Pope canonises French couple

Vatican City, Oct 18 (IANS) Pope Francis on Sunday conducted the first canonisation of a married couple who were parents of 19th-century French saint Therese of Lisieux.

It is for the first time in the history of the Catholic church that a married couple was together proclaimed as saints, BBC reported.

Louis and Zelie Martin met in 1858 after he had failed to become a monk and she to become a nun. They married the same year and had nine children, four of whom died in infancy.

“The holy spouses Louis Martin and Marie-Zelie Guerin practised Christian service in the family, creating day by day an environment of faith and love which nurtured the vocations of their daughters, among whom was Saint Therese of the Child Jesus,” Pope Francis said at the ceremony in Vatican City’s St. Peter’s Square.

The Martins practised charity, visiting the sick and elderly and welcoming the occasional vagabond to their table. Zelie, a lace-maker, died of breast-cancer in 1877 aged 45.

Louis, a jeweller who outlived his wife and raised five of their children alone, died in 1894, aged 70, after two major strokes left him an invalid in the final years of his life.

Therese, who became a Discalced Carmelite nun at the age of 15, died of tuberculosis in 1897 at the age of 24.

Therese of Lisieux is widely venerated for the simplicity of her spiritual life.

Her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, has inspired generations of modern Catholics.

The canonisation ceremony also focused on how the church can better minister to modern families, including gay Catholics in same-sex unions, couples who cohabit and those who divorce and remarry.

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