Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Oh Parama Divya Kaarunyame: Song & Track

Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on December 23, 2013

Oh Parama Divya Karunyame: Christian Devotional Song

Singer: Kester

Lyrics: Fr Thomas Edayal MCBS

Album: Athmavin Bhojanam

Oh Parama Divya Karunyame: Track – Christian Devotional Song

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Pope Francis: At Christmas we Encounter the Lord

Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on December 10, 2013

Pope Francis: At Christmas we Encounter the Lord

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Christmas Gifts for Child Jesus, 25 days Planner (Malayalam)

Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on November 29, 2013

Christmas Gifts for Child Jesus

Christmas Gifts for Child Jesus

25 days Planner in preparation to Christmas

Intentions and Virtues to Observe (All in Malayalam)

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Christmas Homily, Christmas Message

Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on December 24, 2012

Special Christmas Homily by Shobin Kudiyiruppil MCBS

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Christmas Songs

Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on December 20, 2012

Collection of Christmas Songs available here

Manju Thulli by Fr Mathews Payyapally (New)

Other Collections

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Jingle Bells

Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on November 19, 2012

Jingle Bells… Jingle Bells – Christmas Carol Song

Jingle Bells… in Mlayalam

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Christmas

Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on November 19, 2012

Nativity scene at Temple Square SLC

Nativity scene at Temple Square SLC (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Christmas
Christmas
A depiction of the Nativity with a Christmas tree backdrop.
Also called Noel
Nativity
Yule
Xmas
Observed by Christians
Many non-Christians[1]
Type Christian, cultural
Significance Traditional birthday of Jesus
Date December 25 (alternatively, January 6, 7 or 19)[2][3][4] (see below)
Observances Church services, gift giving, family and other social gatherings, symbolic decorating
Related to Christmastide, Christmas Eve, Advent, Annunciation, Epiphany, Baptism of the Lord, Yule

Christmas (Old English: Crīstesmæsse, meaning “Christ‘s Mass“) is an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ[5][6] and a widely observed holiday, celebrated generally on December 25[2][3][4] by billions of people around the world. A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it closes the Advent season and initiates the twelve days of Christmastide.[7] Christmas is a civil holiday in many of the world’s nations,[8][9][10] is celebrated by an increasing number of non-Christians,[1][11][12] and is an integral part of the Christmas and holiday season.

The precise year of Jesus’ birth, which some historians place between 7 and 2 BC, is unknown.[13][14] By the early-to-mid 4th century, the Western Christian Church had placed Christmas on December 25,[15] a date later adopted in the East.[16][17] The date of Christmas may have initially been chosen to correspond with the day exactly nine months after early Christians believed Jesus to have been conceived,[18] as well as the date of the southern solstice (i.e., the Roman winter solstice), with a sun connection being possible because Christians consider Jesus to be the “Sun of righteousness” prophesied in Malachi 4:2.[18][19][20][21][22]

The original date of the celebration in Eastern Christianity was January 6, in connection with Epiphany, and that is still the date of the celebration for the Armenian Apostolic Church and in Armenia, where it is a public holiday. As of 2012, there is a difference of 13 days between the modern Gregorian calendar and the older Julian calendar. Those who continue to use the Julian calendar or its equivalents thus celebrate December 25 and January 6 on what for the majority of the world is January 7 and January 19. For this reason, Ethiopia, Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, the Republic of Macedonia, and the Republic of Moldova celebrate Christmas on what in the Gregorian calendar is January 7; all the Greek Orthodox Churches celebrate Christmas on December 25.

The popular celebratory customs associated in various countries with Christmas have a mix of pre-Christian, Christian and secular themes and origins.[23] Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift giving, Christmas music and caroling, an exchange of Christmas cards, church celebrations, a special meal, and the display of various Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees, Christmas lights, nativity scenes, garlands, wreaths, mistletoe, and holly. In addition, several closely related and often interchangeable figures, known as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas and Christkind, are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season and have their own body of traditions and lore.[24] Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity among both Christians and non-Christians, the holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses. The economic impact of Christmas is a factor that has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of the world.

Contents

Name

Etymology

The word “Christmas” originated as a compound meaning “Christ‘s Mass“. It is derived from the Middle English Cristemasse, which is from Old English Crīstesmæsse, a phrase first recorded in 1038.[6] Crīst (genitive Crīstes) is from Greek Khrīstos (Χριστός), a translation of Hebrew Māšîaḥ (מָשִׁיחַ), “Messiah“; and mæsse is from Latin missa, the celebration of the Eucharist. The form “Christenmas” was also historically used, but is now considered archaic and dialectal;[25] it derives from Middle English Cristenmasse, literally “Christian mass”.[26]Xmas” is an abbreviation of Christmas found particularly in print, based on the initial letter chi (Χ) in Greek Khrīstos (Χριστός), “Christ”, though numerous style guides discourage its use;[27] it has precedent in Middle English Χρ̄es masse (where “Χρ̄” is an abbreviation for Χριστός).[26]

Other names

In addition to “Christmas”, the holiday has been known by various other names throughout its history. The Anglo-Saxons referred to the feast as midwinter, “midwinter“,[28][29] or, more rarely, as Nātiuiteð (from Latin nātīvitās below).[28][30]Nativity“, meaning “birth”, is from Latin nātīvitās.[31] In Old English, Gēola (“Yule“) referred to the period corresponding to January and December;[32] the cognate Old Norse Jól was later the name of a pagan Scandinavian holiday which merged with Christmas around 1000.[28] “Noel” (or “Nowell”) entered English in the late 14th century and is from the Old French noël or naël, itself ultimately from the Latin nātālis (diēs), “(day) of birth”.[33]

Celebration

Further information: Christmas worldwide

Map of 39 countries where Christmas is not a public holiday. It is recognized in all countries colored gray.

Christmas Day is celebrated as a major festival and public holiday in countries around the world, including many whose populations are mostly non-Christian. In some non-Christian countries, periods of former colonial rule introduced the celebration (e.g. Hong Kong); in others, Christian minorities or foreign cultural influences have led populations to observe the holiday. Countries such as Japan, where Christmas is popular despite there being only a small number of Christians, have adopted many of the secular aspects of Christmas, such as gift-giving, decorations and Christmas trees.

Countries in which Christmas is not a formal public holiday include China, (excepting Hong Kong and Macao), Japan, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Thailand, Nepal, Iran, Turkey and North Korea. Christmas celebrations around the world can vary markedly in form, reflecting differing cultural and national traditions.

Among countries with a strong Christian tradition, a variety of Christmas celebrations have developed that incorporate regional and local cultures. For Christians, participating in a religious service plays an important part in the recognition of the season. Christmas, along with Easter, is the period of highest annual church attendance.

In Catholic countries, people hold religious processions or parades in the days preceding Christmas. In other countries, secular processions or parades featuring Santa Claus and other seasonal figures are often held. Family reunions and the exchange of gifts are a widespread feature of the season. Gift giving takes place on Christmas Day in most countries. Others practice gift giving on December 6, Saint Nicholas Day, and January 6, Epiphany.

Commemorating Jesus’ birth

Anbetung der Hirten (Adoration of the Shepherds) (c. 1500–10), by Italian painter Giorgio da Castelfranco

Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary as a fulfillment of the Old Testament‘s Messianic prophecy.[34] The Bible contains two accounts which describe the events surrounding Jesus’ birth. Depending on one’s perspective, these accounts either differ from each other or tell two versions of the same story.[35][36][37][38] These biblical accounts are found in the Gospel of Matthew, namely Matthew 1:18, and the Gospel of Luke, specifically Luke 1:26 and 2:40. According to these accounts, Jesus was born to Mary, assisted by her husband Joseph, in the city of Bethlehem.

On Christmas Day, the Christ Candle in the center of the Advent wreath is traditionally lit in many church services.

According to popular tradition, the birth took place in a stable, surrounded by farm animals. A manger (that is, a feeding trough) is mentioned in Luke 2:7, where it states Mary “wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (KJV); and “She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them” (NIV). Shepherds from the fields surrounding Bethlehem were told of the birth by an angel, and were the first to see the child.[39] Popular tradition also holds that three kings or wise men (named Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar) visited the infant Jesus in the manger, though this does not strictly follow the Biblical account. The Gospel of Matthew instead describes a visit by an unspecified number of magi, or astrologers, sometime after Jesus was born while the family was living in a house (Matthew 2:11), who brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the young child Jesus. The visitors were said to be following a mysterious star, commonly known as the Star of Bethlehem, believing it to announce the birth of a king of the Jews.[40] The commemoration of this visit, the Feast of Epiphany celebrated on January 6, is the formal end of the Christmas season in some churches.

Christians celebrate Christmas in various ways. In addition to this day being one of the most important and popular for the attendance of church services, there are other devotions and popular traditions. In some Christian denominations, children re-enact the events of the Nativity with animals to portray the event with more realism or sing carols that reference the event. Some Christians also display a small re-creation of the Nativity, known as a Nativity scene or crèche, in their homes, using figurines to portray the key characters of the event. Prior to Christmas Day, the Eastern Orthodox Church practices the 40-day Nativity Fast in anticipation of the birth of Jesus, while much of Western Christianity celebrates four weeks of Advent. The final preparations for Christmas are made on Christmas Eve, and many families’ major observation of Christmas actually falls in the evening of this day.

A long artistic tradition has grown of producing painted depictions of the nativity in art. Nativity scenes are traditionally set in a stable with livestock and include Mary, Joseph, the infant Jesus in the manger, the three wise men, the shepherds and their sheep, the angels, and the Star of Bethlehem.[41]

Decorations

Main article: Christmas decoration

Clifton Mill in Clifton, Ohio is the site of this Christmas display with over 3.5 million lights.

Saint Anselm College decorates with a more traditional display

The practice of putting up special decorations at Christmas has a long history. In the 15th century, it was recorded that in London it was the custom at Christmas for every house and all the parish churches to be “decked with holm, ivy, bays, and whatsoever the season of the year afforded to be green”.[42] The heart-shaped leaves of ivy were said to symbolize the coming to earth of Jesus, while holly was seen as protection against pagans and witches, its thorns and red berries held to represent the Crown of Thorns worn by Jesus at the crucifixion and the blood he shed.[43][44]

Nativity scenes are known from 10th-century Rome. They were popularised by Saint Francis of Asissi from 1223, quickly spreading across Europe.[45] Different types of decorations developed across the Christian world, dependent on local tradition and available resources. The first commercially produced decorations appeared in Germany in the 1860s, inspired by paper chains made by children.[46] In countries where a representation of the Nativity Scene is very popular, people are encouraged to compete and create the most original or realistic ones. Within some families, the pieces used to make the representation are considered a valuable family heirloom.

The traditional colors of Christmas are green and red.[47] White, silver and gold are also popular. Red symbolizes the blood of Jesus, which was shed in his crucifixion, while green symbolizes eternal life, and in particular the evergreen tree, which does not lose its leaves in the winter.[44][47]

The famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree in New York City.

The Christmas tree is considered by some as Christianisation of pagan tradition and ritual surrounding the Winter Solstice, which included the use of evergreen boughs, and an adaptation of pagan tree worship;[48] according to eighth-century biographer Æddi Stephanus, Saint Boniface (634–709), who was a missionary in Germany, took an axe to an oak tree dedicated to Thor and pointed out a fir tree, which he stated was a more fitting object of reverence because it pointed to heaven and it had a triangular shape, which he said was symbolic of the Trinity.[49] The English language phrase “Christmas tree” is first recorded in 1835[50] and represents an importation from the German language. The modern Christmas tree tradition is believed to have begun in Germany in the 18th century[48] though many argue that Martin Luther began the tradition in the 16th century.[51][52]

From Germany the custom was introduced to Britain, first via Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, and then more successfully by Prince Albert during the reign of Queen Victoria. By 1841 the Christmas tree had become even more widespread throughout Britain.[53] By the 1870s, people in the United States had adopted the custom of putting up a Christmas tree.[54] Christmas trees may be decorated with lights and ornaments.

Since the 19th century, the poinsettia, a native plant from Mexico, has been associated with Christmas. Other popular holiday plants include holly, mistletoe, red amaryllis, and Christmas cactus. Along with a Christmas tree, the interior of a home may be decorated with these plants, along with garlands and evergreen foliage. The display of Christmas villages has also become a tradition in many homes during this season. The outside of houses may be decorated with lights and sometimes with illuminated sleighs, snowmen, and other Christmas figures.

Other traditional decorations include bells, candles, candy canes, stockings, wreaths, and angels. Both the displaying of wreaths and candles in each window are a more traditional Christmas display. The concentric assortment of leaves, usually from an evergreen, make up Christmas wreaths and are designed to prepare Christians for the Advent season. Candles in each window are meant to demonstrate the fact that Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the ultimate light of the world.[55] Both of these antiquated, more subdued, Christmas displays are seen in the image to the right of Saint Anselm College.

Christmas lights and banners may be hung along streets, music played from speakers, and Christmas trees placed in prominent places.[56] It is common in many parts of the world for town squares and consumer shopping areas to sponsor and display decorations. Rolls of brightly colored paper with secular or religious Christmas motifs are manufactured for the purpose of wrapping gifts. In some countries, Christmas decorations are traditionally taken down on Twelfth Night, the evening of January 5.

Music and carols

Main article: Christmas music

Christmas carolers in Jersey

The earliest extant specifically Christmas hymns appear in 4th century Rome. Latin hymns such as Veni redemptor gentium, written by Ambrose, Archbishop of Milan, were austere statements of the theological doctrine of the Incarnation in opposition to Arianism. Corde natus ex Parentis (Of the Father’s love begotten) by the Spanish poet Prudentius (d. 413) is still sung in some churches today.[57]

In the 9th and 10th centuries, the Christmas “Sequence” or “Prose” was introduced in North European monasteries, developing under Bernard of Clairvaux into a sequence of rhymed stanzas. In the 12th century the Parisian monk Adam of St. Victor began to derive music from popular songs, introducing something closer to the traditional Christmas carol.

By the 13th century, in France, Germany, and particularly, Italy, under the influence of Francis of Asissi, a strong tradition of popular Christmas songs in the native language developed.[58] Christmas carols in English first appear in a 1426 work of John Awdlay, a Shropshire chaplain, who lists twenty-five “caroles of Cristemas”, probably sung by groups of wassailers, who went from house to house.[59]

The songs we know specifically as carols were originally communal folk songs sung during celebrations such as “harvest tide” as well as Christmas. It was only later that carols began to be sung in church. Traditionally, carols have often been based on medieval chord patterns, and it is this that gives them their uniquely characteristic musical sound. Some carols like Personent hodie, “Good King Wenceslas“, and “The Holly and the Ivy” can be traced directly back to the Middle Ages. They are among the oldest musical compositions still regularly sung. Adeste Fidelis (O Come all ye faithful) appears in its current form in the mid-18th century, although the words may have originated in the 13th century.

Child singers in Bucharest, 1841

Singing of carols initially suffered a decline in popularity after the Protestant Reformation in northern Europe, although some Reformers, like Martin Luther, wrote carols and encouraged their use in worship. Carols largely survived in rural communities until the revival of interest in popular songs in the 19th century. The 18th century English reformer Charles Wesley understood the importance of music to worship. In addition to setting many psalms to melodies, which were influential in the Great Awakening in the United States, he wrote texts for at least three Christmas carols. The best known was originally entitled “Hark! How All the Welkin Rings”, later renamed “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing“.[60]

Felix Mendelssohn wrote a melody adapted to fit Wesley’s words. In Austria in 1818 Mohr and Gruber made a major addition to the genre when they composed “Silent Night” for the St. Nicholas Church, Oberndorf. William B. SandysChristmas Carols Ancient and Modern (1833) contained the first appearance in print of many now-classic English carols, and contributed to the mid-Victorian revival of the festival.[61]

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Jingle Bells, 19th century (instrumental)

Completely secular Christmas seasonal songs emerged in the late 18th century. “Deck The Halls” dates from 1784, and the American “Jingle Bells” was copyrighted in 1857. In the 19th and 20th century, African American spirituals and songs about Christmas, based in their tradition of spirituals, became more widely known. An increasing number of seasonal holidays songs were commercially produced in the 20th century, including jazz and blues variations. In addition, there was a revival of interest in early music, from groups singing folk music, such as The Revels, to performers of early medieval and classical music.

Traditional cuisine

Further information: Christmas dinner

Christmas pudding cooked on Stir-up Sunday, the Sunday before the beginning of the Advent season.

A special Christmas family meal is traditionally an important part of the holiday’s celebration, and the food that is served varies greatly from country to country. Some regions, such as Sicily, have special meals for Christmas Eve, when 12 kinds of fish are served. In England and countries influenced by its traditions, a standard Christmas meal includes turkey or goose, meat, gravy, potatoes, vegetables, sometimes bread and cider. Special desserts are also prepared, such as Christmas pudding, mince pies and fruit cake.[62][63]

In Poland and other parts of eastern Europe and Scandinavia, fish often is used for the traditional main course, but richer meat such as lamb is increasingly served. In Germany, France and Austria, goose and pork are favored. Beef, ham and chicken in various recipes are popular throughout the world. The Maltese traditionally serve Imbuljuta tal-Qastan,[64] a chocolate and chestnuts beverage, after Midnight Mass and throughout the Christmas season. Slovaks prepare the traditional Christmas bread potica, bûche de Noël in France, panettone in Italy, and elaborate tarts and cakes. The eating of sweets and chocolates has become popular worldwide, and sweeter Christmas delicacies include the German stollen, marzipan cake or candy, and Jamaican rum fruit cake. As one of the few fruits traditionally available to northern countries in winter, oranges have been long associated with special Christmas foods.

Cards

Main article: Christmas card

Christmas cards with angels, Scandinavian “nisser”, Father Christmas, snow men and hearts.

Christmas cards are illustrated messages of greeting exchanged between friends and family members during the weeks preceding Christmas Day. The traditional greeting reads “wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year”, much like that of the first commercial Christmas card, produced by Sir Henry Cole in London in 1843.[65] The custom of sending them has become popular among a wide cross-section of people with the emergence of the modern trend towards exchanging E-cards.

Christmas cards are purchased in considerable quantities, and feature artwork, commercially designed and relevant to the season. The content of the design might relate directly to the Christmas narrative with depictions of the Nativity of Jesus, or Christian symbols such as the Star of Bethlehem, or a white dove which can represent both the Holy Spirit and Peace on Earth. Other Christmas cards are more secular and can depict Christmas traditions, mythical figures such as Santa Claus, objects directly associated with Christmas such as candles, holly and baubles, or a variety of images associated with the season, such as Christmastide activities, snow scenes and the wildlife of the northern winter. There are even humorous cards and genres depicting nostalgic scenes of the past such as crinolined shoppers in idealized 19th century streetscapes.

Some prefer cards with a poem, prayer or Biblical verse; while others distance themselves from religion with an all-inclusive “Season’s greetings”.

Commemorative stamps

Main article: Christmas stamp

A number of nations have issued commemorative stamps at Christmastide. Postal customers will often use these stamps to mail Christmas cards, and they are popular with philatelists. These stamps are regular postage stamps, unlike Christmas seals, and are valid for postage year-round. They usually go on sale some time between early October and early December, and are printed in considerable quantities.

In 1898 a Canadian stamp was issued to mark the inauguration of the Imperial Penny Postage rate. The stamp features a map of the globe and bears an inscription “XMAS 1898” at the bottom. In 1937, Austria issued two “Christmas greeting stamps” featuring a rose and the signs of the zodiac. In 1939, Brazil issued four semi-postal stamps with designs featuring the three kings and a star of Bethlehem, an angel and child, the Southern Cross and a child, and a mother and child.

