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Story of a Soul

Saint Therese of Lisieux, also known as Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, captivates readers with her profound spiritual journey documented in “The Autobiography of Saint Therese of Lisieux: The Story of a Soul Translated by John Beevers”. This spiritual classic, penned by Saint Thérèse herself, offers profound insights into her life, spirituality, and unwavering devotion. Here’s a comprehensive summary of the book, as described in the 11 chapters of her autobiography, uncovering the timeless wisdom and lessons she imparted through her experiences.

Summary : Story of A Soul

Childhood of Saint Therese

Saint Therese’s journey begins with her upbringing in a devout Catholic family in France. Born Marie-Françoise-Thérèse Martin, she was the youngest of nine children. Her parents, Louis and Zélie Martin, instilled in her a deep love for God from an early age. Thérèse’s upbringing in a loving, religious family laid the foundation for her spiritual journey. Despite losing her mother at a tender age of four, Saint Therese found solace in her faith, setting the stage for her spiritual journey. Therese describes several pivotal moments, including a serious illness at age ten and a sudden, inexplicable recovery, which she attributed to divine intervention.

Entry into Carmelite Convent

Therese experiences a powerful calling to join the Carmelite order, a community known for its strict seclusion and dedication to prayer. Despite her young age, she overcomes numerous obstacles to enter the convent at the age of fifteen. This chapter emphasizes the power of discernment and following God’s will, even when the path seems difficult. This pivotal decision marked the beginning of her transformative journey within the confines of the cloister.

Life in the Convent

Within the walls of the Carmel, Saint Therese embraced the rigorous routine of monastic life with unwavering dedication. Through prayer, contemplation, and manual labor, she sought to deepen her relationship with God. Her writings reflect her intimate communion with the Divine and her longing for a life of holiness.

Struggles and Trials

Saint Therese’s journey was not without its share of trials and tribulations. Therese enters a period of spiritual darkness, questioning her faith and experiencing a sense of God’s absence. This “trial of faith,” as she terms it, lasts for several years and tests her resolve. Moreover, her fragile health added to her challenges, yet she endured with steadfast faith, finding strength in her belief in God’s providence. This chapter reminds us that doubt and spiritual dryness are often part of the growth process.

Devotion to the Little Way

In the midst of her spiritual darkness, Therese receives a profound grace. She realizes her vocation is not to perform great deeds but to live a life of “little things” done with great love for God. This discovery becomes the cornerstone of her spirituality, the “Little Way”, a path of simplicity, humility, and childlike trust in God that emphasizes finding holiness in everyday tasks. She advocated for small acts of love and kindness in everyday life, believing that even the smallest actions could lead to great spiritual growth. This chapter highlights the importance of recognizing God’s presence in the ordinary.

Love for God and Humanity

Saint Therese’s love for God overflowed into her love for humanity. Despite her seclusion within the convent, she harbored a deep compassion for the suffering and marginalized. Therese experiences a growing desire to pray for the souls in purgatory, believing her prayers can alleviate their suffering. She devotes herself to intercessory prayer, offering her small sacrifices for the benefit of others. Her letters and prayers reveal her desire to alleviate the spiritual and physical needs of others, embodying the essence of Christian charity. This chapter highlights the importance of compassion and intercessory prayer for the departed.

Sister Therese of the Child Jesus

Therese receives a new name upon taking her final vows – Sister Therese of the Child Jesus. This name signifies her desire to embrace childlike simplicity and dependence on God’s love. She dedicates herself to a life of obscurity, finding joy in the hiddenness of her vocation. This chapter emphasizes the value of humility and finding fulfillment in serving God, regardless of recognition.

Final Illness and Death

In her final years, Saint Therese battled tuberculosis, enduring excruciating pain with unwavering faith and resignation to God’s will. Therese’s final days are marked by suffering and increasing weakness. Yet, she continues to offer her pain for the salvation of souls. Her acceptance of suffering and imminent death exemplifies her profound trust in God’s providence. On September 30, 1897, she peacefully passed away, leaving behind a legacy of holiness and love. This chapter reminds us of the power of redemptive suffering and the ultimate victory of faith.

