St.Therese and The Murderer~The Incredible Power of Spiritual Motherhood 

The following took place in 1887, when Thérèse Martin was fourteen years old.


“One Sunday when I was looking at a picture of Our Lord on the Cross, I saw the Blood coming from one of His hands, and I felt terribly sad to think that It was falling to the earth and that no one was rushing forward to catch It. I determined to stay continually at the foot of the Cross and receive It. I knew that I should then have to spread It among other souls. The cry of Jesus on the Cross – ‘I am thirsty’ – rang continually in my heart and set me burning with a new, intense longing. I wanted to quench the thirst of my Well-Beloved and I myself was consumed with a thirst for souls. I was concerned not with the souls of priests but with those of great sinners which I wanted to snatch from the flames of hell.


“God showed me He was pleased with these longings of mine. I’d heard of a criminal who had just been condemned to death for some frightful murders. It seemed that he would die without repenting. I was determined at all costs to same him from hell. I used every means I could. I knew that by myself I could do nothing, so I offered God the infinite merits of Our Lord and the treasures of the Church. I was quite certain that my prayers would be answered, but to give me courage to go on praying for sinners I said to God: ‘I am sure You will forgive this wretched Pranzini. I shall believe You have done so even if he does not confess or give any other sign of repentance, for I have compete faith in the infinite mercy of Jesus. But I ask You for just one sign of his repentance to encourage me.’

“This prayer was answered. Daddy never allowed us to read any newspapers, but I thought I was justified in looking at the stories about Pranzini. On the day after his execution I eagerly opened La Croix and I had to rush away to hide my tears at what I read. Pranzini had mounted the scaffold without confessing and was ready to thrust his head beneath the guillotine’s blade when he suddenly turned, seized the crucifix offered him by the priest, and thrice kissed the Sacred Wounds.

“I had been given my sign, and it was typical of the graces Jesus has given me to make me eager to pray for sinners. It was at the sight of the Precious Blood flowing from the Wounds of Jesus that my thirst for souls had been born. I wanted to let them drink of this Immaculate Blood to cleanse them of their sins and the lips of my ‘first child’ had pressed against the Sacred Wounds! What a wonderful reply to my prayers! After this striking favour my longing for souls grew greater every day. I seemed to hear Jesus say to me what He said to the Samaritan Woman: ‘Give me to drink.’ It was a real exchange of love: I gave souls the Blood of Jesus and offered Him these purified souls that His thirst might be quenched. The more I gave Him to drink, the more the thirst of my own poor soul increased, and He gave me this burning thirst to show His love for me.” (From early in chapter 5 of Story of a Soul)

Spiritual  Motherhood~The Nun and the Bishop 

Each of us owes gratitude for our lives and our vocations to the prayers and sacrifices of others.One of the leading gures of the German episcopacy of the 19th century,and among the founders of Catholic sociology, Bishop Ketteler owed his gratitude to a simple nun, the least and poorest lay sister of her convent.

in 1869, a German diocesan bishop was sitting  together with his guest, Bishop Ket-teler from Mainz. During the course of their conversation, the diocesan bishop brought up his guest’s extremely blessed apostolate.Bishop Ketteler explained to his host, “I owe thanks for everything that I have accom-plished with God’s help, to the prayer and sacrifice of someone I do not even know. I can only say that I know somebody has offered his or her whole life to our loving God for me,and I have this sacrafice to thank that I even became a priest.”

He continued, “Originally, I wasn’t plan-ning on becoming a priest. I had already finished my law degree and thought only about finding an important place in the world to begin acquiring honour, prestige and wealth.An extraordinary experience held me back and directed my life down a different path.

“One evening I was alone in my room, con-sidering my future plans of fame and fortune,when something happened which I cannot ex-plain. Was I awake or asleep? Did I really see it or was it just a dream? One thing I do know, it brought about a change in my life. I saw Jesus very clearly and distinctly standing over me in a radiant cloud, showing me his Sacred Heart.A nun was kneeling before him, her hands raised up in prayer. From his mouth, I heard the words, ‘She prays unremittingly for you!’“I distinctly saw the appearance of the sister, and her traits made such an impression on me that she has remained in my memory to this day. She seemed to be quite an ordi-nary lay sister. Her clothing was very poor and rough. Her hands were red and calloused from hard work. Whatever it was, a dream or not, it was extraordinary. It shook me to the depths of my being so that from that moment on, I decided to consecrate myself to God in the service of the priesthood.


“I withdrew to a monastery for a retreat,and I talked about everything with my confes-sor. Then, at the age of 30, I began studying theology. You know the rest of the story. So, if you think that I have done something admi-rable, now you know who really deserves the credit—a religious sister who prayed for me,maybe without even knowing who I was. I am convinced, I was prayed for and I will contin-ue to be prayed for in secret and that without these prayers, I could never have reached the goal that God has destined for me.”