Both the US Postal Service and the Royal Mail regularly issue Christmas-themed stamps each year.

Gift giving

See also: Gift economy

The exchanging of gifts is one of the core aspects of the modern Christmas celebration, making the Christmas season the most profitable time of year for retailers and businesses throughout the world. Gift giving was common in the Roman celebration of Saturnalia, an ancient festival which took place in late December and may have influenced Christmas customs.[66] On Christmas, Christians exchange gifts on the basis that the tradition is associated St. Nicholas with Christmas,[67] and that gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh were given to the infant Jesus by the Biblical Magi.[68][69]

Gift-bearing figures

Main articles: Santa Claus and Father Christmas

Sinterklaas or Saint Nicholas, considered by many to be the original Santa Claus.

A number of figures are associated with Christmas and the seasonal giving of gifts. Among these are Father Christmas, also known as Santa Claus (derived from the Dutch for Saint Nicholas), Père Noël, and the Weihnachtsmann; Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas; the Christkind; Kris Kringle; Joulupukki; Babbo Natale; Saint Basil; and Father Frost.

The best known of these figures today is red-dressed Santa Claus, of diverse origins. The name Santa Claus can be traced back to the Dutch Sinterklaas, which means simply Saint Nicholas. Nicholas was Bishop of Myra, in modern day Turkey, during the 4th century. Among other saintly attributes, he was noted for the care of children, generosity, and the giving of gifts. His feast on December 6 came to be celebrated in many countries with the giving of gifts.[70]

Saint Nicholas traditionally appeared in bishop’s attire, accompanied by helpers, inquiring about the behaviour of children during the past year before deciding whether they deserved a gift or not. By the 13th century, Saint Nicholas was well known in the Netherlands, and the practice of gift-giving in his name spread to other parts of central and southern Europe. At the Reformation in 16th–17th century Europe, many Protestants changed the gift bringer to the Christ Child or Christkindl, corrupted in English to Kris Kringle, and the date of giving gifts changed from December 6 to Christmas Eve.[70]

The modern popular image of Santa Claus, however, was created in the United States, and in particular in New York. The transformation was accomplished with the aid of notable contributors including Washington Irving and the German-American cartoonist Thomas Nast (1840–1902). Following the American Revolutionary War, some of the inhabitants of New York City sought out symbols of the city’s non-English past. New York had originally been established as the Dutch colonial town of New Amsterdam and the Dutch Sinterklaas tradition was reinvented as Saint Nicholas.[71]

In 1809, the New-York Historical Society convened and retroactively named Sancte Claus the patron saint of Nieuw Amsterdam, the Dutch name for New York City.[72] At his first American appearance in 1810, Santa Claus was drawn in bishops’ robes. However as new artists took over, Santa Claus developed more secular attire.[73] Nast drew a new image of “Santa Claus” annually, beginning in 1863. By the 1880s, Nast’s Santa had evolved into the robed, fur clad, form we now recognize, perhaps based on the English figure of Father Christmas. The image was standardized by advertisers in the 1920s.[74]

Father Christmas, a jolly, well nourished, bearded man who typified the spirit of good cheer at Christmas, predates the Santa Claus character. He is first recorded in early 17th century England, but was associated with holiday merrymaking and drunkenness rather than the bringing of gifts.[50] In Victorian Britain, his image was remade to match that of Santa. The French Père Noël evolved along similar lines, eventually adopting the Santa image. In Italy, Babbo Natale acts as Santa Claus, while La Befana is the bringer of gifts and arrives on the eve of the Epiphany. It is said that La Befana set out to bring the baby Jesus gifts, but got lost along the way. Now, she brings gifts to all children. In some cultures Santa Claus is accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht, or Black Peter. In other versions, elves make the toys. His wife is referred to as Mrs. Claus.

Santa Claus is famous around the world for giving gifts to ‘good’ children.

There has been some opposition to the narrative of the American evolution of Saint Nicholas into the modern Santa. It has been claimed that the Saint Nicholas Society was not founded until 1835, almost half a century after the end of the American War of Independence.[75] Moreover, a study of the “children’s books, periodicals and journals” of New Amsterdam by Charles Jones revealed no references to Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas.[76] However, not all scholars agree with Jones’s findings, which he reiterated in a booklength study in 1978;[77] Howard G. Hageman, of New Brunswick Theological Seminary, maintains that the tradition of celebrating Sinterklaas in New York was alive and well from the early settlement of the Hudson Valley on.[78]

Current tradition in several Latin American countries (such as Venezuela and Colombia) holds that while Santa makes the toys, he then gives them to the Baby Jesus, who is the one who actually delivers them to the children’s homes, a reconciliation between traditional religious beliefs and the iconography of Santa Claus imported from the United States.

In South Tyrol (Italy), Austria, Czech Republic, Southern Germany, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Slovakia and Switzerland, the Christkind (Ježíšek in Czech, Jézuska in Hungarian and Ježiško in Slovak) brings the presents. Greek children get their presents from Saint Basil on New Year’s Eve, the eve of that saint’s liturgical feast.[79] The German St. Nikolaus is not identical with the Weihnachtsmann (who is the German version of Santa Claus/Father Christmas). St. Nikolaus wears a bishop‘s dress and still brings small gifts (usually candies, nuts and fruits) on December 6 and is accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht. Although many parents around the world routinely teach their children about Santa Claus and other gift bringers, some have come to reject this practice, considering it deceptive.[80]

Date of celebration

In the earliest centuries of Christianity, no particular day of the year is known to have been associated with the birth of Jesus. Various dates were speculated: May 20, April 18 or 19, March 25, January 2, November 17 or 20.[6][81] When celebration on a particular date began, January 6 prevailed at least in the East;[82] but, except among Armenians (the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Armenian Catholic Church), who continue to celebrate the birth on January 6, December 25 eventually won acceptance everywhere.[81]

The birth of Jesus was announced in Luke 2:11, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Moreover, the belief that God came into the world in the form of man to atone for the sins of humanity is considered to be the primary purpose in celebrating Christmas.[83][84][85]

In the early 4th century, the church calendar in Rome contained Christmas on December 25 and other holidays placed on solar dates: “It is cosmic symbolism…which inspired the Church leadership in Rome to elect the southern solstice, December 25, as the birthday of Christ, and the northern solstice as that of John the Baptist, supplemented by the equinoxes as their respective dates of conception. While they were aware that pagans called this day the ‘birthday’ of Sol Invictus, this did not concern them and it did not play any role in their choice of date for Christmas,” according to modern scholar S.E. Hijmans.[86]

Around the year 386 John Chrysostom delivered a sermon in Antioch in favour of adopting the 25 December celebration also in the East, since, he said, the conception of Jesus (Luke 1:26) had been announced during the sixth month of Elisabeth’s pregnancy with John the Baptist (Luke 1:10–13), which he dated from the duties Zacharias performed on the Day of Atonement during the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar Ethanim or Tishri (Lev. 16:29, 1 Kings 8:2) which falls from late September to early October.[6] That shepherds watched the flocks by night in the fields in the winter time is supported by the phrase “frost by night” in Genesis 31:38–40. A special group known as the shepherds of Migdal Eder (Gen. 35:19–21, Micah 4:8) watched the flocks by night year round pastured for Temple Sacrifice near Bethlehem.[87][88]

In the early 18th century, some scholars proposed alternative explanations. Isaac Newton argued that the date of Christmas, celebrating the birth of him whom Christians consider to be the “Sun of righteousness” prophesied in Malachi 4:2,[19] was selected to correspond with the southern solstice, which the Romans called bruma, celebrated on December 25.[89] In 1743, German Protestant Paul Ernst Jablonski argued Christmas was placed on December 25 to correspond with the Roman solar holiday Dies Natalis Solis Invicti and was therefore a “paganization” that debased the true church.[22] It has been argued that, on the contrary, the Emperor Aurelian, who in 274 instituted the holiday of the Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, did so partly as an attempt to give a pagan significance to a date already important for Christians in Rome.[90] In 1889, Louis Duchesne proposed that the date of Christmas was calculated as nine months after the Annunciation, the traditional date of the conception of Jesus.[91][18]

Using the Julian calendar and the revised Julian calendar

Eastern Orthodox national churches, including those of Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and the Greek Patriarchate of Jerusalem mark feasts using the older Julian calendar. December 25 on the Julian calendar currently corresponds to January 7 on the internationally used Gregorian calendar. However, other Orthodox Christians, such as the churches of Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Antioch, Alexandria, Albania, Finland and the Orthodox Church in America, among others, began using the Revised Julian calendar in the early 20th century, which corresponds exactly to the Gregorian calendar.[4]

Listing

Church or section Date Calendar Gregorian date Note
Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem January 6 Julian calendar January 19 Correspondence between Julian January 6 and Gregorian January 19 holds until 2100; in the following century the difference will be one day more.
Armenian Apostolic Church and the Armenian Catholic Church January 6 Gregorian calendar January 6
Eastern Orthodox: Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and the Greek Patriarchate of Jerusalem December 25 Julian calendar January 7
Other Eastern Orthodox Churches, including those of Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Antioch, Alexandria, Albania, Finland and the Orthodox Church in America December 25 Revised Julian calendar December 25 Revised Julian calendar usage started in the early 20th century
Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria Koiak 29 (corresponding to Julian December 25 or 26) Coptic calendar January 7 or 8 Since the Coptic calendar’s leap day is inserted in what the Julian calendar considers September, the following Koiak 29 falls one day later than usual in the Julian and Gregorian calendars
Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Tahsas 29 or 28 (corresponding to Julian December 25) Ethiopian Calendar January 7 After the Ethiopian insertion of a leap day in what for the Julian calendar is September, Christmas is celebrated on Tahsas 28 in order to maintain the exact interval of 9 30-day months and 5 days of the child’s gestation.[92] The Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church uses the same calendar but, like the Coptic Church, does not make this adjustment.
Western churches December 25 Gregorian calendar December 25

History

The earliest evidence of the celebration on December 25 of a Christian liturgical feast of the birth of Jesus is from the Chronography of 354 AD. This was in Rome, while in Eastern Christianity the birth of Jesus was already celebrated in connection with the Epiphany on January 6.[93][94] The December 25 celebration was imported into the East later: in Antioch by John Chrysostom towards the end of the 4th century,[94] probably in 388, and in Alexandria only in the following century.[95] Even in the West, the January 6 celebration of the nativity of Jesus seems to have continued until after 380.[96]

Many popular customs associated with Christmas developed independently of the commemoration of Jesus’ birth, with certain elements having origins in pre-Christian festivals that were celebrated around the winter solstice by pagan populations who were later converted to Christianity. These elements, including the Yule log from Yule and gift giving from Saturnalia,[66] became syncretized into Christmas over the centuries. The prevailing atmosphere of Christmas has also continually evolved since the holiday’s inception, ranging from a sometimes raucous, drunken, carnival-like state in the Middle Ages,[97] to a tamer family-oriented and children-centered theme introduced in a 19th-century reformation.[98][99] Additionally, the celebration of Christmas was banned on more than one occasion within Protestant Christendom due to concerns that it was too pagan or unbiblical.[100][101]

Mosaic of Jesus as Christo Sole (Christ the Sun) in Mausoleum M in the pre-fourth-century necropolis under St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.[102]

Pre-Christian background

Dies Natalis Solis Invicti

Main article: Sol Invictus

Dies Natalis Solis Invicti means “the birthday of the unconquered sun”.

Some early Christian writers connected the sun to the birth of Jesus, which Christians believe was prophesied in Malachi 4:2 as the “Sun of Righteousness.”[6] “O, how wonderfully acted Providence that on that day on which that Sun was born…Christ should be born”, Cyprian wrote.[6] In the fourth century, John Chrysostom commented on the connection: “But Our Lord, too, is born in the month of December . . . the eight before the calends of January [25 December] . . ., But they call it the ‘Birthday of the Unconquered’. Who indeed is so unconquered as Our Lord . . .? Or, if they say that it is the birthday of the Sun, He is the Sun of Justice.”[6]

One ancient source mentioned Dies Natalis Solis Invicti in the Chronography of 354, and Sol scholar Steven Hijmans stated that there is no evidence that the celebration precedes that of Christmas:[86] “[W]hile the winter solstice on or around December 25 was well established in the Roman imperial calendar, there is no evidence that a religious celebration of Sol on that day antedated the celebration of Christmas, and none that indicates that Aurelian had a hand in its institution.”[86]

Winter festivals

A winter festival was the most popular festival of the year in many cultures. Reasons included the fact that less agricultural work needs to be done during the winter, as well as an expectation of better weather as spring approached.[103] Modern Christmas customs include: gift-giving and merrymaking from Roman Saturnalia; greenery, lights, and charity from the Roman New Year; and Yule logs and various foods from Germanic feasts.[104]

Pagan Scandinavia celebrated a winter festival called Yule, held in the late December to early January period.[citation needed] As Northern Europe was the last part to Christianize, its pagan traditions had a major influence on Christmas, especially Koleda,[105] which was incorporated into the Christmas carol. Scandinavians still call Christmas Jul. In English, the word Yule is synonymous with Christmas,[106] a usage first recorded in 900.

Christianity

The New Testament Gospel of Luke may indirectly give the date as December for the birth of Jesus, with the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy with John the Baptist cited by John Chrysostom (c. 386) as a date for the Annunciation.[6][18][88][107] Tertullian (d. 220) did not mention Christmas as a major feast day in the Church of Roman Africa.[6] In Chronographai, a reference work published in 221, Sextus Julius Africanus suggested that Jesus was conceived on the spring equinox.[108][109] The equinox was March 25 on the Roman calendar, so this implied a birth in December.[110]

Bishops Theophilus of Antioch (ca. 175) and Hippolytus of Rome (204) are often cited among the earliest Christian references to December 25 being the Date of Christ’s birth.[citation needed] In 245, the theologian Origen of Alexandria stated that, “only sinners (like Pharaoh and Herod)” celebrated their birthdays.[111] In 303, Christian writer Arnobius ridiculed the idea of celebrating the birthdays of gods, a passage cited as evidence that Arnobius was unaware of any nativity celebration.[112] Since Christmas does not celebrate Christ’s birth “as God” but “as man”, this is not evidence against Christmas being a feast at this time.[6] The fact the Donatists of North Africa celebrated Christmas may indicate that the feast was established by the time that church was created in 311.

Feast established

The earliest known reference to the date of the nativity as December 25 is found in the Chronography of 354, an illuminated manuscript compiled in Rome.[113] In the East, early Christians celebrated the birth of Christ as part of Epiphany (January 6), although this festival emphasized celebration of the baptism of Jesus.[114]

Christmas was promoted in the Christian East as part of the revival of Catholicism following the death of the pro-Arian Emperor Valens at the Battle of Adrianople in 378. The feast was introduced to Constantinople in 379, and to Antioch in about 380. The feast disappeared after Gregory of Nazianzus resigned as bishop in 381, although it was reintroduced by John Chrysostom in about 400.[6]

The Examination and Trial of Father Christmas, (1686), published shortly after Christmas was reinstated as a holy day in England.

Middle Ages

In the Early Middle Ages, Christmas Day was overshadowed by Epiphany, which in western Christianity focused on the visit of the magi. But the medieval calendar was dominated by Christmas-related holidays. The forty days before Christmas became the “forty days of St. Martin” (which began on November 11, the feast of St. Martin of Tours), now known as Advent.[97] In Italy, former Saturnalian traditions were attached to Advent.[97] Around the 12th century, these traditions transferred again to the Twelve Days of Christmas (December 25 – January 5); a time that appears in the liturgical calendars as Christmastide or Twelve Holy Days.[97]

The prominence of Christmas Day increased gradually after Charlemagne was crowned Emperor on Christmas Day in 800. King Edmund the Martyr was anointed on Christmas in 855 and King William I of England was crowned on Christmas Day 1066.

By the High Middle Ages, the holiday had become so prominent that chroniclers routinely noted where various magnates celebrated Christmas. King Richard II of England hosted a Christmas feast in 1377 at which twenty-eight oxen and three hundred sheep were eaten.[97] The Yule boar was a common feature of medieval Christmas feasts. Caroling also became popular, and was originally a group of dancers who sang. The group was composed of a lead singer and a ring of dancers that provided the chorus. Various writers of the time condemned caroling as lewd, indicating that the unruly traditions of Saturnalia and Yule may have continued in this form.[97] “Misrule”—drunkenness, promiscuity, gambling—was also an important aspect of the festival. In England, gifts were exchanged on New Year’s Day, and there was special Christmas ale.[97]

Christmas during the Middle Ages was a public festival that incorporated ivy, holly, and other evergreens.[115] Christmas gift-giving during the Middle Ages was usually between people with legal relationships, such as tenant and landlord.[115] The annual indulgence in eating, dancing, singing, sporting, and card playing escalated in England, and by the 17th century the Christmas season featured lavish dinners, elaborate masques and pageants. In 1607, King James I insisted that a play be acted on Christmas night and that the court indulge in games.[116] It was during the Reformation in 16th–17th century Europe that many Protestants changed the gift bringer to the Christ Child or Christkindl, and the date of giving gifts changed from December 6 to Christmas Eve.[70]

Reformation into the 19th century

Following the Protestant Reformation, groups such as the Puritans strongly condemned the celebration of Christmas, considering it a Catholic invention and the “trappings of popery” or the “rags of the Beast.”[100] The Catholic Church responded by promoting the festival in a more religiously oriented form. King Charles I of England directed his noblemen and gentry to return to their landed estates in midwinter to keep up their old style Christmas generosity.[116] Following the Parliamentarian victory over Charles I during the English Civil War, England’s Puritan rulers banned Christmas in 1647.[100]

Protests followed as pro-Christmas rioting broke out in several cities and for weeks Canterbury was controlled by the rioters, who decorated doorways with holly and shouted royalist slogans.[100] The book, The Vindication of Christmas (London, 1652), argued against the Puritans, and makes note of Old English Christmas traditions, dinner, roast apples on the fire, card playing, dances with “plow-boys” and “maidservants”, and carol singing.[117] The Restoration of King Charles II in 1660 ended the ban, but many clergymen still disapproved of Christmas celebration. In Scotland, the Presbyterian Church of Scotland also discouraged the observance of Christmas, and though James VI commanded its celebration in 1618, attendance at church was scant.[118] The Parliament of Scotland officially abolished the observance of Christmas in 1640, claiming that the church had been “purged of all superstitious observation of days”.[119] It was not until 1958 that Christmas again became a Scottish public holiday.[120]

In Colonial America, the Puritans of New England shared radical Protestant disapproval of Christmas. Celebration was outlawed in Boston from 1659 to 1681. The ban by the Pilgrims was revoked in 1681 by English governor Sir Edmund Andros, however it was not until the mid-19th century that celebrating Christmas became fashionable in the Boston region.[101]

At the same time, Christian residents of Virginia and New York observed the holiday freely. Pennsylvania German Settlers, pre-eminently the Moravian settlers of Bethlehem, Nazareth and Lititz in Pennsylvania and the Wachovia Settlements in North Carolina, were enthusiastic celebrators of Christmas. The Moravians in Bethlehem had the first Christmas trees in America as well as the first Nativity Scenes.[121] Christmas fell out of favor in the United States after the American Revolution, when it was considered an English custom.[122] George Washington attacked Hessian (German) mercenaries on the day after Christmas during the Battle of Trenton on December 26, 1776, Christmas being much more popular in Germany than in America at this time.

