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The Imitation of Christ
Thomas à Kempis

Story of a Soul

Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux - John Clarke

St. Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897) in her autobiography Story of a Soul (1996) translated by John Clarke, taught souls "the little way" of trust and absolute surrender to God.  Her first 15 years of her life was spent as a devout Catholic and for nine years lived a cloistered life as a Carmalite nun.  She wrote out her story of her brief life in ink with no thought that it would ever be published.  On Good Friday April 13,1896, she suffered her first hemoptysis (coughing up blood due to a lung hemorrhage).

 

The facsimile edition of her manuscript was difficult to read because of capitalization, underlined words, size, position of slant letters with occasional corrections.  Many students of hers are still able to locate texts in the original manuscript.  But the translated version offered clear themes of love, "the little way," an abandonment to God's mercy and her mission in the church.  She saw that the way of spiritual childhood was the path which led to eternal life.

 

In fits and starts St. Therese wrote in her spare time while she was ill.  The manuscript first published in 1898 in a highly edited version was praised by its readers.  It became a spiritual classic, read by millions and was translated from French into many languages.  It was a best seller for over 20 years.  Story of a Soul was originally the collection of three different manuscripts addressed to three different persons in 1895, 1896 and 1897.

 

St. Therese's legacy to the world was her personal message to and about being like "little ones."  Her teaching was out of human experience.  By so doing, she ascended to the summit of heroic virtue of what she described as "my vocation is love."  She believed that we must be like little children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  She viewed God as the keeper of "little ones."

 

Pope Benedict XV and Pius X1 endorsed her beliefs during the process of beatification and canonization.  They hoped her teachings would be brought to the attention of the world.  St. Therese who was considered the greatest saint of modern times frequently meditated on the Gospels and the Old testament.  Her work has remained a source of deep religious inspiration and many think that it came about through Divine Providence.  The centennial celebration of her death was in 1996-1997.  Story of a Soul's translator John Clarke was a devotee to this "Little Flower."