Blessed Zelie Martin’s former maid Louise Marais wrote of Zelie several years after Zelie’s death, “She had a great many trials during her life, and she accepted them all with resignation. And how eager she was to sacrifice herself constantly!” (The Mother of the Little Flower by Celine Martin, TAN Books)
Eternal Love granted Blessed Zelie Martin one last opportunity to sacrifice herself to Him with complete loving abandon, as she was so accustomed to doing. In July of 1877, a cancerous tumor which had been long developing in her breast finally manifested itself with great inflammation and discomfort. In the weeks to follow, it would spread, sending violent pains throughout her body. In the final days, only short snatches of sleep could provide Zelie with any relief. The slightest noise would wake her up, sending horrible cries throughout the house. In the end, she was too weak even to moan in pain.
Throughout the terrible suffering, Zelie never lost trust in the loving providence of God. In times of anguish she would cry out, “Oh! Thou Who hast created me, have mercy on me!”
On August 28, 1877 at age 45, Zelie finally succumbed to the illness, going on to her heavenly reward, at last reunited her four little ones lost in infancy. Her dear husband Louis and five other daughters were tremendously grieved, though consoled in grace knowing that their saintly wife and mother was finally with He whom she had so longed for and loved.
Celine writes of her mother, “In a word, always active, always devoted, constantly smiling, our mother never appeared to be doing anything extraordinary, but with remarkable simplicity and humility, she tirelessly spent herself for others, and lived always for the good God.
“In listening to these eulogies,” Celine continues, “and recalling what I had seen myself, I have often said to myself, that our Therese inherited those fundamental dispositions which were to make her: THE APOSTLE OF THE LITTLE WAY.”
“I loved my mother’s gentle smile,
Her thoughtful glance that said, the while:
‘Eternity doth me, from you, beguile.
I go to Heaven, my God, to be with Thee.’
‘I go to find, in realms above,
My angel-band in Mary’s love.
The children whom I leave below. Ah prove
Jesus, to them, their guide and stay, always!’”
-St. Therese of the Child Jesus
Dear Blessed Zelie, pray for us mothers today and always!
Copyright 2011 Meg Matenaer
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