In the early 19th century, writers imagined Tudor Christmas as a time of heartfelt celebration. In 1843, Charles Dickens wrote the novel A Christmas Carol, that helped revive the ‘spirit’ of Christmas and seasonal merriment.[98][99] Its instant popularity played a major role in portraying Christmas as a holiday emphasizing family, goodwill, and compassion.[123]

The Queen’s Christmas tree at Windsor Castle published in the Illustrated London News, 1848, and republished in Godey’s Lady’s Book, Philadelphia, December 1850.

Dickens sought to construct Christmas as a family-centered festival of generosity, in contrast to the community-based and church-centered observations, the observance of which had dwindled during the late 18th century and early 19th century.[124] Superimposing his secular vision of the holiday, Dickens influenced many aspects of Christmas that are celebrated today in Western culture, such as family gatherings, seasonal food and drink, dancing, games, and a festive generosity of spirit.[125] A prominent phrase from the tale, ‘Merry Christmas’, was popularized following the appearance of the story.[126] This coincided with the appearance of the Oxford Movement and the growth of Anglo-Catholicism, which led a revival in traditional rituals and religious observances.[127]

The term Scrooge became a synonym for miser, with ‘Bah! Humbug!’ dismissive of the festive spirit.[128] In 1843, the first commercial Christmas card was produced by Sir Henry Cole.[129] The revival of the Christmas Carol began with William B. Sandys Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern (1833), with the first appearance in print of ‘The First Noel’, ‘I Saw Three Ships’, ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’ and ‘God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen’, popularized in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

In Britain, the Christmas tree was introduced in the early 19th century following the personal union with the Kingdom of Hanover, by Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Queen to King George III. In 1832 a young Queen Victoria wrote about her delight at having a Christmas tree, hung with lights, ornaments, and presents placed round it.[130] After her marriage to her German cousin Prince Albert, by 1841 the custom became more widespread throughout Britain.[53]

An image of the British royal family with their Christmas tree at Windsor Castle, created a sensation when it was published in the Illustrated London News in 1848. A modified version of this image was published in the United States in 1850.[54][131] By the 1870s, putting up a Christmas tree had become common in America.[54]

A Norwegian Christmas, 1846 painting by Adolph Tidemand.

In America, interest in Christmas had been revived in the 1820s by several short stories by Washington Irving which appear in his The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon and “Old Christmas”. Irving’s stories depicted harmonious warm-hearted English Christmas festivities he experienced while staying in Aston Hall, Birmingham, England, that had largely been abandoned,[132] and he used the tract Vindication of Christmas (1652) of Old English Christmas traditions, that he had transcribed into his journal as a format for his stories.[116]

In 1822, Clement Clarke Moore wrote the poem A Visit From St. Nicholas (popularly known by its first line: Twas the Night Before Christmas).[133] The poem helped popularize the tradition of exchanging gifts, and seasonal Christmas shopping began to assume economic importance.[134] This also started the cultural conflict of the holiday’s spiritualism and its commercialism that some see as corrupting the holiday. In her 1850 book “The First Christmas in New England”, Harriet Beecher Stowe includes a character who complains that the true meaning of Christmas was lost in a shopping spree.[135]

While the celebration of Christmas was not yet customary in some regions in the U.S., Henry Wadsworth Longfellow detected “a transition state about Christmas here in New England” in 1856. “The old puritan feeling prevents it from being a cheerful, hearty holiday; though every year makes it more so”.[136] In Reading, Pennsylvania, a newspaper remarked in 1861, “Even our presbyterian friends who have hitherto steadfastly ignored Christmas — threw open their church doors and assembled in force to celebrate the anniversary of the Savior’s birth”.[136]

The First Congregational Church of Rockford, Illinois, ‘although of genuine Puritan stock’, was ‘preparing for a grand Christmas jubilee’, a news correspondent reported in 1864.[136] By 1860, fourteen states including several from New England had adopted Christmas as a legal holiday.[137] In 1870, Christmas was formally declared a United States Federal holiday, signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant.[137] Subsequently, in 1875, Louis Prang introduced the Christmas card to Americans. He has been called the “father of the American Christmas card”.[138]

Controversy and criticism

Throughout the holiday’s history, Christmas has been the subject of controversy and attacks from various sources. The first documented Christmas controversy was Puritan led, and began during the English Interregnum, when England was ruled by a Puritan Parliament.[139] Puritans sought to remove the remaining pagan elements of Christmas. During this brief period, the Puritan led English Parliament banned the celebration of Christmas entirely, considering it “a popish festival with no biblical justification”, and a time of wasteful and immoral behavior.[140] In Colonial America, the Puritans outlawed celebration of Christmas in 1659.[141]

Christians and defenders of religious freedom have claimed that attacks on Christmas continue in the present-day (dubbed a “war on Christmas”).[142][143] One controversy is the occurrence of Christmas trees being renamed Holiday trees.[142] In the United States there has been a tendency to replace the greeting Merry Christmas with Happy Holidays.[144] Groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union have initiated court cases to bar the display of images and other material referring to Christmas from public property, including schools.[145] Such groups argue that government-funded displays of Christmas imagery and traditions violate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which prohibits the establishment by Congress of a national religion.[146] In 1984, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Lynch vs. Donnelly that a Christmas display (which included a Nativity scene) owned and displayed by the city of Pawtucket, Rhode Island did not violate the First Amendment.[147]

In November 2009, the Federal appeals court in Philadelphia endorsed a school district’s ban on the singing of Christmas carols.[148] The US Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal.[149] In the private sphere also, it has been alleged that any specific mention of the term “Christmas” or its religious aspects was being increasingly censored, avoided, or discouraged by a number of advertisers and retailers. In response, the American Family Association and other groups have organized boycotts of individual retailers.[150]

In the United Kingdom there have been some minor controversies, one of the most famous being the temporary promotion of the Christmas period as Winterval by Birmingham City Council in 1998.[151] Critics attacked the use of the word Winterval as political correctness gone mad, accusing council officials of trying to take the Christ out of Christmas.[151] The council responded to the criticism by stating that Christmas-related words and symbols were prominent in its publicity material.[151] There were also protests in November 2009 when the city council of Dundee promoted its celebrations as the Winter Night Light festival, initially with no specific Christmas references.[152]

Economics

Christmas market in Jena, Germany

Christmas is typically the largest annual economic stimulus for many nations around the world. Sales increase dramatically in almost all retail areas and shops introduce new products as people purchase gifts, decorations, and supplies. In the U.S., the “Christmas shopping season” starts as early as October.[153][154] In Canada, merchants begin advertising campaigns just before Halloween (October 31), and step up their marketing following Remembrance Day on November 11. In the UK and Ireland, the Christmas shopping season starts from mid November, around the time when high street Christmas lights are turned on.[155][156] In the United States, it has been calculated that a quarter of all personal spending takes place during the Christmas/holiday shopping season.[157] Figures from the U.S. Census Bureau reveal that expenditure in department stores nationwide rose from $20.8 billion in November 2004 to $31.9 billion in December 2004, an increase of 54 percent. In other sectors, the pre-Christmas increase in spending was even greater, there being a November – December buying surge of 100 percent in bookstores and 170 percent in jewelry stores. In the same year employment in American retail stores rose from 1.6 million to 1.8 million in the two months leading up to Christmas.[158] Industries completely dependent on Christmas include Christmas cards, of which 1.9 billion are sent in the United States each year, and live Christmas Trees, of which 20.8 million were cut in the U.S. in 2002.[159] In the UK in 2010, up to £8 billion was expected to be spent online at Christmas, approximately a quarter of total retail festive sales.[156]

Each year (most notably 2000) money supply in US banks is increased for Christmas shopping.

In most Western nations, Christmas Day is the least active day of the year for business and commerce; almost all retail, commercial and institutional businesses are closed, and almost all industries cease activity (more than any other day of the year), whether laws require such or not. In England and Wales, the Christmas Day (Trading) Act 2004 prevents all large shops from trading on Christmas Day. Scotland is currently planning similar legislation. Film studios release many high-budget movies during the holiday season, including Christmas films, fantasy movies or high-tone dramas with high production values to hopes of maximizing the chance of nominations for the Academy Awards.

One economist‘s analysis calculates that, despite increased overall spending, Christmas is a deadweight loss under orthodox microeconomic theory, because of the effect of gift-giving. This loss is calculated as the difference between what the gift giver spent on the item and what the gift receiver would have paid for the item. It is estimated that in 2001, Christmas resulted in a $4 billion deadweight loss in the U.S. alone.[160][161] Because of complicating factors, this analysis is sometimes used to discuss possible flaws in current microeconomic theory. Other deadweight losses include the effects of Christmas on the environment and the fact that material gifts are often perceived as white elephants, imposing cost for upkeep and storage and contributing to clutter.[162]

See also

References and notes

  1. ^ a b Christmas as a Multi-faith Festival—BBC News. Retrieved 2008-09-30.
  2. ^ a b Several traditions of Eastern Christianity that use the Julian calendar also celebrate on December 25 according to that calendar, which is now January 7 on the Gregorian calendar. Armenian Churches observed the nativity on January 6 even before the Gregorian calendar originated. Most Armenian Christians use the Gregorian calendar, still celebrating Christmas Day on January 6. Some Armenian churches use the Julian calendar, thus celebrating Christmas Day on January 19 on the Gregorian calendar, with January 18 being Christmas Eve.
  3. ^ a b Ramzy, John. “The Glorious Feast of Nativity: 7 January? 29 Kiahk? 25 December?”. Coptic Orthodox Church Network. Retrieved 2011-01-17.
  4. ^ a b c “Christmas in Bethlehem”.
  5. ^ Christmas, Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 2008-10-06.
    Archived 2009-10-31.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k “Christmas”, The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913.
  7. ^ “The Christmas Season”. CRI / Voice, Institute. Retrieved 2008-12-25.
  8. ^ Canadian Heritage – Public holidaysGovernment of Canada. Retrieved November 27, 2009.
  9. ^ 2009 Federal HolidaysU.S. Office of Personnel Management. Retrieved November 27, 2009.
  10. ^ Bank holidays and British Summer timeHM Government. Retrieved November 27, 2009.
  11. ^ Why I celebrate Christmas, by the world’s most famous atheistDailyMail. December 23, 2008. Retrieved 2010-12-20.
  12. ^ Non-Christians focus on secular side of ChristmasSioux City Journal. Retrieved 2009-11-18.
  13. ^ Some of the historians and Biblical scholars who place the birth of Jesus in the 7–2 BC range include D. A. Carson, Douglas J. Moo and Leon Morris. An Introduction to the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992, 54, 56
  14. ^ The year 5 BC corresponds to year 749 AUC used during the Roman Empire.
  15. ^ [1] Sourcebook for Sundays, Seasons, and Weekdays 2011: The Almanac for Pastoral Liturgy by Corinna Laughlin, Michael R. Prendergast, Robert C. Rabe, Corinna Laughlin, Jill Maria Murdy, Therese Brown, Mary Patricia Storms, Ann E. Degenhard, Jill Maria Murdy, Ann E. Degenhard, Therese Brown, Robert C. Rabe, Mary Patricia Storms, Michael R. Prendergast – LiturgyTrainingPublications, Mar 26, 2010 – page 29
  16. ^ The Chronography of 354 AD. Part 12: Commemorations of the MartyrsThe Tertullian Project. 2006. Retrieved November 24, 2011.
  17. ^ Roll, Susan K., Toward the Origins of Christmas, (Peeters Publishers, 1995), p.133.
  18. ^ a b c d McGowan, Andrew. “How December 25 Became Christmas, Biblical Archaeology Review, Retrieved 2009-12-13”. Bib-arch.org. Retrieved 2011-02-24.
  19. ^ a b Newton, Isaac, Observations on the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John (1733). Ch. XI. A sun connection is possible because Christians consider Jesus to be the “Sun of righteousness” prophesied in Malachi 4:2.
  20. ^ Robert Laurence Moore (1994). Selling God: American religion in the marketplace of culture. Oxford University Press. p. 205. “When the Catholic Church in the fourth century singled out December 25 as the birth date of Christ, it tried to stamp out the saturnalia common to the solstice season.”
  21. ^ Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Merriam Webster. 2000. p. 1211. “Christian missionaries frequently sought to stamp out pagan practices by building churches on the sites of pagan shrines or by associated Christian holidays with pagan rituals (eg. linking -Christmas with the celebration of the winter solstice).”
  22. ^ a bChristmas“, Encarta
    Roll, Susan K. (1995). Toward the Origins of Christmas. Peeters Publishers. p. 130.
    Tighe, William J., “Calculating Christmas“. Archived 2009-10-31.
  23. ^ West’s Federal Supplement. West Publishing Company. 1990. “While the Washington and King birthdays are exclusively secular holidays, Christmas has both secular and religious aspects.”
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  26. ^ a b “Christmas” in the Middle English Dictionary
  27. ^ Griffiths, Emma, “Why get cross about Xmas?”, BBC website, December 22, 2004. Retrieved December 12, 2011.
  28. ^ a b c Hutton, Ronald, The stations of the sun: a history of the ritual year, Oxford University Press, 2001.
  29. ^ “Midwinter” in Bosworth & Toller
  30. ^ Serjeantson, Mary Sidney, A History of Foreign Words in English
  31. ^ nativity, Online Etymology Dictionary
  32. ^ yule, Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved December 12.
  33. ^ noel Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved December 12.
  34. ^ Geza Vermes, The Nativity: History and Legend, London, Penguin, 2006, p22.; E. P. Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus, 1993, p.85.
  35. ^ Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing The Hidden Contradictions In The Bible (And Why We Don’t Know About Them), Harper Collins, 2009, Bart D. Ehrman, P. 19-60
  36. ^ Larry W. Hurtado (2005-12-15). Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity. Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.. ISBN 978-0-8028-3167-5. Retrieved 2010-12-02. “Yet, as in a number of other matters, in this emphasis Matthew essentially has extended and elaborated an affirmation that is already made in Mark, which opens (1:2–3) with a citation of “Isaiah the prophet” to introduce and frame the ensuing story of Jesus. The Lukan nativity account shows a similar concern and emphasis, even though the author uses different techniques in presenting them.”
  37. ^ JPH. “The Nativity Stories Harmonized”. TEKTON. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
  38. ^ Richard Bruce. “Reconciling the Nativity Stories of Matthew and Luke”. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
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  44. ^ a b Ace Collins (2010-04-01). Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas. Zondervan. ISBN 978-0-310-87388-4. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
  45. ^ Collins, Ace, Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas, Zondervan, (2003), ISBN 0-310-24880-9 p.47.
  46. ^ Collins p. 83.
  47. ^ a b Hal Siemer, Christmas Magic: The History and Traditions of the Holiday, QuestMagazine.com, 2004-12-02.
  48. ^ a b van Renterghem, Tony. When Santa was a shaman. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1995. ISBN 1-56718-765-X
  49. ^ Fritz Allhoff, Scott C. Lowe (2010). Christmas. John Wiley & Sons. “His biographer, Eddius Stephanus, relates that while Boniface was serving as a missionary near Geismar, Germany, he had enough of the locals’ reverence for the old gods. Taking an aze to an oak tree dedicated to Norse god Thor, Boniface chopped the tree down and dared Thor to zap him for it. When nothing happened, Boniface pointed out a young fir tree amid the roots of the oak and explained how this tree was a more fitting object of reverence as it pointed towards the Christian heaven and its triangular shape was reminiscent of the Christian trinity.”
  50. ^ a b Harper, Douglas, Christ, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001.
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  56. ^ Murray, Brian. “Christmas lights and community building in America,” History Matters, Spring 2006.
  57. ^ Miles, Clement, Christmas customs and traditions, Courier Dover Publications, 1976, ISBN 0-486-23354-5, p.32
  58. ^ Miles, pp. 31–37
  59. ^ Miles, pp. 47–48
  60. ^ Dudley-Smith, Timothy (1987). A Flame of Love. London: Triangle/SPCK. ISBN 0-281-04300-0.
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  62. ^ Broomfield, Andrea (2007) Food and cooking in Victorian England: a history pp.149–150. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007
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  64. ^ “Imbuljuta”. Schoolnet.gov.mt. Retrieved 2012-02-03.
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  66. ^ a b The Origin of the American Christmas Myth and CustomsBall State University. Swartz Jr., BK. Archived version retrieved 2011-10-19.
  67. ^ Ace Collins (10 April 2012). Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas. Zondervan. p. 17. “The legend of St. Nicholas, who became the bishop of Myra in the beginning of the fourth century, is the next link in the Christmas-gift chain. Legend has it that during his life the priest rode across Asia Minor bestowing gifts upon poor children.”
  68. ^ Trexler, Richard (23 May 1997). The Journey of the Magi: Meanings in History of a Christian Story. Princeton University Press. p. 17. Retrieved 10 April 2012. “This exchange network of ceremonial welcome was mirrored in a second reciprocity allowing early Christians to imagine their own magi: the phenomenon of giving gifts.”
  69. ^ Ace Collins (10 April 2012). Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas. Zondervan. p. 17. “Most people today trace the practice of giving gifts on Christmas Day to the three gifts that the Magi gave to Jesus.”
  70. ^ a b c Forbes, Bruce David, Christmas: a candid history, University of California Press, 2007, ISBN 0-520-25104-0, pp. 68–79.
  71. ^ Jona Lendering (2008-11-20). “Saint Nicholas, Sinterklaas, Santa Claus”. Livius.org. Retrieved 2011-02-24.
  72. ^ John Steele Gordon, The Great Game: The Emergence of Wall Street as a World Power: 1653–2000 (Scribner) 1999.
  73. ^ Forbes, Bruce David, Christmas: a candid history, pp. 80–81.
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  83. ^ The Liturgical Year. Thomas Nelson. Retrieved 2009-04-02. “Christmas is not really about the celebration of a birth date at all. It is about the celebration of a birth. The fact of the date and the fact of the birth are two different things. The calendrical verification of the feast itself is not really that important…What is important to the understanding of a life-changing moment is that it happened, not necessarily where or when it happened. The message is clear: Christmas is not about marking the actual birth date of Jesus. It is about the Incarnation of the One who became like us in all things but sin (Heb. 4:15) and who humbled Himself “to the point of death-even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8). Christmas is a pinnacle feast, yes, but it is not the beginning of the liturgical year. It is a memorial, a remembrance, of the birth of Jesus, not really a celebration of the day itself. We remember that because the Jesus of history was born, the Resurrection of the Christ of faith could happen.”
  84. ^ “The Christmas Season”. CRI / Voice, Institute. Retrieved 2009-04-02.
  85. ^ The School Journal, Volume 49. Harvard University. Retrieved 2009-04-02. “Throughout the Christian world the 25th of December is celebrated as the birthday of Jesus Christ. There was a time when the churches were not united regarding the date of the joyous event. Many Christians kept their Christmas in April, others in May, and still others at the close of September, till finally December 25 was agreed upon as the most appropriate date. The choice of that day was, of course, wholly arbitrary, for neither the exact date not the period of the year at which the birth of Christ occurred is known. For purposes of commemoration, however, it is unimportant whether the celebration shall fall or not a the precise anniversary of the joyous event.”
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  96. ^ Hastings and Selbie, p. 605
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  98. ^ a b Les Standiford. The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits, Crown, 2008. ISBN 978-0-307-40578-4
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  100. ^ a b c d Durston, Chris, “Lords of Misrule: The Puritan War on Christmas 1642–60”, History Today, December 1985, 35 (12) pp. 7 – 14. Archived at the Internet Archive
  101. ^ a b “When Christmas Was Banned – The early colonies and Christmas”. Apuritansmind.com. Retrieved 2011-02-24.
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  133. ^ Moore’s poem transferred the genuine old Dutch traditions celebrated at New Year in New York, including the exchange of gifts, family feasting, and tales of “sinterklass” (a derivation in Dutch from “Saint Nicholas,” from whence comes the modern “Santa Claus”) to Christmas.The history of Christmas: Christmas history in America, 2006
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Further reading

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Christmas Traditions

When was the first Christmas card sent? Why do we kiss under the mistletoe? Learn the origins of Christmas and fun facts about some of our favorite christmas traditions and symbols.

