Marie, some money, and told her to write to Paris for a novena of Masses, to be said at the shrine of Our Lady of Victories, to obtain the cure of his dear little girl.
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During the novena, on Sunday May 13, 1883, Theresa became so ill that she did not recognize her sisters. Marie felt sure that little Theresa was dying, and throwing herself on her knees before their beloved statue of Our Lady, she begged Our Lady to cure Theresa. Leonie and Celine joined in with their prayers, as well, begging the Blessed Virgin Mary to have pity on their poor, sick, little sister.Suddenly the statue seemed to come alive—and Our Lady appeared to little Theresa. Our Lady’s face glowed with a glorious beauty, but it was her wonderful smile, which filled the girl with joy. Our Lady’s smile was like a warm ray of sunshine. Two large tears of joy rolled down Theresa’s cheeks, and she thought, “Ah! The Blessed Virgin smiled at me, how happy I am.”
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During this time, Marie saw her sister Theresa, as in an ecstasy of love, and she was not looking at the statue, but at the Blessed Virgin Mary herself! The vision seemed to last about four or five minutes and during this time, little Theresa was cured; all her pains and weariness had disappeared. Later, when Marie was alone with Theresa, she asked her why she had just shed some tears. Theresa didn’t want to tell her secret, but when she saw that Marie had guessed that Our Lady had appeared to her, she said, “I cried because Our Lady had disappeared.”
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When Theresa was fifteen years old, she joined the Carmelite Nuns in Lisieux. Later, when she was about twenty-two years old, she got tuberculosis of the lungs. After a time, she started coughing up blood, and was moved from her cell to the infirmary for the sick. Near her bed was placed the miraculous statue of Our Lady of the Smile, which years before, had smiled on her when she had been so sick.
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Theresa suffered from tuberculosis for eighteen months, and on September 30, 1897, just as she was about to die, she raised her head and gazed at a point above the miraculous statue. Then after a few minutes, in an ecstasy of love, she fell back on her pillows and died.
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Following St. Theresa’s death, the Martin house in Lisieux was bought by the Carmelites, and turned into a sanctuary for pilgrims. The room of the apparition was changed into a chapel, and an altar was placed where Theresa’s bed had been. Later, a Trappist monk made a copy of the miraculous statue of Our Lady of the Smile, and it was placed in the room of the apparition. And the real miraculous statue was placed at the shrine of St. Theresa of Lisieux, where it now overlooks the wax figure of her. It was truly a blessing for St. Theresa to see Our Lady. But more important than that, it is truly a blessing that St. Theresa loved Our Lady. And that is one thing that we can all do, we can give Our Lady as much love as possible, for she deserves this love, because she is our wonderful Heavenly Mother. And we can never love her too much, because all the love we give to Mary, she turns around and gives it to her Son, Jesus. So love Mary with all your heart, and one day, you too, will see the Blessed Virgin Mary—yes, you will see her in Heaven, if you love her all that you possibly can, while you are on this earth.

PRAYER TO OUR LADY OF SMILES

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O Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother who, through a visible smile, did once console and cure Thy privileged child, Saint Theresa of the Infant Jesus, we beseech Thee, console us also in the sorrows of this life; detach our hearts from the world. Grant us health both of soul and body, strengthen our hope, obtain for us the favor of etenally enjoying in Heaven Thy gracious Motherly Smile. Amen.
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O Virgin of the smile, convert sinners, heal the sick, and assist the dying.
Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus, pray for us.
Imprimatur: (200 jours d’indulgence) Paul-Emile Cardinal Léger, Arch. de Montréal, 7 novembre 1960. – Litho Sainit-Gabriel, Montréal, Canada

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PRAYER TO OUR LADY OF SMILES FOR A SPECIAL INTENTION

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Gentle Mary, My Mother, I place before Thee the worries, hurts and hopes of my heart. They shrink my soul and I feel heavy and hopeless. Darkness closes in around me.I reach out to Thee, bright Lady of Hope. Smile on me. Smile on my loved ones and the intentions I place before Thee.
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(Mention your intentions here…)
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Thine tender smile works miracles and heals, as Thou did with St. Thérèse, the Little Flower.
Thou are my true Mother.
Thou show the tender Mercy of God.
Smile on me, Blessed Mother and all will be well. Amen.

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