My favorite books about St. Therese

Writing Trusting God with St. Therese, I have purchased or checked out from the library several book about the saint that I had not read before. I have also revisited some old favorites. There are countless books about Therese, but not all are of the same quality or focus. Here are some of my favorites, in brief. Throughout this year, I hope to give you more detailed critiques of them and others.

 

I Believe in Love

I Believe in Love

I Believe in Love: A Personal Retreat Based on the Teaching of St. Therese of Lisieux by Fr. Jean C. J. d’Elbee is by far my favorite book on Therese. In fact, it’s one of my favorite books of all time. I have given this book away twice before. I just received it for Christmas for the third time and am rereading it.

The point that struck me most on my last reading was that we shouldn’t say, “I’m striving to love God.” Instead, we should simply say, “I love God.” Love is a matter of the will. If we truly will to love, we achieve love.

 

The Way of Trust and Love

The Way of Trust and Love

A newer book with a similar theme is The Way of Trust and Love: A Retreat Guided by St. Therese of Lisieux by Fr. Jacques Philippe.  I recommend any book by Jacques Philippe. He is masterful at presenting traditional spiritual truths to a 21st century audience.

It was reading The Way of Trust and Love that set me firmly on the way to trusting God.

 

Story of a LifeThe Story of a Life

The Story of a Life: St. Therese of Lisieux was written by Guy Gaucher, the Bishop of Lisieux. This book is known as the definitive biography of St. Therese. If you have read Therese’s Story of a Soul and desire to dig dipper into the events of her life, this is the book I recommend.

Unlike some “studies” of St. Therese that are organized by theme, Gaucher’s book is chronological. This makes it easy to follow. You could read it alongside Therese’s writings to help illuminate them.

 

The Passion of St. Therese of Lisieux The Passion of Therese of Lisieux

Also by Bishop Guy Gaucher, The Passion of St. Therese deals with the saint’s final illness and death. Here you will learn more details that did not make it into Gaucher’s full biography. It was actually written over a decade earlier, however.

This one is arranged by theme, so it does cover some of the same time period over and over from different perspectives. But if you ever thought that Therese did not really suffer much or was just a sappy saint,  The Passion of St. Therese of Lisiuex will convince you otherwise!

 

Therese and LisieuxTherese and Lisieux

Therese and Lisieux by Pierre Descouvemont and Helmuth Nils Loose is a wonderful coffee-table book for devotees. You can find most of the photos in this book online (I have several of them on my Pinterest Board of St. Therese).  But seeing them online does not compare, in my opinion, to holding a book of them in your hands.

The photos are interspersed with biography and quotes from Therese’s writings.

 

Connie Rossini

Share with us: What is your favorite book about St. Therese? Tell us why you like it so much.

Comments

  1. says

    Yes! I Believe in Love also tops my list. I can’t remember the number of times I have read it and it is always a book I suggest as prescription for just about any problem. I finally bought a second copy so I would have one to lend and one to always have on hand.

  2. says

    I tend to prefer the writings of the saints themselves. I went through a Saint Therese “phase” twenty-five years ago or so. It began with reading the John Clarke, O.C.D. translation of “Story of a Soul.” Earlier in life I had read another version that I found off-putting, but I was at a different place in my life when I read Clark’s version. So that’s my favorite.

    After reading that I went to the two volumes of her letters, also translated by Clarke. Then I read Clarke’s book about Therese’s last conversations. Reading these writings was a spiritually transforming experience for me. I couldn’t get enough! I was always trying to find ways to “get away” from the mundane tasks of daily life and sit with Saint Therese! She was my “dessert” after finishing my chores and responsibilities.

    One day I found a book in French, Visage de Therese de Lisieux. I don’t remember where I got it, but it is originally from the Office Central de Lisieux and has a 1961 copyright. It has just photos of St. Therese, so no need to read French! However, there is an accompanying booklet that describes each and every photo and who is in each one. It is in French.

    • says

      I hadn’t read many of her letters or The Last Conversations until recently. I find it very helpful, especially for her writing outside Story of a Soul, to read other works that put them in context. When did she write a particular letter? What stage of her disease was she in when she said that? It helps me understand her words better.

  3. says

    Thanks for writing this, Connie.
    I’d like to mention two more books about St. Therese, both of which concentrate on psychological issues.
    The first is THE HIDDEN FACE, by Ida Gorres, 1959, currently available from Ignatius Press. This biography helps us see the vast work of grace accomplished in our saint. Far from being a simpering little girl, St. Therese had to face and conquer enormous challenges to peace of heart and holiness of life. As for most of us, her native tendency toward self-centeredness proved her biggest foe, an enemy she met and fought daily. That she surely struggled and eventually won this war gives us all hope.
    The second book is THE CONTEXT OF HOLINESS, by Fr. Marc Foley, O.C.D., 2008, and published by ICS Publications. Its subtitle is “Psychological and Spiritual Reflections on the Life of St. Therese of Lisieux.”
    A couple of citations can set the tone of the book:
    “In this book, I have tried to show through the life of one woman that the trials and tragedies of life, the fears and conflicts of the human heart are not obstacles to growth in holiness but the stage upon which the drama of holiness unfolds” (p.141).
    “We know that confidence and trust in God’s love was a cornerstone of Therese’s spirituality, but this does not mean that she always FELT trust in God’s love” (p. 110; emphasis in the original).

    • says

      Hi, Isaiah. Nice to see you on my blog! I have also read (most of) The Hidden Face while writing my book. Gorres’ “study” (rather than biography) was one of the first to show Therese as she really was. Gorres analyzes the life of the saint, her family, and the the other nuns. I do not always agree with her analysis. I think she is too critical of the “bourgeois” outlook of the Martins. Many of the spiritual practices she criticizes were ones I was taught to practice as a child too. However, she does have some wonderful insights as well. Well worth reading. I was not aware of Fr. Foley’s book.

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