There are lots of Christmas traditions that are practiced by a number of countries all over the world during the holiday season. These traditions can be as diverse as the culture and religious practices of each and every country in the world.

Read about some of the most common christmas traditions her.

Origins of Christmas

christmas traditions From the Old English ‘Cristes Mæsse’~ meaning the ‘mass of Christ’ ~ the story of Christmas begins with the birth of a babe in Bethlehem.It is believed that Christ was born on the 25th, although the exact month is unknown. December was likely chosen so the Catholic Church could compete with rival pagan rituals held at that time of year and because of its closeness with the winter solstice in the Northern hemisphere, a traditional time of celebration among many ancient cultures.

Luke, Chapter Two
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Santa Claus

christmas traditions The origin of Santa Claus beginsin the 4th century with Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, an area in present day Turkey. By all accounts St. Nicholas was a generous man, particularly devoted to children. After his death around 340 A.D. he was buried in Myra, but in 1087 Italian sailors purportedly stole his remains and removed them to Bari, Italy, greatly increasing St. Nicholas’ popularity throughout Europe.His kindness and reputation for generosity gave rise to claims he that he could perform miracles and devotion to him increased. St. Nicholas became the patron saint of Russia, where he was known by his red cape, flowing white beard, and bishop’s mitre.

In Greece, he is the patron saint of sailors, in France he was the patron of lawyers, and in Belgium the patron of children and travellers. Thousands of churches across Europe were dedicated to him and some time around the 12th century an official church holiday was created in his honor. The Feast of St. Nicholas was celebrated December 6 and the day was marked by gift-giving and charity.

After the Reformation, European followers of St. Nicholas dwindled, but the legend was kept alive in Holland where the Dutch spelling of his name Sint Nikolaas was eventually transformed to Sinterklaas. Dutch children would leave their wooden shoes by the fireplace, and Sinterklaas would reward good children by placing treats in their shoes. Dutch colonists brought brought this tradition with them to America in the 17th century and here the Anglican name of Santa Claus emerged.

In 1822 Clement C. Moore composed the poem A Visit From Saint Nicholas, published as The Night Before Christmas as a gift for his children. In it, he portrays Santa Claus:

He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly,
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

Other countries feature different gift-bearers for the Christmas or Advent season: La Befana in Italy ~ The Three Kings in Spain, Puerto Rico, and Mexico ~ Christkindl or the Christ Child in Switzerland and Austria ~ Father Christmas in England ~ and Pere Noël, Father Christmas or the Christ Child in France. Still, the figure of Santa Claus as a jolly, benevolent, plump man in a red suit described in Moore’s poem remains with us today and is recognized by children and adults alike around the world.

Read even more abou christmas traditions andt Santa Claus

Christmas Trees

xmas traditions In 16th-century Germanyfir trees were decorated, both indoors and out, with apples, roses, gilded candies, and colored paper. In the Middle Ages, a popular religous play depicted the story of Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden.A fir tree hung with apples was used to symbolize the Garden of Eden — the Paradise Tree. The play ended with the prophecy of a saviour coming, and so was often performed during the Advent season.

It is held that Protestant reformer Martin Luther first adorned trees with light. While coming home one December evening, the beauty of the stars shining through the branches of a fir inspired him to recreate the effect by placing candles on the branches of a small fir tree inside his home

The Christmas Tree was brought to England by Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert from his native Germany. The famous Illustrated News etching in 1848, featuring the Royal Family of Victoria, Albert and their children gathered around a Christmas tree in Windsor Castle, popularized the tree throughout Victorian England. Brought to America by the Pennsylvania Germans, the Christmas tree became by the late 19th century.

Read even more about Christmas Trees

Focus on Christmas Traditions in US

The variations of the Christmas traditions of USA equal the number active cultures that have settled in the land. These cultural contributions were given a new lease of life by creative artists, authors, poets and songwriters, and it was melded together by the power of secular and commercialized media in record companies, radio stations, television, cinemas and now the internet. The unwritten law of media is the presentation of a seemingly uniform celebration of the Christmas traditions of USA. This is responsible for the world wide acceptance of a universal Christmas image which they get from the media. Nevertheless, the celebrations are peculiar to each region.

Christmas Stockings

According to legend, a kindly nobleman grew despondent over the death of his beloved wife and foolishly squandered his fortune. This left his three young daughters without dowries and thus facing a life of spinsterhood.

The generous St. Nicholas, hearing of the girls’ plight, set forth to help. Wishing to remain anonymous, he rode his white horse by the nobleman’s house and threw three small pouches of gold coins down the chimney where they were fortuitously captured by the stockings the young women had hung by the fireplace to dry. Read more about christmas stockings

 

Christmas Gifts

Mistletoe

Mistletoe was used by Druid priests200 years before the birth of Christ in their winter celebrations. They revered the plant since it had no roots yet remained green during the cold months of winter.The ancient Celtics believed mistletoe to have magical healing powers and used it as an antidote for poison, infertility, and to ward of evil spirits. The plant was also seen as a symbol of peace, and it is said that among Romans, enemies who met under mistletoe would lay down their weapons and embrace.

Scandanavians associated the plant with Frigga, their goddess of love, and it may be from this that we derive the custom of kissing under the mistletoe. Those who kissed under the mistletoe had the promise of happiness and good luck in the following year.

Holly, Ivy and Greenery

In Northern Europe Christmasoccurred during the middle of winter, when ghosts and demons could be heard howling in the winter winds. Boughs of holly, believed to have magical powers since they remained green through the harsh winter, were often placed over the doors of homes to drive evil away. Greenery was also brought indoors to freshen the air and brighten the mood during the long, dreary winter.Legend also has it that holly sprang from the footsteps of Christ as he walked the earth. The pointed leaves were said to represent the crown of thorns Christ wore while on the cross and the red berries symbolized the blood he shed.

Poinsettias

A native Mexican plant, poinsettias were named after Joel R. Poinsett, U.S. ambassador to Mexico who brought the plant to America in 1828. Poinsettias were likely used by Mexican Franciscans in their 17th century Christmas celebrations. One legend has it that a young Mexican boy, on his way to visit the village Nativity scene, realized he had no gift for the Christ child. He gathered pretty green branches from along the road and brought them to the church. Though the other children mocked him, when the leaves were laid at the manger, a beautiful star-shaped flower appeared on each branch. The bright red petals, often mistaken for flowers, are actually the upper leaves of the plant.

The Candy cane

It was not long after Europeansbegan using Christmas trees that special decorations were used to adorn them. Food items, such as candies and cookies, were used predominately and straight white candy sticks were one of the confections used as ornamentation. Legend has it that during the 17th century, craftsmen created the white sticks of candy in the shape of shephreds’ crooks at the suggestion of the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany.The candy treats were given to children to keep them quiet during ceremonies at the living creche, or Nativity scene, and the custom of passing out the candy crooks at such ceremonies soon spread throughout Europe.

According to the National Confectioner’s Association, in 1847 German immigrant August Imgard used the candy cane to decorate a Christmas tree in Wooster, Ohio. More than 50 years later, Bob McCormack of Albany, Georgia supposedly made candy canes as treats for family, friends and local shopkeepers. McCormack’s brother-in-law, Catholic priest Gregory Keller, invented a machine in the 1950s that automated the production of candy canes, thus eliminating the usual laborious process of creating the treats and the popularity of the candy cane grew.

More recent explanations of the candy cane’s symbolism hold that the color white represents Christ’s purity, the red the blood he shed, and the presence of three red stripes the Holy Trinity. While factual evidence for these notions does not exist, they have become increasingly common and at times are even represented as fact. Regardless, the candy cane remains a favorite holiday treat and decoration.

Christmas cards

A form of Christmas card beganin England first when young boys practiced their writing skills by creating Christmas greetings for their parents, but it is Sir Henry Cole who is credited with creating the first real Christmas card. The first director of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, Sir Henry found himself too busy in the Christmas season of 1843 to compose individual Christmas greetings for his friends.He commissioned artist John Calcott Horsley for the illustration. The card featured three panels, with the center panel depicting a family enjoying Christmas festivities and the card was inscribed with the message “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You.”

Read more about Christmas Cards

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer

The Chicago-based MontgomeryWard company, department store operators, had been purchasing and distributing children’s coloring books as Christmas gifts for their customers for several years. In 1939, Montgomery Ward tapped one of their own employees to create a book for them, thus saving money. 34-year old copywriter Robert L. May wrote the story of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer in 1939, and 2.4 million copies were handed out that year. Despite the wartime paper shortage, over 6 million copies had been distributed by 1946.May drew in part on the story “The Ugly Duckling” and in part from his own experiences as an often taunted, small, frail youth to create the story of the misfit reindeer. Though Rollo and Reginald were considered, May settled on Rudolph as his reindeer’s name.

Writing in verse as a series of rhyming couplets, May tested the story as he went along on his 4-year old daughter Barbara, who loved the story

Sadly, Robert Mays wife died around the time he was creating Rudolph, leaving Mays deeply in debt due to medical bills. However, he was able to persuade Sewell Avery, Montgomery Ward’s corporate president, to turn the copyright over to him in January 1947, thus ensuring May’s financial security.

May’s story “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was printed commercially in 1947 and in 1948 a nine-minute cartoon of the story was shown in theaters. When May’s brother-in-law, songwriter Johnny Marks, wrote the lyrics and melody for the song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, the Rudolph phenomenon was born. Turned down by many musical artists afraid to contend with the legend of Santa Claus, the song was recorded by Gene Autry in 1949 at the urging of Autry’s wife. The song sold two million copies that year, going on to become one of the best-selling songs of all time, second only to Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”. The 1964 television special about Rudolph, narrated by Burl Ives, remains a holiday favorite to this day and Rudolph himself has become a much-loved Christmas icon.

Hanukkah

Commencing on the 25th day of the Hebrew month Kislev, Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after its desecration by the Syrians.In 168 BC, members of the Jewish family Maccabee led a revolt against the Greek Syrians due to the policies of Syrian King Antiochus IV which were aimed at nullifying the Jewish faith. Part of this strategem included changing the Beit HaMikdash – the Holy Temple in Jerusalem – to a Greek temple complete with idolatry. Led by Judah Maccabee, the Jews won victory over the Syrians in 165 BC and reclaimed their temple.

After cleansing the temple and preparing for its rededication, it was found there was not enough oil to light the N’er Tamid, an oil lamp present in Jewish houses of worship which represents eternal light. Once lit, the lamp should never be extinguished.

A search of the temple produced a small vial of undefiled oil — enough for only one day. Miraculously, the Temple lights burned for eight days until a new supply of oil was brought. In remembrance of this miracle, one candle of the Menorah – an eight branched candelabra – is lit each of the eight days of Hanukkah. Hanukkah, which means dedication, is a Hebrew word when translated is commonly spelled Hanukah, Chanukah, and Hannukah due to different translations and customs.

The tradition of receiving gifts on each of the eight days of Hanukkah is relatively new and due in part to the celebration’s proximity to the Christmas season.

Kwanzaa

Doctor Maulana Karenga, a Professor at California State University in Long Beach, California, created Kwanzaa in 1966. It is a holiday celebrated by millions of African-Americans around the world, encouraging them to remember their African heritage and consider their current place in America today. Kwanzaa is celebrated fom December 26 to January 1 and involves seven principles called Nguzo Saba:Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith).In the Kwanzaa ritual, seven candles called Mishumaa Saba are placed in a Kinara, or candleholder, which is then set upon the Mikeka, a mat usually made of straw.

Three green candles are placed on the left, three red candles on the right and a black candle in the center, each candle representing one of the seven principles of the celebration. One candle is lit each day of the Kwanzaa celebration, beginning from left to right The colors of Kwanzaa ~ black, red and green ~ also have a special significance. Black symbolizes the faces of the African people, Red symbolizes the blood they have shed, and Green represents hope and the color of the motherland. The name itself – Kwanzaa – is a Swahili word meaning “fruits of the harvest.”

ALL THINGS CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS: Members of the All Things Christmas List at eGroups share their favorite Family Traditions for the Holiday season.

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St Therese of Lisieux

Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on September 28, 2012

St. Therese of Lisieux

Feastday: October 1
Patron of the Missions
1873 – 1897

Generations of Catholics have admired this young saint, called her the “Little Flower“, and found in her short life more inspiration for own lives than in volumes by theologians.

Yet Therese died when she was 24, after having lived as cloistered Carmelite for less than ten years. She never went on missions, never founded a religious order, never performed great works. The only book of hers, published after her death, was an brief edited version of her journal called “Story of a Soul.” (Collections of her letters and restored versions of her journals have been published recently.) But within 28 years of her death, the public demand was so great that she was canonized.

Over the years, some modern Catholics have turned away from her because they associate her with over- sentimentalized piety and yet the message she has for us is still as compelling and simple as it was almost a century ago.

Therese was born in France in 1873, the pampered daughter of a mother who had wanted to be a saint and a father who had wanted to be monk. The two had gotten married but determined they would be celibate until a priest told them that was not how God wanted a marriage to work! They must have followed his advice very well because they had nine children. The five children who lived were all daughters who were close all their lives.

Tragedy and loss came quickly to Therese when her mother died of breast cancer when she was four and a half years old. Her sixteen year old sister Pauline became her second mother — which made the second loss even worse when Pauline entered the Carmelite convent five years later. A few months later, Therese became so ill with a fever that people thought she was dying.

The worst part of it for Therese was all the people sitting around her bed staring at her like, she said, “a string of onions.” When Therese saw her sisters praying to statue of Mary in her room, Therese also prayed. She saw Mary smile at her and suddenly she was cured. She tried to keep the grace of the cure secret but people found out and badgered her with questions about what Mary was wearing, what she looked like. When she refused to give in to their curiosity, they passed the story that she had made the whole thing up.

Without realizing it, by the time she was eleven years old she had developed the habit of mental prayer. She would find a place between her bed and the wall and in that solitude think about God, life, eternity.

When her other sisters, Marie and Leonie, left to join religious orders (the Carmelites and Poor Clares, respectively), Therese was left alone with her last sister Celine and her father. Therese tells us that she wanted to be good but that she had an odd way of going about. This spoiled little Queen of her father’s wouldn’t do housework. She thought if she made the beds she was doing a great favor!

Every time Therese even imagined that someone was criticizing her or didn’t appreciate her, she burst into tears. Then she would cry because she had cried! Any inner wall she built to contain her wild emotions crumpled immediately before the tiniest comment.

Therese wanted to enter the Carmelite convent to join Pauline and Marie but how could she convince others that she could handle the rigors of Carmelite life, if she couldn’t handle her own emotional outbursts? She had prayed that Jesus would help her but there was no sign of an answer.

On Christmas day in 1886, the fourteen-year-old hurried home from church. In France, young children left their shoes by the hearth at Christmas, and then parents would fill them with gifts. By fourteen, most children outgrew this custom. But her sister Celine didn’t want Therese to grow up. So they continued to leave presents in “baby” Therese’s shoes.

As she and Celine climbed the stairs to take off their hats, their father’s voice rose up from the parlor below. Standing over the shoes, he sighed, “Thank goodness that’s the last time we shall have this kind of thing!”

Therese froze, and her sister looked at her helplessly. Celine knew that in a few minutes Therese would be in tears over what her father had said.

But the tantrum never came. Something incredible had happened to Therese. Jesus had come into her heart and done what she could not do herself. He had made her more sensitive to her father’s feelings than her own.

She swallowed her tears, walked slowly down the stairs, and exclaimed over the gifts in the shoes, as if she had never heard a word her father said. The following year she entered the convent. In her autobiography she referred to this Christmas as her “conversion.”

Therese be known as the Little Flower but she had a will of steel. When the superior of the Carmelite convent refused to take Therese because she was so young, the formerly shy little girl went to the bishop. When the bishop also said no, she decided to go over his head, as well.

Her father and sister took her on a pilgrimage to Rome to try to get her mind off this crazy idea. Therese loved it. It was the one time when being little worked to her advantage! Because she was young and small she could run everywhere, touch relics and tombs without being yelled at. Finally they went for an audience with the Pope. They had been forbidden to speak to him but that didn’t stop Therese. As soon as she got near him, she begged that he let her enter the Carmelite convent. She had to be carried out by two of the guards!

But the Vicar General who had seen her courage was impressed and soon Therese was admitted to the Carmelite convent that her sisters Pauline and Marie had already joined. Her romantic ideas of convent life and suffering soon met up with reality in a way she had never expected. Her father suffered a series of strokes that left him affected not only physically but mentally. When he began hallucinating and grabbed for a gun as if going into battle, he was taken to an asylum for the insane. Horrified, Therese learned of the humiliation of the father she adored and admired and of the gossip and pity of their so-called friends. As a cloistered nun she couldn’t even visit her father.

This began a horrible time of suffering when she experienced such dryness in prayer that she stated “Jesus isn’t doing much to keep the conversation going.” She was so grief-stricken that she often fell asleep in prayer. She consoled herself by saying that mothers loved children when they lie asleep in their arms so that God must love her when she slept during prayer.

She knew as a Carmelite nun she would never be able to perform great deeds. ” Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love.” She took every chance to sacrifice, no matter how small it would seem. She smiled at the sisters she didn’t like. She ate everything she was given without complaining — so that she was often given the worst leftovers. One time she was accused of breaking a vase when she was not at fault. Instead of arguing she sank to her knees and begged forgiveness. These little sacrifices cost her more than bigger ones, for these went unrecognized by others. No one told her how wonderful she was for these little secret humiliations and good deeds.

When Pauline was elected prioress, she asked Therese for the ultimate sacrifice. Because of politics in the convent, many of the sisters feared that the family Martin would taken over the convent. Therefore Pauline asked Therese to remain a novice, in order to allay the fears of the others that the three sisters would push everyone else around. This meant she would never be a fully professed nun, that she would always have to ask permission for everything she did. This sacrifice was made a little sweeter when Celine entered the convent after her father’s death. Four of the sisters were now together again.

Therese continued to worry about how she could achieve holiness in the life she led. She didn’t want to just be good, she wanted to be a saint. She thought there must be a way for people living hidden, little lives like hers. ” I have always wanted to become a saint. Unfortunately when I have compared myself with the saints, I have always found that there is the same difference between the saints and me as there is between a mountain whose summit is lost in the clouds and a humble grain of sand trodden underfoot by passers-by. Instead of being discouraged, I told myself: God would not make me wish for something impossible and so, in spite of my littleness, I can aim at being a saint. It is impossible for me to grow bigger, so I put up with myself as I am, with all my countless faults. But I will look for some means of going to heaven by a little way which is very short and very straight, a little way that is quite new.