“Do you have any idea of the wherea-bouts or the identity of who has prayed for you?” asked the diocesan bishop.

No, I can only ask God each day that, while she is still on earth, he bless and repay her a thousand-fold for what she has done for me.”
The next day, Bishop Ketteler visited a convent of sisters in a nearby city and cele-brated Holy Mass in their chapel. He was dis-tributing Holy Communion to the last row of sisters when one of them suddenly caught his eye. His face grew pale, and he stood there,motionless. Finally regaining his composure,he gave Holy Communion to the sister who was kneeling in recollection unaware of his hesitation. He then concluded the liturgy.

The bishop who had invited him the pre-vious day came and joined him at the convent for breakfast. When they had finished, Bishop Ketteler asked the Mother Superior to present to him all the sisters in the house. Before long she had gathered all the sisters together, and both bishops went to meet them. Bishop Ket-teler greeted them, but it was apparent that he did not find the one he was looking for.

He quietly asked the Mother Superior,

“Are all the sisters really here?”

She looked over the group of sisters and then said, “Your Excellency, I called them all,but, in fact, one of them is not here.”

“Why didn’t she come?”

“She works in the barn,” answered the superior, “and in such a commendable way that, in her enthusiasm, she sometimes for-gets other things.”

“I would like to see that sister,” requested the Bishop.


A little while later, the sister who had been summoned stepped into the room. Again bishop Ketteler turned pale, and after a few words to all the sisters, he asked if he could be alone with the sister who had just come in.

“Do you know me?” he asked her.

“I have never seen Your Excellency before.”

“Have you ever prayed for me or offered up a good deed for me?” he wanted to know.“I do not recall that I have ever heard of Your Excellency.”

The Bishop was silent for a few moments and then he asked, “Do you have a particular devotion that you like?”

“The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Je-sus,” was the response.

“You have, it seems, the most difficult task in the convent,” he continued.

“Oh no, Your Excellency” the sister coun-tered, “but I cannot lie, it is unpleasant for me.”

“And what do you do when you have such temptations against your work?”

“For things that cost me greatly, I grew ac-customed to facing them with joy and enthusi-asm out of love for God, and then I offer them up for one soul on earth. To whom God chooses to be gracious as a result, I have left completely up to him and I do not need to know who he chooses..I also offer up my time of Eucharistic adoration every evening from 8 to 9 for this intention.”

“Where did you get the idea to offer up all your merits for someone totally unknown to you?”

“I learned it while I was still out in the world,” she replied. “At school our teacher,the parish priest, taught us how we can pray and offer our merits for our relatives. Besides that, he said that we should pray much for those who are in danger of being lost. Sinceonly God knows who really needs prayer, it is best to put your merits at the disposition of the sacred Heart of Jesus trusting in his wisdom and omnipotence. That is what I have done,”she concluded, “and I always believed that God would find the right soul.”

“How old are you?” Ketteler asked.

“Thirty-three, Your Excellency,” she answered.

The Bishop paused a moment. Then he asked her, “When were you born?” The sister stated her day of birth. The Bishop gasped; her birth-day was the day of his conversion! Back then he saw her exactly as she was before him now. “And have you any idea whether your prayers and sacrifices have been successful?” he asked her further.

“No, Your Excellency.”

“Don’t you want to know?”

“Our dear God knows when something good happens, and that is enough,” was the simple answer.

The Bishop was shaken. “So continue this work in the name of the Lord,” he said. The sister knelt down immediately at his feet and asked for his blessing. The Bishop solemnly raised his hands and said with great emotion, “With the power entrusted to me as a bishop, I bless your soul, I bless your hands and their work, I bless your prayers sacrifices, your self-renunciation and your obedience. I bless especial-ly your final hour and ask God to assist you with all his consolation.”“Amen,” the sister answered calmly, then stood up and left.


The Bishop, profoundly moved, stepped over to the window inorder to compose himself. Some time later, he said good-bye to the  mother  Superior and returned to the apartment of his bishop friend. He confided to him, “Now I found the one I have to thank for my vocation.It is the lowest and poorest lay sister of that convent. I cannot thank God enough for his mercy because this sister has prayed for me for almost 20 years. On the day she first saw the light of the world, God worked my conversion accepting in advance her future prayers and works.

“What a lesson and a reminder for me! Should I become tempted to vanity by a certain amount of success or by my good works, then I can affirm in truth: You have the prayer and sacrifice  of a poor maid in a convent stall to thank. And when a small and lowly task appears of lit-tle value to me, then I will also remember the fact: what this maid does in humble obedience to God, making a sacrifice  by overcoming herself,is so valuable before the Lord Our God that her merits have given rise to a bishop for the Church.”