” We live in an age of inventions. We need no longer climb laboriously up flights of stairs; in well-to-do houses there are lifts. And I was determined to find a lift to carry me to Jesus, for I was far too small to climb the steep stairs of perfection. So I sought in holy Scripture some idea of what this life I wanted would be, and I read these words: “Whosoever is a little one, come to me.” It is your arms, Jesus, that are the lift to carry me to heaven. And so there is no need for me to grow up: I must stay little and become less and less.”

She worried about her vocation: ” I feel in me the vocation of the Priest. I have the vocation of the Apostle. Martyrdom was the dream of my youth and this dream has grown with me. Considering the mystical body of the Church, I desired to see myself in them all. Charity gave me the key to my vocation. I understood that the Church had a Heart and that this Heart was burning with love. I understood that Love comprised all vocations, that Love was everything, that it embraced all times and places…in a word, that it was eternal! Then in the excess of my delirious joy, I cried out: O Jesus, my Love…my vocation, at last I have found it…My vocation is Love!”

When an antagonist was elected prioress, new political suspicions and plottings sprang up. The concern over the Martin sisters perhaps was not exaggerated. In this small convent they now made up one-fifth of the population. Despite this and the fact that Therese was a permanent novice they put her in charge of the other novices.

Then in 1896, she coughed up blood. She kept working without telling anyone until she became so sick a year later everyone knew it. Worst of all she had lost her joy and confidence and felt she would die young without leaving anything behind. Pauline had already had her writing down her memories for journal and now she wanted her to continue — so they would have something to circulate on her life after her death.

Her pain was so great that she said that if she had not had faith she would have taken her own life without hesitation. But she tried to remain smiling and cheerful — and succeeded so well that some thought she was only pretending to be ill. Her one dream as the work she would do after her death, helping those on earth. “I will return,” she said. “My heaven will be spent on earth.” She died on September 30, 1897 at the age of 24 years old. She herself felt it was a blessing God allowed her to die at exactly that age. she had always felt that she had a vocation to be a priest and felt God let her die at the age she would have been ordained if she had been a man so that she wouldn’t have to suffer.

After she died, everything at the convent went back to normal. One nun commented that there was nothing to say about Therese. But Pauline put together Therese’s writings (and heavily edited them, unfortunately) and sent 2000 copies to other convents. But Therese’s “little way” of trusting in Jesus to make her holy and relying on small daily sacrifices instead of great deeds appealed to the thousands of Catholics and others who were trying to find holiness in ordinary lives. Within two years, the Martin family had to move because her notoriety was so great and by 1925 she had been canonized.

Therese of Lisieux is one of the patron saints of the missions, not because she ever went anywhere, but because of her special love of the missions, and the prayers and letters she gave in support of missionaries. This is reminder to all of us who feel we can do nothing, that it is the little things that keep God’s kingdom growing.

from Wikipedia

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (2 January 1873 – 30 September 1897), or Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, born Marie-Françoise-Thérèse Martin, was a French Carmelite nun. She is also known as “The Little Flower of Jesus”.

She felt an early call to religious life, and overcoming various obstacles, in 1888 at the early age of 15, became a nun and joined two of her elder sisters in the cloistered Carmelite community of Lisieux, Normandy. After nine years as a Carmelite religious, having fulfilled various offices such as sacristan and assistant to the novice mistress, and having spent the last eighteen months in Carmel in a night of faith, she died of tuberculosis at the age of 24.

The impact of The Story of a Soul, a collection of her autobiographical manuscripts, printed and distributed a year after her death to an initially very limited audience, was great, and she rapidly became one of the most popular saints of the twentieth century. Pope Pius XI made her the “star of his pontificate”.[1] She was beatified in 1923, and canonized in 1925. Thérèse was declared co-patron of the missions with Francis Xavier in 1927, and named co-patron of France with Joan of Arc in 1944. On 19 October 1997 Pope John Paul II declared her the thirty-third Doctor of the Church, the youngest person, and only the third woman, to be so honored. Devotion to Thérèse has developed around the world.[2]

Thérèse lived a hidden life and “wanted to be unknown,” yet became popular after her death through her spiritual autobiography – she left also letters, poems, religious plays, prayers, and her last conversations were recorded by her sisters. Paintings and photographs, mostly the work of her sister Céline, further led to her being recognised by millions of men and women.

The depth of her spirituality, of which she said, “my way is all confidence and love,” has inspired many believers. In the face of her littleness and nothingness, she trusted in God to be her sanctity. She wanted to go to heaven by an entirely new little way. “I wanted to find an elevator that would raise me to Jesus.” The elevator, she wrote, would be the arms of Jesus lifting her in all her littleness. However, according to Guy Gaucher, one of her biographers after her death, “Thérèse fell victim to an excess of sentimental devotion which betrayed her. She was victim also to her language, which was that of the late nineteenth century and flowed from the religiosity of her age.”[3] Thérèse herself said on her death-bed, “I only love simplicity. I have a horror of pretence”, and she spoke out against some of the lives of saints written in her day, “We should not say improbable things, or things we do not know. We must see their real, and not their imagined lives.”[3]

Thérèse is well known throughout the world, with the Basilica of Lisieux being the second largest place of pilgrimage in France after Lourdes.[4]

Life

Family background

Marie-Françoise-Thérèse Martin was born in rue Saint-Blaise, Alençon, France, 2 January 1873, the daughter of Zélie Guérin, a lacemaker, and Louis Martin, a jeweler and watchmaker.[5] Both her parents were devout Catholics. Louis had tried to become a monk, wanting to enter the Augustinian Monastery of the Great St Bernard, but had been refused because he knew no Latin. Zélie, possessed of a strong, active temperament, wished to serve the sick, and had also considered becoming a religious, but the superior of the sisters of the Hôtel-Dieu, Alençon had discouraged her enquiry outright.[6] Disappointed, Zélie learned the trade of lacemaking. She excelled in it and set up her own business on rue Saint-Blaise at age 22.

Zélie Martin, mother of Thérèse. In June 1877 she left for Lourdes hoping to be cured, but the miracle did not happen..The Mother of God has not healed me because my time is up, and because God wills me to repose elsewhere than on the earth

Louis and Zélie met in 1858, and married on July 13, 1858. Both of great piety they were part of the petit-bourgeoisie, comfortable Alençon. At first they decided to live as brother and sister in a perpetual continence, but when a confessor discouraged them in this, they changed their lifestyle and had 9 children. From 1867 to 1870 they lost 3 infants and 5-and-a-half-year-old Hélène. All 5 of their surviving daughters became nuns:

  • Marie (22 February 1860, a Carmelite in Lisieux, in religion, Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart, d. 19 January 1940),
  • Pauline (7 September 1861, in religion, Mother Agnes of Jesus in the Lisieux Carmel, d. 28 July 1951),
  • Léonie (3 June 1863, in religion Sister Françoise-Thérèse, Visitandine at Caen, d. 16 June 1941),
  • Céline (28 April 1869, a Carmelite in Lisieux, in religion, Sister Geneviève of the Holy Face, d. 25 February 1959),
  • and finally Thérèse.

Zélie was so successful in manufacturing lace that by 1870 Louis had sold his watchmaking shop to a nephew and handled the traveling and bookkeeping end of her lacemaking business.

Birth and survival

Louis Martin, father of Thérèse. ” He was a dreamer and brooder, an idealist and romantic…To his daughters he gave touching and naïve pet names: Marie was his diamond, Pauline his noble pearl, Céline the bold one..But Thérèse was his petite reine, little queen, to whom all treasures belonged.”[7]

Soon after her birth in January 1873, the outlook for the survival of Thérèse Martin was very grim. Enteritis, which had already claimed the lives of four of her siblings, threatened Thérèse, and she had to be entrusted to a wet nurse, Rose Taillé, who had already nursed two of the Martin children. Rose had her own children and could not live with the Martins, so Thérèse was sent to live with her in the forests of the Bocage at Semallé. On Holy Thursday April 2, 1874, when she was 15 months old, she returned to Alençon where her family surrounded her with affection. She was educated in a very Catholic environment, including Mass attendance at 5:30 AM, the strict observance of fasts, and prayer to the rhythm of the liturgical year. The Martins also practiced charity, visiting the sick and elderly and welcoming the occasional vagabond to their table. Even if she wasn’t the model little girl her sisters later portrayed, Thérèse was very sensitive to this education. She played at being a nun. One day she went as far as to wish her mother would die; when scolded, she explained that she wanted the happiness of Paradise for her dear mother. Described as generally a happy child,[8] the mother’s humorous letters from this time provide a vivid picture of the baby Thérèse. In a letter to Pauline when Thérèse was three; ” She is intelligent enough, but not nearly so docile as her sister Céline. When she says no nothing can make her change, and she can be terribly obstinate. You could keep her down in the cellar all day without getting a yes out of her; she would rather sleep there.” Mischievous and impish, she gave joy to her family but she was emotional too, and often cried: “Céline is playing with the little one with some bricks… I have to correct poor baby who gets into frightful tantrums when she can’t have her own way. She rolls in the floor in despair believing all is lost. Sometimes she is so overcome she almost chokes. She is a very highly-strung child.” At 22, Thérèse, then a Carmelite, admitted: “I was far from being a perfect little girl.[9]

“I hear the baby calling me Mama! as she goes down the stairs. On every step, she calls out Mama! and if I don’t respond every time, she remains there without going either forward or back.” Madame Martin to Pauline, 21 November 1875

On 28 August 1877, Zélie Martin died of breast cancer, aged 45. From 1865 she had complained of breast pain and in December 1876 a doctor told her of the seriousness of the tumour. Feeling the approach of death Madame Martin had written to Pauline in spring 1877, “You and Marie will have no difficulties with her upbringing. Her disposition is so good. She is a chosen spirit.” Thérèse was barely 4 1/2 years old. Her mother’s death dealt her a severe blow and later she would consider that the first part of her life stopped that day. She wrote: “Every detail of my mother’s illness is still with me, specially her last weeks on earth.” She remembered the bedroom scene where her dying mother received the last sacraments while Thérèse knelt and her father cried. She wrote: “When Mummy died, my happy disposition changed. I had been so lively and open; now I became diffident and oversensitive, crying if anyone looked at me. I was only happy if no one took notice of me… It was only in the intimacy of my own family, where everyone was wonderfully kind, that I could be more myself.”[10][11]

Three months after Zélie died, Louis Martin left Alençon, where he had spent his youth and marriage, and moved to Lisieux in the Calvados Department of Normandy, where Zélie’s pharmacist brother Isidore Guérin lived with his wife and two daughters. In her last months Zélie had given up the lace business; after her death, Louis sold it. Louis leased a pretty, spacious country house, Les Buissonnets, situated in a large garden on the slope of a hill overlooking the town. Looking back, Thérèse would see the move to Les Buissonnets as the beginning of the “second period of my life, the most painful of the three: it extends from the age of four-and-a-half to fourteen, the time when I rediscovered my childhood character, and entered into the serious side of life.”[12] In Lisieux, Pauline took on the role of Thérèse’s Mama. She took this role seriously, and Thérèse grew especially close to her, and to Céline, the sister closest to her in youth.

Early years

Thérèse discovered the community life of school something for which she was unprepared. She wrote later that the five years of school were the saddest of her life and she found consolation only in the presence at the school of her dear Céline, Céline cherie (photo:Thérèse aged 8, 1881)

Thérèse was taught at home until she was eight and a half, and then entered the school kept by the Benedictine nuns of the Abbey of Notre Dame du Pre in Lisieux. Thérèse, taught well and carefully by Marie and Pauline, found herself at the top of the class, except for writing and arithmetic. However, because of her young age and high grades, she was bullied. The one who bullied her the most was a girl of fourteen who did poorly at school. Thérèse suffered very much as a result of her sensitivity, and she cried in silence. Furthermore, the boisterous games at recreation were not to her taste. She preferred to tell stories or look after the little ones in the infants class. ” The five years I spent at school were the saddest of my life, and if my dear Céline had not been with me I could not have stayed there for a single month without falling ill.” ‘She now developed a fondness for hiding’ Céline informs us[13] ‘she did not want to be observed, for she sincerely considered herself inferior.'”[14] On her free days she became more and more attached to Marie Guérin, the younger of her two cousins in Lisieux. The two girls would play at being anchorites, as the great Teresa had once played with her brother. And every evening she plunged into the family circle. “Fortunately I could go home every evening and then I cheered up. I used to jump on Father’s knee and tell him what marks I had had, and when he kissed me all my troubles were forgotten…I needed this sort of encouragement so much.” Yet the tension of the double life and the daily self-conquest placed a strain on Thérèse. Going to school became more and more difficult.

Les Buissonnets, The Martin family house in Lisieux to which they moved in November 1877 following the death of Madame Martin. Thérèse lived here from November 16, 1877 to April 9, 1888, the day she entered Carmel.

When she was nine years old, in October 1882, her sister Pauline who had acted as a “second mother” to her, entered the Carmelite monastery at Lisieux. Thérèse was devastated. She understood that Pauline was cloistered and that she would never come back. “I said in the depths of my heart: Pauline is lost to me!” The shock reawakened in her the trauma caused by her mother’s death. She also wanted to join the Carmelites, but was told she was too young. Yet Thérèse so impressed Mother Marie Gonzague, prioress at the time of Pauline’s entry to the community that she wrote to comfort her, calling Thérèse “my future little daughter.”

Illness

At this time, Thérèse was often sick; she began to suffer from nervous tremors. The tremors started one night after her uncle took her for a walk and began to talk about Zélie. Assuming that she was cold, the family covered Therese with blankets, but the tremors continued; she clenched her teeth and could not speak. The family called Dr. Notta, who could make no diagnosis.[15] In 1882, Dr Gayral diagnosed that Thérèse “reacts to an emotional frustration with a neurotic attack.[16] An alarmed, but cloistered, Pauline began to write letters to Thérèse and attempted various strategies to intervene. Eventually Thérèse recovered after she had turned to gaze at the statue of the Virgin Mary placed in Marie’s room, where Thérèse had been moved.[17] She reported on 13 May 1883 that she had seen the Virgin smile at her.[18][19] She wrote: “Our Blessed Lady has come to me, she has smiled upon me. How happy I am.”[20] However, when Thérèse told the Carmelite nuns about this vision at the request of her eldest sister Marie, she found herself assailed by their questions and she lost confidence. Self doubt made her begin to question what had happened. “I thought I had lied – I was unable to look upon myself without a feeling of profound horror.”[21] “For a long time after my cure,I thought that my sickness was deliberate and this was a real martyrdom for my soul.” [22] Her concerns over this continued until November 1887.

In October 1886 her oldest sister, Marie, entered the same Carmelite monastery, adding to Thérèse’s grief. The warm atmosphere at Les Buissonnets, so necessary to her, was disappearing. Now only she and Céline remained with their father. Her frequent tears made some friends think she had a weak character and the Guérins indeed shared this opinion.

Thérèse also suffered from scruples, a condition experienced by other saints such as Alphonsus Liguori, also a Doctor of the Church and Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. She wrote: “One would have to pass through this martyrdom to understand it well, and for me to express what I experienced for a year and a half would be impossible.”[23]

Thérèse in 1886, age 13. “It would certainly be unfair to call Thérèse of Lisieux limited, narrow. She was very alert and intelligent, and could certainly have gone to university today, passing all examinations with flying colours. But her horizon was limited – she was quite definitely a vertical person, could only grow skywards and into the depths – no breadth.” (Ida Gorres, Diaries 1955-57 )

Complete conversion: Christmas 1886

Christmas Eve 1886 was a turning point in the life of Therese; she called it her “complete conversion.” Years later she stated that on that night she overcame the pressures she had faced since the death of her mother and said that “God worked a little miracle to make me grow up in an instant.” “On that blessed night … Jesus, who saw fit to make Himself a child out of love for me, saw fit to have me come forth from the swaddling clothes and imperfections of childhood.”[24]

On Christmas Eve 1886, Louis Martin and his daughters, Léonie, Céline and Thérèse, had attended the midnight mass at the cathedral in Lisieux – “but there was very little heart left in them. On 1 December Léonie, covered in eczema and hiding her hair under a short mantilla, had returned to Les Buissonnets after just seven weeks of the Poor Clares regime in Alençon”, and her sisters were helping her get over her sense of failure and humiliation. Back at Les Buissonnets as every year, Thérèse ” as was the custom for French children, had left her shoes on the hearth, empty in anticipation of gifts, not from Father Christmas but from the Child Jesus, who was imagined to travel through the air bearing toys and cakes.” [25] While she was going up the stairs she heard her father, “perhaps exhausted by the hour, or this reminder of the relentless emotional demands of his weepy youngest daughter”, say to Céline, “Well, fortunately this will be the last year!” Thérèse had begun to cry and Céline advised her not to go back downstairs immediately. Then, suddenly, Thérèse pulled herself together and wiped her tears. She ran down the stairs, knelt by the fireplace and unwrapped her surprises as jubilantly as ever. In her account, nine years later, of 1895 : “In an instant Jesus, content with my good will, accomplished the work I had not been able to do in ten years.” After nine sad years she had “recovered the strength of soul she had lost when her mother died and, she said, she was to retain it forever.” She discovered the joy in self-forgetfulness and added ; “I felt, in a word, charity enter my heart, the need to forget myself to make others happy – Since this blessed night I was not defeated in any battle, but instead I went from victory to victory and began, so to speak, “to run a giant’s course.” (Psalms 19:5) “

“Thérèse instantly understood what had happened to her when she won this banal little victory over her sensitivity, which she had borne for so long… she had been vouchsafed a freedom which all her efforts had been unable to win. A long, painful period of growth lasting almost ten years was now over; …freedom is found in resolutely looking away from oneself.. and the fact that a person can cast himself away from himself reveals again that being good, victory is pure grace, a sudden gift..It cannot be coerced, and yet it can be received only by the patiently prepared heart.” [26] Biographer Kathryn Harrison : “After all , in the past she had tried to control herself, had tried with all her being and had failed. Grace, alchemy, masochism: through whatever lens we view her transport, Thérèse’s night of illumination presented both its power and its danger. It would guide her steps between the mortal and the divine, between living and dying, destruction and apotheosis. It would take her exactly where she intended to go.”

The character of the saint and the early forces that shaped her personality have been the subject of analysis, particularly in recent years. Apart from the family doctor who observed her in the 19th century, all other conclusions are inevitably speculative. For instance, author Ida Friederike Görres whose formal studies had focused on church history and hagiography wrote a book that performed a psychological analysis of the saint’s character. Some authors suggest that Thérèse had a strongly neurotic aspect to her personality for most of her life.[27][28][29][30] A recent biographer, Kathryn Harrison, concluded that, ” her temperament was not formed for compromise or moderation…a life spent not taming but directing her appetite and her will, a life perhaps shortened by the force of her desire and ambition.” [31]

Imitation of Christ, Rome, and entry to Carmel

15th century manuscript of The Imitation of Christ, Royal library, Brussels.

Before she was fourteen, when she started to experience a period of calm, Thérèse started to read The Imitation of Christ. She read the Imitation intently, as if the author traced each sentence for her: “The Kingdom of God is within you… Turn thee with thy whole heart unto the Lord; and forsake this wretched world: and thy soul shall find rest.”[32] She kept the book with her constantly and wrote later that this book and parts of another book of a very different character, lectures by Abbé Arminjon on The End of This World, and the Mysteries of the World to Come, nourished her during this critical period.[33] Thereafter she began to read other books, mostly on history and science.[18]

In May 1887, Thérèse approached her 63-year old father Louis, who was recovering from a small stroke, while he sat in the garden one Sunday afternoon and told him that she wanted to celebrate the anniversary of “her conversion” by entering Carmel before Christmas. Louis and Thérèse both broke down and cried, but Louis got up, gently picked a little white flower, root intact, and gave it to her, explaining the care with which God brought it into being and preserved it until that day. Thérèse later wrote: “while I listened I believed I was hearing my own story.” To Therese, the flower seemed a symbol of herself, “destined to live in another soil”. Thérèse then renewed her attempts to join the Carmel, but the priest-superior of the monastery would not allow it on account of her youth.

Thérèse at age 15 – For her journey to Mgr Hugonin, Bishop of Bayeux, to seek permission to enter Carmel at Christmas 1887 Thérèse had put up her hair for the first time, a symbol for being “grown-up.” A photograph taken in April 1888 shows a fresh, firm, girlish face..The familiar flowing locks are combed sternly back and up, piled in a hard little chignon on the top of her head…her face, vigorous, tensed, concentrated around an invisible core almost tough in its astonishing poise, with a resolute, straight mouth, stubborn chin; but this impression of toughness is contradicted by eyes full of profound life, clear and filled with a secret humour’[34]

During the summer, French newspapers were filled with the story of Henri Pranzini, convicted of the brutal murder of two women and a child. To the outraged public Pranzini represented all that threatened the decent way of life in France. In July and August 1887 Thérèse prayed hard for the conversion of Pranzini, so his soul could be saved, yet Pranzini showed no remorse. At the end of August, the newspapers reported that just as Pranzini’s neck was placed on the guillotine, he had grabbed a crucifix and kissed it three times. Thérèse was ecstatic and believed that her prayers had saved him. She continued to pray for Pranzini after his death.[35]

Leo XIII – In November 1887 when Thérèse met him, an old man of seventy-seven. ‘Thérèse Martin knelt down, kissed the Pope’s slipper, but, instead of kissing his hand said Most Holy Father, I have a great favour to ask of you.. Later, that evening, she wrote to Pauline – ” the Pope is so old that you would think he is dead.”

In November 1887, Louis took Céline and Thérèse on a diocesan pilgrimage to Rome for the priestly jubilee of Pope Leo XIII. The cost of the trip enforced a strict selection, a quarter of the pilgrims belonged to the nobility. The birth, in 1871, of the French Third Republic had marked a decline of the conservative right’s power. Forced onto the defensive, the royalist bourgeoisie perceived a strong Church as an important means of safeguarding France’s integrity and its future. The rise of a militant nationalist Catholicism, a trend that would, in 1894, result in the anti-Semitic scapegoating and trumped-up treason conviction of Alfred Dreyfus was a development that Thérèse did not at all perceive. Still a sheltered child, Thérèse lived in ignorance of political events and motivations.[36] She did notice however, the ‘social ambition and vanity’. “Céline and I found ourselves mixing with members of the aristocracy; but we were not impressed..the words of the Imitation , ‘do not be solicitous for the shadow of a great name’, were not lost on me, and I realised that real nobility is in the soul, not in a name.[37] The youngest in the pilgrimage, bright and pretty, Thérèse did not go unnoticed. In Bologna a student boldly jostled against her on purpose. Visits followed one after another: Milan, Venice, Loreto; finally the arrival in Rome. On November 20, 1887, during a general audience with Leo XIII, Thérèse, in her turn, approached the Pope, knelt, and asked him to allow her to enter Carmel at 15. The Pope said: “Well, my child, do what the superiors decide…. You will enter if it is God’s Will” and he blessed Thérèse. She refused to leave his feet, and the Swiss Guard had to carry her out of the room.[38]

The trip continued: they visited Pompeii, Naples, Assisi; then it was back via Pisa and Genoa. The pilgrimage of nearly a month came at a timely point for her burgeoning personality. She learnt more than in many years of study. For the first and last time in her life, she left her native Normandy. Notably she, “who only knew priests in the exercise of their ministry was in their company, heard their conversations, not always edifying – and saw their shortcomings for herself.” [39] She had understood that she had to pray and give her life for sinners like Pranzini. But Carmel prayed especially for priests and this had surprised her since their souls seemed to her to be as pure as crystal. A month spent with many priests taught her that they are weak and feeble men. She wrote later: “I met many saintly priests that month, but I also found that in spite of being above angels by their supreme dignity, they were none the less men and still subject to human weakness. If the holy priests, ‘the salt of the earth’, as Jesus calls them in the Gospel, have to be prayed for, what about the lukewarm? Again, as Jesus says, ‘If the salt shall lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted?’ I understood my vocation in Italy.” For the first time too she had associated with young men. “In her brotherless existence, masculinity had been represented only by her father, her Uncle Guérin and various priests. Now she had her first and only experiences – troublesome and tempting ones. Céline declared at the beatification proceedings that one of the young men in the pilgrimage group fell in love with Thérèse (“developed a tender affection for her”). Thérèse confessed to her sister, ” It is high time for Jesus to remove me from the poisonous breath of the world…I feel that my heart is easily caught by tenderness, and where others fall, I would fall too. We are no stronger than the others.” [40]

Soon after that, the Bishop of Bayeux authorized the prioress to receive Thérèse, and on 9 April 1888 she became a Carmelite postulant.

In 1889, her father suffered a stroke and was taken to a private sanatorium, the Bon Sauveur at Caen, where he remained for three years before returning to Lisieux in 1892. He died on 29 July 1894. Upon his death, Céline, who had been caring for him, entered the same Carmel as her three sisters on 14 September 1894; their cousin, Marie Guérin, entered on 15 August 1895. Léonie, after several attempts, became Sister Françoise-Thérèse, a nun in the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary at Caen, where she died in 1941.[41]

The Little Flower in Carmel

The monastery Thérèse entered was not an old-established house with a great tradition. In 1838 two nuns from the Poitiers Carmel had been sent out to found the house of Lisieux. One of them Mother Geneviève of St Teresa, was still living when Thérèse entered…the second wing, containing the cells and sickrooms in which she was to live and die, had been standing only ten years.. ” What she found was a community of very aged nuns, some odd and cranky, some sick and troubled, some lukewarm and complacent. Almost all of the sisters came from the petty bourgeois and artisan class. The Prioress and Novice Mistress were of old Norman nobility. Probably the Martin sisters alone represented the new class of the rising bourgeoisie.” The Hidden Face p.193-195, Ida Gorres

Lisieux Carmel in 1888

The Carmelite order had been reformed in the sixteenth century by Teresa of Avila, essentially devoted to personal and collective prayer. The times of silence and of solitude were many but the foundress had also planned for time for work and relaxation in common – the austerity of the life should not hinder sisterly and joyful relations. Founded in 1838, the Carmel of Lisieux in 1888 had 26 religious, from very different classes and backgrounds. For the majority of the life of Thérèse, the prioress would be Mother Marie de Gonzague, born Marie-Adéle-Rosalie Davy de Virville. When Thérèse entered the convent Mother Marie was 54, a woman of changeable humour, jealous of her authority, used sometimes in a capricious manner; this had for effect, a certain laxity in the observance of established rules. “In the sixties and seventies of the [nineteenth] century an aristocrat in the flesh counted for far more in a petty bourgeois convent than we can realize nowadays..the superiors appointed Marie de Gonzague to the highest offices as soon as her novitiate was finished…in 1874 began the long series of terms as Prioress.” [42]

Postulant

Thérèse’s time as a postulant began with her welcome into the Carmel, Monday 9 April 1888, the Feast of the Annunciation. She felt peace after she received communion that day and later wrote: “At last my desires were realized, and I cannot describe the deep sweet peace which filled my soul. This peace has remained with me during the eight and a half years of my life here, and has never left me even amid the greatest trials.”[43] From her childhood, Thérèse had dreamed of the desert to which God would some day lead her. Now she had entered that desert. Though she was now reunited with Marie and Pauline, from the first day she began her struggle to win and keep her distance from her sisters. Right at the start Marie de Gonzague, the prioress, had turned the postulant Thérèse over to her eldest sister Marie, who was to teach her to follow the Divine Office. Later she appointed Thérèse assistant to Pauline in the refectory. And when her cousin Marie Guerin also entered, she employed the two together in the sacristy. Thérèse adhered strictly to the rule which forbade all superfluous talk during work. She saw her sisters together only in the hours of common recreation after meals. At such times she would sit down beside whomever she happened to be near, or beside a nun whom she had observed to be downcast, disregarding the tacit and sometimes expressed sensitivity and even jealousy of her biological sisters. “We must apologize to the others for our being four under one roof,” she was in the habit of remarking. “When I am dead, you must be very careful not to lead a family life with one another…I did not come to Carmel to be with my sisters; on the contrary, I saw clearly that their presence would cost me dear, for I was determined not to give way to nature.

Though the novice mistress, Sr. Marie of the Angels, (Jeanne de Charmontel ), found Thérèse slow, the young postulant adapted well to her new environment. She wrote :”Illusions, the Good Lord gave me the grace to have none on entering Carmel:I found religious life as I had figured, no sacrifice astonished me.” She sought above all to conform to the rules and customs of the Carmelites that she learnt each day with her four religious of the novitiate. (Sr Marie of the Angels, 43, Sister Marie-Philomene, 48, ‘very holy, very limited’; Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart, her oldest sister and godmother; Sister Marthe of Jesus, 23, an orphan, ‘a poor little unintelligent sister’ according to Pauline). Later, when Thérèse had become assistant to the novice mistress she repeated how important respect for the Rule was: “When any break the rule, this is not a reason to justify ourselves. Each must act as if the perfection of the Order depended on her personal conduct.” She also affirmed the essential role of obedience in religious life: “When you stop watching the infallible compass [of obedience], as quickly the mind wanders in arid lands where the water of grace is soon lacking.” She chose a spiritual director, a Jesuit, Father Pichon. At their first meeting, 28 May 1888, she made a general confession going back over all her past sins. She came away from it profoundly relieved. The priest who had himself suffered from scruples, understood her and reassured her.[44] A few months later, he left for Canada, and Thérèse would only be able to ask his advice by letter and his replies were rare. (On 4 July 1897, she confided to Pauline, ‘Father Pichon treated me too much like a child; nonetheless he did me a lot of good too by saying that I never committed a mortal sin.’) During her time as postulant Thérèse had to endure some bullying from other sisters because of her lack of aptitude for handicrafts and manual work. Sister St Vincent de Paul, the finest embroideress in the community made her feel awkward and even called her ‘the big nanny goat’. Thérèse was in fact the tallest in the family, 1.62 metres {approx. 5’3}- Pauline, the shortest, no more than 1.54m tall {approx.5’0}. During her last visit to Trouville at the end of June 1887, Thérèse was called, with her long blond hair, ‘the tall English girl.’ ) Like all religious she discovered the ups and downs related to differences in temperament, character, problems of sensitivities or infirmities. After nine years she wrote plainly : ” the lack of judgment, education, the touchiness of some characters, all these things do not make life very pleasant. I know very well that these moral weaknesses are chronic, that there is no hope of cure.” But the greatest suffering came from outside Carmel. On June 23, 1888 Louis Martin disappeared from his home and was found days later, in the post office in Le Havre. The incident marked the onset of her father’s steep physical and mental decline.

Novice (10 January 1889 – 24 September 1890)

Certain passages from the prophet Isaiah (Chapter53) helped her during her long novitiate..Six weeks before her death she remarked to Pauline : “The words in Isaiah: No stateliness here, no majesty, no beauty, as we gaze upon him, to win our hearts. Nay, here is one despised, left out of all human reckoning; how should we recognize that face? – these words were the basis of my whole worship of the Holy Face…I too, wanted to be without comeliness and beauty, unknown to all creatures. (Photograph: fragment of Isaiah found amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls)[45]

The end of Thérèse’s time as a postulant arrived on the 10 January 1889 with her taking of the habit. From that time she wore the ‘rough homespun and brown scapular, white wimple and veil, leather belt with rosary, woollen ‘stockings’, rope sandals. ” [46] Her father’s health having temporarily stabilised he was able to attend, though twelve days after her ceremony a particularly serious crisis led to his being put in the asylum of the Bon Sauveur in Caen where he would remain for three years. In this period Thérèse deepened the sense of her vocation; to lead a hidden life, to pray and offer her suffering for priests, to forget herself, to increase discreet acts of charity. She wrote, ‘I applied myself especially to practice little virtues, not having the facility to perform great ones.’ “In her letters from this period of her novitiate, Thérèse returned over and over to the theme of littleness, referring to herself as a grain of sand, an image she borrowed from Pauline..’Always littler, lighter, in order to be lifted more easily by the breeze of love.’ The remainder of her life would be defined by retreat and subtraction.” [47] She absorbed the work of John of the Cross, spiritual reading uncommon at the time, especially for such a young nun. “Oh! what insights I have gained from the works of our holy father, St John of the Cross! When I was seventeen and eighteen, I had no other spiritual nourishment..” She felt a kinship with this classic writer of the Carmelite Order (though nothing seems to have drawn her to the writing of Teresa of Avila), – and with enthusiasm she read his works, The Ascent of Mount Carmel, the Way of Purification, the Spiritual Canticle, the Living Flame of Love. Passages from these writings are woven into everything she herself said and wrote.[48] The fear of God, which she found in certain sisters, paralysed her. “My nature is such that fear makes me recoil, with LOVE not only do I go forward, I fly[49]

With the new name a Carmelite receives when she enters the Order there is always an epithet : Teresa of Jesus, Elizabeth of the Trinity, Anne of the Angels. The epithet singles out the Mystery which she is supposed to contemplate with special devotion. “Thérèse’s names in religion – she had two of them – must be taken together to define her religious significance.” [50] The first name was promised to her at nine, by Mother Marie de Gonzague, of the Child Jesus, and was given to her at her entry into the convent. In itself, veneration of the childhood of Jesus was a Carmelite heritage of the seventeenth century – it concentrated upon the staggering humiliation of divine majesty in assuming the shape of extreme weakness and helplessness. The French Oratory of Jesus and Pierre de Bérulle renewed this old devotional practice. Yet when she received the veil, Thérèse herself asked Mother Marie de Gonzague to confer upon her the second name; of the Holy Face. During the course of her novitiate, contemplation of the Holy Face had nourished her inner life. This is an image representing the disfigured face of Jesus during His Passion. And she meditated on certain pasages from the prophet Isaiah, (Chapter 53). Six weeks before her death she remarked to Pauline :”The words in Isaiah: ‘no stateliness here, no majesty, no beauty,..one despised, left out of all human reckoning; How should we take any account of him, a man so despised (Is 53:2-3) – these words were the basis of my whole worship of the Holy Face ..I, too, wanted to be without comeliness and beauty..unknown to all creatures.” [51] On the eve of her profession she wrote to Sister Marie; Tomorrow I shall be the bride of Jesus ‘whose face was hidden and whom no man knew’ – what a union and what a future!.[52] The meditation also helped her understand the humiliating situation of her father.

Usually the novitiate preceding profession lasted a year. Sister Thérèse hoped to make her final commitment on or after 11 January 1890 – but, considered still too young for a final commitment, her profession was postponed; she would spend eight months longer than the standard year as an unprofessed novice. As 1889 ended, her old home in the world Les Buissonnets, was dismantled, the furniture divided among the Guérins and the Carmel. It was not until September 8, 1890, aged 17 and a half, that she made her religious profession. The retreat in anticipation of her irrevocable promises was characterized by absolute aridity and on the eve of her profession she gave way to panic. “What she wanted was beyond her. Her vocation was a sham.” [53] Reassured by the novice mistress and mother Marie de Gonzague, the next day her religious profession went ahead, ‘flooded with a river of peace’. Against her heart she wore her letter of profession written during her retreat. ” May creatures be nothing for me, and may I be nothing for them, but may You, Jesus, be everything!..let nobody be occupied with me, let me be looked upon as one to be trampled underfoot..may Your will be done in me perfectly..Jesus, allow me to save very many souls; let no soul be lost today; let all the souls in purgatory be saved..” On September 24, the public ceremony followed – filled with ‘sadness and bitterness’. “Thérèse found herself young enough, alone enough, to weep over the absence of Bishop Hugonin, Père Pichon, in Canada; and her own father, still confined in the asylum.” [54] But Mother Marie de Gonzague wrote to the prioress of Tours : “The angelic child is seventeen and a half, with the sense of a 30 year old, the religious perfection of an old and accomplished novice, and possession of herself; she is a perfect nun.”

The Discreet life of a Carmelite – (September 1890 – February 1893)

The years which followed were those of a maturation of her vocation. Thérèse prayed without great sensitive emotions, she multiplied the small acts of charity and care for others, doing small services, without making a show of them. She accepted criticism in silence, even unjust criticisms, and smiled at the sisters who were unpleasant to her. She prayed always much for priests, and in particular for Father Hyacinthe Loyson, a famous preacher who had been a Sulpician and a Dominican novice before becoming a Carmelite and provincial of his order, but who had left the Catholic Church in 1869. Three years later he married a young widow, a Protestant, with whom he had a son. After major excommunication had been pronounced against him, he continued to travel round France giving lectures. While clerical papers called Loyson a renegade monk and Leon Bloy lampooned him, Thérèse prayed for her brother. She offered her last communion, 19 August 1897, for Father Hyacinthe.

The chaplain of the Carmel, Father Youf insisted a lot on the fear of Hell. The preachers of spiritual retreats at that time did not refrain from stressing sin, the sufferings of purgatory, and those of hell. This did not help Thérèse who in 1891 experienced, great inner trials of all kinds, even wondering sometimes whether heaven existed. One phrase heard during a sermon made her weep : “No one knows if they are worthy of love or of hate.” But the retreat of October 1891 was preached by Father Alexis Prou, a Franciscan from Saint-Nazaire. ” He specialised in large crowds ( he preached in factories) and did not seem the right person to help Carmelites. Just one of them found comfort from him : Sister Thèrèse of the Child Jesus..[his] preaching on abandonment and mercy expanded her heart.” [55] This confirmed Thérèse in her own intuitions. She wrote :” My soul was like a book which the priest read better than I did. He launched me full sail on the waves of confidence and love which held such an attraction for me, but upon which I had not dared to venture. He told me that my faults did not offend God.” Her spiritual life drew more and more on the Gospels that she carried with her at all times. The piety of her time was fed more on commentaries, but Thérèse had asked Céline to get the Gospels and the Epistles of St Paul bound into a single small volume which she could carry on her heart. it is especially the Gospels which sustain me during my hours of prayer…I am always gaining fresh insights and finding hidden and mysterious meanings.

More and more Thérèse realised that she felt no attraction to the exalted heights of great souls. She looked directly for the word of Jesus, which shed light on her prayers and on her daily life. Thérèse’s retreat in October 1892 pointed out to her a downward path. If asked where she lived, she reflected, must not she be able to answer with Christ : The foxes have their lairs, the birds of heaven their nests, but I have no place to rest my head. (Matthew 8:20). She wrote to Céline, (letter October 19, 1892): “Jesus..raised us above all the fragile things of this world whose image passes away. Like Zacchaeus, we climbed a tree to see Jesus…and now..Let us listen to what he is saying to us : Make haste to descend, I must lodge today at your house. Well, Jesus tells us to descend?” ‘A question here of the interior,’ she qualified in her letter, lest Céline think she meant renouncing food or shelter. “Thérèse knew her virtues, even her love, to be flawed: flawed by self, a mirror too clouded to reflect the divine.” She continued to seek to discover the means, ‘to more efficiently strip herself of self..’ [56]No doubt, [our hearts] are already empty of creatures, but, alas, I feel mine is not entirely empty of myself, and it is for this reason that Jesus tells me to descend..[57]

Election of Mother Agnes

On February 20, 1893 Pauline was elected prioress of Carmel and became Mother Agnes. Pauline appointed the former prioress novice mistress and made Thérèse her assistant. The work of guiding the novices would fall primarily to Thérèse. Over the next few years she revealed a talent for clarifying doctrine to those who had not received as much education as she. A kaleidoscope, whose three mirrors transform scraps of coloured paper into beautiful designs, provided an inspired illustration for the Holy Trinity. “As long as our actions, even the smallest, do not fall away from the focus of Divine Love, the Holy Trinity, symbolized by the three mirrors, allows them to reflect wonderful beauty. Jesus, who regards us through the little lens, that is to say, through Himself, always sees beauty in everything we do. But if we left the focus of inexpressible love, what would He see? Bits of straw..dirty, worthless actions.” [58] “Another cherished image was that of the newly invented elevator, a vehicle Thérèse used many times over to describe God’s grace, a force that lifts us to heights we can’t reach on our own.” [59] Her sister Céline’s memoir is filled with numerous examples of the teacher Thérèse: “Céline: – ‘Oh! When I think how much I have to acquire!’ Thérèse: – ‘Rather, how much you have to lose! Jesus Himself will fill your soul with treasures in the same measure that you move your imperfections out of the way..’ And Céline recalled a story Thérèse told about egotism. ‘The 28 month old Thérèse visited Le Mans and was given a basket filled with candies, at the top of which were two sugar rings..’Oh! How wonderful! There is a sugar ring for Céline too!’ On her way to the station however the basket overturned, and one of the sugar rings disappeared. ‘Ah, I no longer have any sugar ring for poor Céline!’ Reminding me of the incident she observed; ‘See how deeply rooted in us is this self-love! Why was it Céline’s sugar ring, and not mine, that was lost?’ [60] Martha of Jesus, a novice who spent her childhood in a series of orphanages and who was described by all as emotionally unbalanced, with a violent temper, gave witness during the beatification process of the ‘unusual dedication and presence of her young teacher. “Thérèse deliberately ‘sought out the company of those nuns whose temperaments she found hardest to bear.’ What merit was there in acting charitably toward people whom one loved naturally? Thérèse went out of her way to spend time with, and therefore to love, the people she found repellent. It was an effective means of achieving interior poverty, a way to remove a place to rest her head.” [61]

In September 1893, Thérèse, having been a professed novice for the standard three years, asked not to be promoted but to continue a novice indefinitely. As a novice she would always have to ask permission of the other, full sisters: she would never be elected to any position of importance. Remaining closely associated with the other novices, she could continue to care for her spiritual charges.

The nineteenth century rediscovered Joan of Arc. In 1841 Jules Michelet devoted the major part of the fifth volume of his History of France to a favourable presentation of the epic of the Maid of Orleans and Felix Dupanloup worked relentlessly for the glorification of Joan who on May 8, 1429 had liberated Orléans, the city of which he became bishop in 1849…Thérèse wrote two plays in honour of her childhood heroine, the first about Joan’s response to the heavenly voices calling her to battle, the second about her resulting martyrdom.

The year 1894 brought a national celebration of Joan of Arc. On January 27 Leo XIII authorized the introduction of her cause of beatification, declaring Joan, the shepherdess from Lorraine ‘venerable’. Thérèse used Henri Wallon’s history of Joan of Arc – a book her uncle Isidore had given to the Carmel – to help her write two plays, ‘pious recreations’, “small theatrical pieces performed by a few nuns for the rest of the community, on the occasion of certain feast days.” The first of these, The Mission of Joan of Arc was performed at the Carmel on January 21, 1894, and the second Joan of Arc Accomplishes her Mission on January 21, 1895. In the estimation of one of her biographers, Ida Görres, they “are scarcely veiled self-portraits.” [62]

On July 29, 1894 Louis Martin died. Sick, he had been cared for by Céline. Following his death, and supported by Thérèse’s letters and the advice of her other sisters, she entered the Lisieux convent on 14 September 1894. With Mother Agnes’ permission, she brought her camera to Carmel, and developing materials . “The indulgence was not by any means usual. Also outside of the normal would be the destiny of those photographs Céline would make in the Carmel, images that would be scrutinized and reproduced too many times to count. Even when the images are poorly reproduced, her eyes arrest us .Described as blue, described as gray, they look darker in photographs..Céline’s pictures of her sister contributed to the extraordinary cult of personality that formed in the years after Thérèses death.” [63]

At the end of December 1894 and perhaps prompted by their fear that she was dying, her older sisters requested that Thérèse write about her childhood.

The discovery of the little way

Thérèse entered the Carmel of Lisieux with the determination to become a saint. But, by the end of 1894, six full calendar years as a Carmelite made her realize how small and insignificant she was. She saw the limitations of all her efforts. She remained small and very far off from the unfailing love that she would wish to practice. She understood then that it was on this very littleness that she must lean to ask God’s help. Along with her camera, Céline had brought notebooks with her, passages from the Old Testament, which Thérèse did not have in Carmel. (The Louvain Bible, the translation authorized for French Catholics, did not include an Old Testament). In the notebooks Thérèse found a passage from Proverbs that struck her with particular force. If anyone is a very little one, let him come to me. (Proverbs,9,4) And, from the book of Isaiah (66:12-13), she was profoundly struck by another passage: As a mother caresses her child, so I shall console you, I shall carry you at my breast and I shall swing you on my knees. She concluded that Jesus would carry her to the summit of sanctity. The smallness of Thérèse, her limits, became in this way grounds for joy, more than discouragement. It is only in Manuscript C of her autobiography that she gave to this discovery the name of little way, petite voie. Echoes of this way however are heard throughout her work. From February 1895 she would regularly sign her letters by adding very little, toute petite, in front of her name. According to the writer Ida Gorres, however, this language should always be measured against the ‘unfailing, iron self-conquest of her whole life.’ “We know how intensely her life was given to the performance of duty, to the pursuit of good works, to the cultivation of all the virtues…[yet] she rejected all ascetic efforts which were directed not towards God but toward ones own perfection. It was on this view then, that she based her extraordinary refusal to consider her daily faults important.. because of her lack of illusions in her view of human beings, she assigned to these things, no more significance than they deserved.” ” I have long believed that the Lord is more tender than a mother. I know that a mother is always ready to forgive trivial, involuntary misbehaviour on the part of her child..Children are always giving trouble, falling down, getting themselves dirty, breaking things – but all this does not shake their parents love for them.[64]

Offering to merciful love

At the end of the second play that Thérèse had written on Joan of Arc the costume she wore almost caught fire. The alcohol stoves used to represent the stake at Rouen set fire to the screen behind which Thérèse stood. Thérèse did not flinch but the incident marked her. The theme of fire would assume an increasingly great place in her writings.[65] On June 9, 1895, during a mass celebrating the feast of the Holy Trinity, Thérèse had a sudden inspiration that she must offer herself as a sacrificial victim to merciful love. At this time some nuns offered themselves as a victim to God’s justice. In her cell she drew up an ‘Act of Oblation’ for herself and for Céline, and on June 11, the two of them knelt before the miraculous Virgin and Thérèse read the document she had written and signed. In the evening of this life, I shall appear before You with empty hands, for I do not ask you lord to count my works.. According to biographer Ida Gorres the document echoed the happiness she had felt when Father Alexis Prou, the Franciscan preacher, had assured her that her faults did not cause God sorrow. In the Oblation she wrote : “If through weakness I should chance to fall, may a glance from Your Eyes straightway cleanse my soul, and consume all my imperfections-as fire transforms all things into itself.

In August 1895 the four Martin sisters were joined by their cousin, Marie Guerin, in religion, Sister Marie of the Eucharist. In October 1895 a young seminarian and subdeacon of the White Fathers, Abbé Bellière, asked the Carmel of Lisieux for a nun who would support – by prayer and sacrifice – his missionary work, and the souls that were in the future to be entrusted to him.[66] Mother Agnes designated Thérèse. She never met Father Bellière but ten letters passed between them.

In 1896 Father Adolphe Roulland of the Society of Foreign Missions asked the Carmel of Lisieux for a spiritual sister. Thérèse was assigned the duties – she answered questions, consoled, warned, and instructed the priest in the meaning of her little way. As everywhere in her doctrine it is based on the scriptures :”I rejoice in my littleness, because only little children and those who are like them shall be admitted to the Heavenly Banquet.” Letter to Père Roulland,, 9 May 1897

A year later Father Adolphe Roulland (1870–1934) of the Society of Foreign Missions requested the same service of the Lisieux Carmel. Once more Thérèse was assigned the duties of spiritual sister. “It is quite clear that Thérèse, in spite of all her reverence for the priestly office, in both cases felt herself to be the teacher and the giver. It is she who who consoles and warns, encourages and praises, answers questions, offers corroboration, and instructs the priests in the meaning of her little way. ” [67]

The final years, disease and night of faith

Thérèse’s final years were marked by a steady decline that she bore resolutely and without complaint. Tuberculosis was the key element of Thérèse’s final suffering, but she saw that as part of her spiritual journey. After observing a rigorous Lenten fast in 1896, she went to bed on the eve of Good Friday and felt a joyous sensation. She wrote: “Oh! how sweet this memory really is!… I had scarcely laid my head upon the pillow when I felt something like a bubbling stream mounting to my lips. I didn’t know what it was.”

St Thérèse working with other Carmelite nuns, from left to right, Sr. Marie of the Trinity, Sr. Thérèse, Sr. Geneviève (Céline), and Sr. Martha of Jesus. 1895, sometime before the end of July.[68]

The next morning she found blood on her handkerchief and understood her fate. Coughing up of blood meant tuberculosis, and tuberculosis meant death.[69] She wrote:

“I thought immediately of the joyful thing that I had to learn, so I went over to the window. I was able to see that I was not mistaken. Ah! my soul was filled with a great consolation; I was interiorly persuaded that Jesus, on the anniversary of His own death, wanted to have me hear His first call!”

Thérèse corresponded with a Carmelite mission in what was then French Indochina and was invited to join them, but, because of her sickness, could not travel.

As a result of Tuberculosis, Thérèse suffered terribly. When she was near death “Her physical suffering kept increasing so that even the doctor himself was driven to exclaim, ‘Ah! If you only knew what this young nun was suffering!’”[70] During the last hours of Therese’s life, she said, “‘I would never have believed it was possible to suffer so much, never, never!”[71]

In July 1897, she made a final move to the monastery infirmary. On August 19, 1897, Therese received her last communion. She died on 30 September 1897 at the young age of 24. On her death-bed, she is reported to have said:”I have reached the point of not being able to suffer any more, because all suffering is sweet to me.”

Her last words were, “My God, I love you!”

Thérèse was buried on October 4, 1897 in the Carmelite plot in the municipal cemetery at Lisieux, where Louis and Zelie had been buried. In March 1923, however, before she was beatified, her body was returned to the Carmel of Lisieux, where it remains.

Spiritual legacy

At fourteen, Thérèse had understood her vocation to pray for priests, to be “an apostle to apostles.” In September 1890, at her canonical examination before she professed her religious vows, she was asked why she had come to Carmel. She answered “I came to save souls, and especially to pray for priests.” Throughout her life she prayed fervently for priests, and she corresponded with and prayed for a young priest, Adolphe Roulland, and a young seminarian, Maurice Bellière. She wrote to her sister “Our mission as Carmelites is to form evangelical workers who will save thousands of souls whose mothers we shall be.”[2]

Thérèse was devoted to Eucharistic meditation and on February 26, 1895 shortly before she died wrote from memory and without a rough draft her poetic masterpiece “To Live by Love” which had composed during Eucharistic meditation. During her life, the poem was sent to various religious communities and was included in a notebook of her poems.[72][73]

The Child Jesus and the Holy Face

A depiction of the Holy Face of Jesus as Veronica’s veil, by Claude Mellan c. 1649. St. Thérèse wore an image of the Holy Face on her heart.

Thérèse entered the Carmelite order on 9 April 1888. On 10 January 1889, after a probationary period somewhat longer than the usual, she was given the habit and received the name: Thérèse of the Child Jesus. On 8 September 1890, Thérèse took her vows; the ceremony of taking the veil followed on the 24th, when she added to her name in religion, “of the Holy Face”, a title which was to become increasingly important in the development and character of her inner life.[74] In his “A l’ecole de Therese de Lisieux: maitresse de la vie spirituelle,” Bishop Guy Gaucher emphasizes that Therese saw the devotions to the Child Jesus and to the Holy Face as so completely linked that she signed herself “Therese de l’Enfant Jesus de la Sainte Face”–Therese of the Child Jesus of the Holy Face. In her poem “My Heaven down here”, composed in 1895, Therese expressed the notion that by the divine union of love, the soul takes on the semblance of Christ. By contemplating the sufferings associated with the Holy Face of Jesus, she felt she could become closer to Christ.[75]

The devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus was promoted by another Carmelite nun, Sister Marie of St Peter in Tours, France in 1844 and then by Leo Dupont, also known as the Apostle of the Holy Face who formed the “Archconfraternity of the Holy Face” in Tours in 1851.[76][77] Thérèse, who was a member of this confraternity,[78] was introduced to the Holy Face devotion by her blood sister Pauline, known as Sister Agnes of Jesus.

Her parents, Louis and Zelie Martin, had also prayed at the Oratory of the Holy Face, originally established by Leo Dupont in Tours.[79] Thérèse wrote many prayers to express her devotion to the Holy Face. She wrote the words “Make me resemble you, Jesus!” on a small card and attached a stamp with an image of the Holy Face. She pinned the prayer in a small container over her heart. In August 1895, in her “Canticle to the Holy Face,” she wrote:

“Jesus, Your ineffable image is the star which guides my steps. Ah, You know, Your sweet Face is for me Heaven on earth. My love discovers the charms of Your Face adorned with tears. I smile through my own tears when I contemplate Your sorrows”.

Thérèse emphasised God’s mercy in both the birth and the passion narratives in the Gospel. She wrote:[80]

“He sees it disfigured, covered with blood!… unrecognizable!… And yet the divine Child does not tremble; this is what He chooses to show His love.”

She also composed the Holy Face prayer for sinners:[81]

“Eternal Father, since Thou hast given me for my inheritance the adorable Face of Thy Divine Son, I offer that face to Thee and I beg Thee, in exchange for this coin of infinite value, to forget the ingratitude of souls dedicated to Thee and to pardon all poor sinners.”

Thérèse’s devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus was based on painted images of the Veil of Veronica,[clarification needed] as promoted by Leon Dupont fifty years earlier. However, over the decades, her poems and prayers helped to spread the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus.[82]

The Little Way

Thérèse in July 1896

In her quest for sanctity, she believed that it was not necessary to accomplish heroic acts, or “great deeds”, in order to attain holiness and to express her love of God. She wrote,

“Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love.”

This little way of Therese is the foundation of her spirituality:[83] Within the Catholic Church Thérèse’s way was known for some time as “the little way of spiritual childhood,” but Thérèse actually wrote “little way” only once,[84] and she never wrote the phrase “spiritual childhood.” It was her sister Pauline who, after Thérèse’s death, adopted the phrase “the little way of spiritual childhood” to interpret Thérèse’s path.[85] Years after Thérèse’s death, a Carmelite of Lisieux asked Pauline about this phrase and Pauline answered spontaneously “But you know well that Thérèse never used it! It is mine.” In May 1897, Thérèse wrote to Father Adolphe Roulland, “My way is all confidence and love.” To Maurice Bellière she wrote “and I, with my way, will do more than you, so I hope that one day Jesus will make you walk by the same way as me.”

“Sometimes, when I read spiritual treatises in which perfection is shown with a thousand obstacles, surrounded by a crowd of illusions, my poor little mind quickly tires. I close the learned book which is breaking my head and drying up my heart, and I take up Holy Scripture. Then all seems luminous to me; a single word uncovers for my soul infinite horizons; perfection seems simple; I see that it is enough to recognize one’s nothingness and to abandon oneself, like a child, into God’s arms. Leaving to great souls, to great minds, the beautiful books I cannot understand, I rejoice to be little because ‘only children, and those who are like them, will be admitted to the heavenly banquet.’ “

Passages like this have left Thérèse open to the charge that her spirituality is sentimental, immature, and unexamined. Her proponents counter that she developed an approach to the spiritual life that people of every background can understand and adopt.

This is evident in her approach to prayer:[86]

“For me, prayer is a movement of the heart; it is a simple glance toward Heaven; it is a cry of gratitude and love in times of trial as well as in times of joy; finally, it is something great, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites me to Jesus. . . . I have not the courage to look through books for beautiful prayers…. I do like a child who does not know how to read; I say very simply to God what I want to say, and He always understands me.”

Autobiography – The Story of a Soul

The crypt of the Basilica of St. Therese in Lisieux

St. Thérèse is known today because of her spiritual memoir, L’histoire d’une âme (The Story of a Soul), which she wrote upon the orders of two prioresses of her monastery, and because of the many miracles worked at her intercession. She began to write “Story of a Soul” in 1895 as a memoir of her childhood, under instructions from her sister Pauline, known in religion as Mother Agnes of Jesus. Mother Agnes gave the order after being prompted by their eldest sister, Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart. While Thérèse was on retreat in September 1896, she wrote a letter to Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart which also forms part of what was later published as “Story of a Soul.” In June 1897, Mother Agnes became aware of the seriousness of Thérèse’s illness; she immediately asked Mother Marie de Gonzague, who had succeeded her as prioress, to allow Thérèse to write another memoir with more details of her religious life. With selections from Therese’s letters and poems and reminiscences of her by the other nuns, it was published posthumously. It was heavily edited by Pauline (Mother Agnes), who made more than seven thousand revisions to Therese’s manuscript and presented it as a biography of her sister. (Aside from considerations of style, Mother Marie de Gonzague had ordered Pauline to alter the first two sections of the manuscript to make them appear as if they were addressed to Mother Marie as well).

Saint Therese’ had written her autobiography under obedience. While on her deathbed the Saint made many references to the book’s future appeal and benefit to souls.

Since 1973, two centenary editions of Thérèse’s original, unedited manuscripts, including The Story of a Soul, her letters, poems[87], prayers and the plays she wrote for the monastery recreations have been published in French. ICS Publications has issued a complete critical edition of her writings: Story of a Soul, Last Conversations, and the two volumes of her letters were translated by John Clarke, O.C.D.; The Poetry of Saint Thérèse by Donald Kinney, O.C.D.; The Prayers of St. Thérèse by Alethea Kane, O.C.D.; and The Religious Plays of St. Therese of Lisieux by David Dwyer and Susan Conroy.

Recognition

Canonization

Interior of the Basilica of St. Thérèse

In 1902, the Polish Carmelite Father Raphael Kalinowski (later Saint Raphael Kalinowski) translated her autobiography The Story of a Soul into Polish.

Her autobiography has inspired many people, including the Italian writer Maria Valtorta.

Pope Pius X signed the decree for the opening of her process of canonization on 10 June 1914. Pope Benedict XV, in order to hasten the process, dispensed with the usual fifty-year delay required between death and beatification. On 14 August 1921, he promulgated the decree on the heroic virtues of Thérèse and gave an address on Thérèse’s way of confidence and love, recommending it to the whole Church.

There may, however, have been a political dimension to the speed of proceedings: partly to act as tonic for a nation exhausted by war, or even a retort from the Vatican against the dominant secularism and anti-clericalism of the French government.

According to some biographies of Édith Piaf, in 1922 the singer — at the time, an unknown seven-year-old girl — was cured from blindness after pilgrimage to the grave of Thérèse, at the time not yet formally canonized.

Thérèse was beatified on 29 April 1923 and canonized on 17 May 1925, by Pope Pius XI, only 28 years after her death. Her feast day was added to the Roman Catholic calendar of saints in 1927 for celebration on 3 October.[88] In 1969, 42 years later, Pope Paul VI moved it to 1 October, the day after her dies natalis (birthday to heaven).[89]

Thérèse of Lisieux is the patron saint of aviators, florists, illness(es) and missions. She is also considered by Catholics to be the patron saint of Russia, although the Russian Orthodox Church does not recognize either her canonization or her patronage. In 1927, Pope Pius XI named Thérèse a patroness of the missions and in 1944 Pope Pius XII named her co-patroness of France alongside St. Joan of Arc.

By the Apostolic Letter Divini Amoris Scientia (The Science of Divine Love) of 19 October 1997, Pope John Paul II declared her one of the thirty-three Doctors of the Universal Church, one of only three women so named, the others being Teresa of Ávila (Saint Teresa of Jesus) and Catherine of Siena. Thérèse was the only saint to be named a Doctor of the Church during Pope John Paul II’s pontificate.

Beatification of St. Therese’s Parents

A movement is now underway to canonise her parents, who were declared “Venerable” in 1994 by Pope John Paul II. In 2004, the Archbishop of Milan accepted the unexpected cure of a child with a lung disorder as attributable to their intercession. Announced by Cardinal Saraiva Martins on 12 July 2008, at the ceremonies marking the 150th anniversary of the marriage of the Venerable Zelie and Louis Martin, their beatification as a couple [3] (the last step before canonization) took place on Mission Sunday, 19 October 2008, at Lisieux.[90][91] In 2011 the letters of Blessed Zélie and Louis Martin were published in English as A Call to a Deeper Love: The Family Correspondence of the Parents of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, 1863-1885.[92]

Some interest has also been shown in promoting for sainthood Thérèse’s sister, Léonie, the only one of the five sisters who did not become a Carmelite nun. She entered religious life three times before her fourth and final entrance in 1899 at the Monastery of the Visitation at Caen. She took the name Sister Françoise-Thérèse and was a fervent disciple of Thérèse’s way. She died in 1941 in Caen, where her tomb in the crypt of the Visitation Monastery can be visited by the public.[4]

Influence

Together with St. Francis of Assisi, St. Thérèse of Lisieux is one of the most popular Catholic saints since apostolic times. As a Doctor of the Church, she is the subject of much theological comment and study, and, as an appealing young woman whose message has touched the lives of millions, she remains the focus of much popular devotion.

Relics of St. Thérèse on a world pilgrimage

For many years Thérèse’s relics have toured the world, and thousands of pilgrims have thronged to pray in their presence. Although Cardinal Basil Hume had declined to endorse proposals for a tour in 1997, her relics finally visited England and Wales in late September and early October 2009, including an overnight stop in the Anglican York Minster on her feastday, 1 October. A quarter of a million people venerated them.[93]

On 27 June 2010, the relics of St. Thérèse made their first visit to South Africa in conjunction with the 2010 World Cup. They remained in the country until 5 October 2010.[94]

With more than two million visitors a year, the Basilica of St. Thérèse in Lisieux is the second largest pilgrimage site in France, after Lourdes

Religious congregations

The Congregation of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux was founded on 19 March 1931 by Mar Augustine Kandathil, the Metropolitan of the Catholic St. Thomas Christians, as the first Indian religious order for brothers.[95]

Places named after St. Thérèse

Tomb in the Basilica of St. Thérèse, Lisieux.
Main article: List of places named after St. Thérèse of Lisieux

A number of locations, churches, and schools throughout the world are named after Saint Thérèse.

The Basilica of St. Thérèse in her home town of Lisieux was consecrated on 11 July 1954; it has become a centre for pilgrims from all over the world. It was originally dedicated in 1937 by Cardinal Pacelli, later Pope Pius XII. The basilica can seat 4,000 people.[96]

Devotees of St. Thérèse

Main article: List of devotees of St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Over the years, a number of prominent people have become devotees of St. Thérèse. These include:

  • Albino Luciani – Pope John Paul I
  • Henri Bergson – Nobel prize winner
  • Padre Pio of Pietrelcina – Italian saint
  • Ada Negri – Italian poet
  • Giuseppe Moscati – Italian saint
  • Maria Valtorta – Catholic mystic
  • Paul James Francis Wattson – Founder of the Atonement Friars[citation needed]
  • Francis Bourne – British Cardinal
  • Thomas Merton – monk and writer
  • Dorothy Day – founder of the Catholic Worker movement
  • Georges Bernanos – French author
  • Jack Kerouac – American author
  • Saint Maximilian Kolbe – Polish martyr of Auschwitz
  • Jean Vanier – founder of l’Arche
  • Édith Piaf – French singer
  • Blessed Teresa of Calcutta – Foundress of the Missionaries of Charity

Bibliography

  • Thérèse of Lisieux: a biography by Patricia O’Connor, 1984 ISBN 0-87973-607-0
  • Thérèse of Lisieux: the way to love by Ann Laforest, 2000 ISBN 1-58051-082-5
  • The Story of a Soul by T. N. Taylor, 2006 ISBN 1-4068-0771-0
  • Thérèse of Lisieux by Joan Monahan, 2003 ISBN 0-8091-6710-7
  • Thérèse of Lisieux: God’s gentle warrior by Thomas R. Nevin, 2006 ISBN 0-19-530721-6
  • Therese and Lisieux by Pierre Descouvemont, Helmuth Nils Loose, 1996 ISBN 0-8028-3836-7
  • St. Thérèse of Lisieux: a transformation in Christ by Thomas Keating, 2001 ISBN 1-930051-20-4
  • Thérèse of Lisieux: Through Love and Suffering, by Murchadh O Madagain, 2003 ISBN
  • 15 Days of Prayer with Saint Thérèse of Lisieux by Constant Tonnelier, 2011 ISBN 978-1-56548-391-0

See also

  • Carmelite Rule of St. Albert
  • Book of the First Monks
  • Constitutions of the Carmelite Order
  • Byzantine Discalced Carmelites
  • Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites
  • National Shrine of the Little Flower

References

  1. ^ Guy Gaucher, The Spiritual Journey of Therese of Lisieux, p 211, ISBN 0-232-51713-4
  2. ^ Thérèse of Lisieux: God’s gentle warrior by Thomas R. Nevin, 2006 ISBN 0-19-530721-6 page 26
  3. ^ a b Guy Gaucher, The Spiritual Journey of Therese of Lisieux, p.2
  4. ^ Vatican website: Proclamation as Doctor of the Church
  5. ^ Venerable and to-be-Blessed Zelie and Louis Martin: Their Lives
  6. ^ Therese and Lisieux, Pierre Descouvement, p.14
  7. ^ Ida Gorres, The Hidden Face p.41-42
  8. ^ Descouvement, Therese and Lisieux, p.24
  9. ^ Gaucher, Spiritual Journey of Therese of Lisieux, p.19
  10. ^ Ordinary Suffering of Extraordinary Saints by Vincent J. O’Malley, 1999 ISBN 0-87973-893-6 page 38
  11. ^ The Hidden Face p. 66
  12. ^ Guy Gaucher The Spiritual Journey of Therese of Lisieux
  13. ^ Summarium 1 1914
  14. ^ The Hidden Face , Ida Gorres p.73
  15. ^ Thérèse of Lisieux: a biography by Patricia O’Connor, 1984 ISBN 0-87973-607-0 page 19
  16. ^ Pierre Descouvemont and Helmuth Nils Loose, “Therese and Lisieux”, p. 53, Toronto, 1996
  17. ^ Gaucher, Spiritual Journey of Thérèse of Lisieux, p.47
  18. ^ a b Thérèse of Lisieux: a biography by Patricia O’Connor, 1984 ISBN 0-87973-607-0 page 22
  19. ^ Thérèse of Lisieux: the way to love by Ann Laforest, 2000 ISBN 1-58051-082-5 page 15
  20. ^ The Story of a Soul by T. N. Taylor, 2006 ISBN 1-4068-0771-0 page 32
  21. ^ Manuscript A, chapter 3, Story of a Soul.
  22. ^ Therese and Lisieux, Pierre Descouvement, p 52
  23. ^ Thérèse of Lisieux by Joan Monahan, 2003 ISBN 0-8091-6710-7 page 45
  24. ^ Thérèse of Lisieux by Joan Monahan, 2003 ISBN 0-8091-6710-7 page 54
  25. ^ Harrison, p.61
  26. ^ Gorres, The Hidden Face, p.112
  27. ^ Ida Friederike Görres, “The hidden face: a study of St. Thérèse of Lisieux“, p. 83, London, 2003
  28. ^ Karen Armstrong, “The Gospel according to woman: Christianity’s creation of the sex war in the West“, p. 234, London, 1986
  29. ^ Monica Furlong Thérèse of Lisieux, p.9, London, 2001
  30. ^ Jean François Six, La verdadera infancia de Teresa de Lisieux: neurosis y santidad, passim, Spain, 1976
  31. ^ Kathryn Harrison, Saint Therese of Lisieux , p 21 Weidenfeld & Nicholson 2003
  32. ^ The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, 2003 Dover Press ISBN 0-486-43185-1
  33. ^ Ida Gorres, The Hidden Face, p. 126-127
  34. ^ Ida Gorres, The Hidden Face, p. 149
  35. ^ Thérèse of Lisieux: a biography, by Patricia O’Connor, 1984, p. 34, ISBN 0-87973-607-0
  36. ^ Kathryn Harrison, p.69
  37. ^ Gorres, p.153
  38. ^ Phyllis G. Jestice, Holy people of the world Published by ABC-CLIO, 2004, ISBN 1-57607-355-6
  39. ^ Gaucher, Spiritual Journey of Therese of Lisieux, p.77
  40. ^ Gorres, The Hidden Face,p.153-154
  41. ^ Clarke, John O.C.D. trans. The Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, 3rd Edition (Washington DC: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1996)
  42. ^ Gorres, p.202
  43. ^ The Story of a Soul by T. N. Taylor, 2006 ISBN 1-4068-0771-0 page 63
  44. ^ Gaucher, Spiritual Journey of Thérèse of Lisieux, p.92
  45. ^ Gorres, p.260
  46. ^ Gaucher p.99
  47. ^ Harrison, p.91
  48. ^ Gorres, p.250-251
  49. ^ Gaucher, p.109
  50. ^ Gorres, p.258
  51. ^ Last Conversations, 5 August 1897
  52. ^ Gorres, p.261
  53. ^ Harrison p.97
  54. ^ Harrison, p.98
  55. ^ Gaucher p.118
  56. ^ Harrison, p.108
  57. ^ General Correspondence, volume 2, p.762
  58. ^ Gorres, p.114,
  59. ^ Harrison, p.111
  60. ^ A Memoir of my Sister, Céline Martin
  61. ^ Kathryn Harrison, p.111
  62. ^ The Hidden Face, p.401
  63. ^ Harrison, p.118
  64. ^ Gorres, p.331
  65. ^ p.219 Descouvement, Thérèse and Lisieux
  66. ^ Gorres, p.188
  67. ^ Gorres, p.189
  68. ^ The Photo Album of St. Therese of Lisieux; commentary, Francois de Sainte-Marie, O.C.D.; translator, Peter-Thomas Rohrbach, O.C.D. New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1962, p. 145.
  69. ^ The making of a social disease: tuberculosis in nineteenth-century France by David S. Barnes 1995 ISBN 0-520-08772-0 page 66
  70. ^ Therese of Lisieux CTS Stories Great Saints Series by Vernon Johnson. Pg 54
  71. ^ Therese of Lisieux CTS Stories Great Saints Series by Vernon Johnston. Pg. 62
  72. ^ Therese and Lisieux by Pierre Descouvemont, Helmuth Nils Loose, 1996 ISBN 0-8028-3836-7 page 245
  73. ^ Collected poems of St Thérèse of Lisieux by Saint Thérèse (de Lisieux), Alan Bancroft 2001 ISBN 0-85244-547-4 page 75
  74. ^ Ida Friederike Gorres p.164 The Hidden Face ISBN 0-89870-927-X
  75. ^ Thomas R. Nevin, Thérèse of Lisieux: God’s gentle warrior Oxford University Press US, 2006 ISBN 0-19-530721-6 pages 184 and 228
  76. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia: Reparation
  77. ^ Dorothy Scallan, The Holy Man of Tours (1990) ISBN 0-89555-390-2
  78. ^ Therese joined this confraternity on April 26, 1885. See Derniers Entretiens, Desclee de Brouwer/Editions Du Cerf, 1971, Volume I, p. 483
  79. ^ Paulinus Redmond, 1995 Louis and Zelie Martin: The Seed and the Root of the Little Flower Cimino Press ISBN 1-899163-08-5 page 257
  80. ^ Ann Laforest, Thérèse of Lisieux: the way to love Published by Rowman & Littlefield, 2000 ISBN 1-58051-082-5 page 61
  81. ^ Catholic.org
  82. ^ Pierre Descouvemont, Thérèse and Lisieux Eerdmans Publishing, 1996 ISBN 0-8028-3836-7 page 137
  83. ^ http://www.carmel.asso.fr/-La-petite-voie-.html?lang=fr
  84. ^ Clarke, John O.C.D. trans. The Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, 3rd Edition (Washington DC: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1996, p. 207).
  85. ^ “The Power of Confidence: Genesis and Structure of the “Way of Spiritual Childhood” of St. Therese of Lisieux. Staten Island, NY: Alba House (Society of St. Paul), 1988, p. 5
  86. ^ Therese’s prayer
  87. ^ On the meaning and importance of Therese’poems we can made ​​to the work of Bernard Bonnejean,La Poésie thérésienne, prefaced by Constant Tonnelier, Paris, Éditions du Cerf, 2006, II-292 p. ,
    • British National Formulary 55, March 2008; ISBN 978 085369 776 3, in French.
  88. ^ Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 104
  89. ^ Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 141
  90. ^ “Béatification à Lisieux des parents de sainte Thérèse” (in French). L’essemtiel des saints et des prénoms. Prenommer. 19 October 2008. http://www.prenommer.com/a-la-une-paris/beatification-a-lisieux-des-parents-de-sainte-therese/. Retrieved 22 October 2008.
  91. ^ “God’s Word renews Christian life”. l’Osservatore Romano (Holy See). 22 October 2008. http://www.vatican.va/news_services/or/or_eng/043w01.pdf. Retrieved 22 October 2008.
  92. ^ Saint Therese of Lisieux: A Gateway
  93. ^ Tens of Thousands Flock to St. Thérèse Relics, By Anna Arco, 25 September 2009, The Catholic Herald (UK) [1]
  94. ^ http://www.thereseoflisieux.org/st-thereses-relics-visit-south/
  95. ^ Fr. George Thalian: The Great Archbishop Mar Augustine Kandathil, D. D.: the Outline of a Vocation, Mar Louis Memorial Press, 1961. (Postscript) (PDF)
  96. ^ Saint-Theres.org
  • Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux translated into English – official Little Flower Web site – 10,000 pages and 5,000 photos
  • Web site of the Pilgrimage Office at Lisieux
  • Web site about the life, writings, spirituality,and mission of Saint Therese of Lisieux
  • The miraculous intercession of St Therese in the lives of four Mystics
  • Sainte Thérèse de Lisieux, biographie
  • The Story of a Soul (L’Histoire d’une Âme): The Autobiography of St. Thérèse (early edition heavily edited by Thérèse’s sister)
  • http://www.saintetherese.org (Sainte Thérèse – Mansourieh / Liban) Parish site in the Lebanese language
  • Pope John Paul II’s Divini Amoris Scientia in English
  • Catholic Encyclopedia article
  • Works by Thérèse de Lisieux at Project Gutenberg early 20th century editions, heavily edited by Therese’s sister
  • Second Class Relic of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
  • Saint Thérèse Memorial Page at FindaGrave
  • St. Thérèse’s relics at Hungary
  • A collection of pictures of Thérèse, on the Lisieux Sanctuary website
  • Saint Theresa’s Shrine, first shine dedicated to the saint in the world

from Wikipedia

St. Therese of Lisieux

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ഞായറാഴ്ച പ്രസംഗങ്ങള്‍: Sunday Homilies / Sunday Sermons: Malayalam, English

Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on June 23, 2012

സീറോ മലബാര്‍ പ്രസംഗങ്ങള്‍ മലയാളത്തില്‍

Sunday Homilies in Malayalam (Syro-Malabar Rite)

ലൈഫ് ഡേ ഓൺലൈൻ 

അൽമായ വചനഭാഷ്യം

വചനനാളം – ദീപനാളം, പാലാ രൂപത

സണ്‍‌ഡേ പുൾപിറ്റ് – പാലക്കാട് രൂപത

ഹോമിലിറ്റിക്കോസ് – ഇരിങ്ങാലക്കുട രൂപത

ഇന്റർനെറ്റ്‌ മിഷൻ, സീറോ മലബാർ സഭ

വചനവേദി, സീറോമലബാർ കാറ്റകേസിസ് 

വചനദൂത് – എം. സി. ബി. എസ്.

വചനബോധി – കാരുണികൻ 

ദേവമാതാ പ്രോവിൻസ്, സി. എം. ഐ.

മംഗലപ്പുഴ സെമിനാരി, ആലുവ

ഗുഡ് ഷെപ്പേഡ് സെമിനാരി, കുന്നോത്ത്

എറണാകുളം-അങ്കമാലി അതിരൂപത

ഇടുക്കി രൂപത 

ഇരിങ്ങാലക്കുട രൂപത

Homily Collections

PDF Collection

Audio Collection

Video Collection

Reference Sources

ഫ്രാൻസിസ് പാപ്പ: Malayalam Site of Pope Francis

Messages from Pope Francis (Video Clips)

Homilies for Feast Days

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മലങ്കര പ്രസംഗങ്ങള്‍ മലയാളത്തില്‍

Sunday Homilies in Malayalam (Malankara)

ലൈഫ് ഡേ ഓൺലൈൻ 

MCBS Karunikan

Syro-Malankara Catholic Church

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ലത്തീന്‍ പ്രസംഗങ്ങള്‍ മലയാളത്തില്‍

Sunday Homilies in Malayalam (Latin)

ലൈഫ് ഡേ ഓൺലൈൻ 

MCBS Karunikan

Diocese of Neyyattinkara

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Hindi Homilies / ഹിന്ദി പ്രസംഗങ്ങൾ / हिंदी धर्मगीत

Navachethana Hindi Homily

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Sunday Homilies in English (Latin)

Latin English Homilies (Video)

Navchethana Homilies

CBCI Homilies

Daily Homilies

Daily Scripture

Homilies Net

Catholic Doors

Light a Candle

Air Maria

Catholic Matters

Daily Meditations

Evangeli Net

Catholic Web

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General Homilies പൊതു പ്രസംഗങ്ങൾ

Homilies for Feast Days

Divine Ministries

Messages from Pope Francis (Video Clips)

ഫ്രാൻസിസ് പാപ്പ: Malayalam Site of Pope Francis

Click here for more Links

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