Posthumous Publications

Following her death, Saint Therese’s autobiography, “The Story of a Soul”, was published, offering profound insights into her spiritual journey. Translated by John Beevers, her writings garnered widespread acclaim, touching the hearts of readers worldwide. Through her words, she continues to inspire countless souls to embrace a life of love and devotion.

Canonization and Legacy

Saint Therese’s exemplary life of holiness led to her canonization as a saint of the Catholic Church. Forty years after her death, in 1622, Pope Gregory XV canonized Teresa as a saint. Her “Little Way” has become a guiding light for believers seeking to grow in intimacy with God. In 1970, Pope Paul VI proclaimed her the first female Doctor of the Church, recognizing her significant contributions to Catholicism and Christian mysticism. Her intercession and spiritual teachings have left an indelible mark on the Church, offering hope and encouragement to all who seek her guidance.

Thérèse’s Mystical Experiences

Saint Thérèse’s Mystical Experiences are deeply fascinating and have left a lasting impact on Christian spirituality. Let’s explore some aspects of her mystical journey:

  1. Ecstatic Mystical Experiences

    • In her autobiography, “The Life of Teresa of Jesus”, Teresa describes her encounters with divine ecstasy. These experiences were intense and transformative.
    • Teresa discerned four stages in the ascent of the soul to God:
      • Mental Prayer and Meditation: The initial stage where the soul engages in contemplation and seeks communion with God through focused prayer.
      • The Prayer of Quiet: A deeper state where the soul experiences profound peace and union with God. The outside world’s distractions vanish.
      • Absorption-in-God: Here, the soul becomes fully absorbed in divine love. It is a state of complete surrender and intimacy with God.
      • Ecstatic Consciousness: The pinnacle of mystical experience, where the soul feels united with God in an ineffable way. Teresa often experienced raptures and visions during this stage.
  1. The Interior Castle

    • In her book “The Interior Castle,” Teresa uses the metaphor of a castle with seven mansions to describe the soul’s journey toward God.
    • Each mansion represents a different level of spiritual growth and intimacy with God. As the soul progresses, it moves from the outermost mansions (symbolizing worldly concerns) to the innermost ones (symbolizing divine union).
    • Teresa’s mystical experiences are woven into her teachings within “The Interior Castle,” emphasizing the importance of self-awareness, humility, and surrender to God’s grace.
  2. Art and Mysticism

    • Teresa’s mystical experiences not only influenced her writings but also inspired profound art. Mysticism serves as a catalyst for the human mind, allowing it to grapple with contemplation and transcendence.
    • Like a muse, mysticism transforms the personality and leads to creative expression. Teresa’s visions and encounters with God undoubtedly left an indelible mark on her spiritual legacy and artistic expression.

In summary, Saint Teresa’s mystical experiences were profound and multifaceted. Her journey exemplifies the union of human longing and divine grace, inviting us to seek God with fervor and openness. 


In summary, “The Story of a Soul” offers readers a glimpse into the profound spirituality of a modern-day saint. Saint Thérèse’s “Little Way” reminds us that holiness lies in ordinary acts performed with great love. Through her words and experiences, Saint Therese invites us to embark on a journey of intimate communion with God, embracing the simplicity of the Gospel message. As we read her autobiography, we learn that sanctity is attainable for all, regardless of our circumstances. May Saint Thérèse’s example inspire us to live wholeheartedly for God! 

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Was Saint Therese always devout from childhood?

While she was raised in a devout Catholic family, Saint Therese experienced her own spiritual awakening during her teenage years.

  1. What role does the “Little Way” play?

The “Little Way” emphasizes the importance of small acts of love and kindness in daily life, believing that even the smallest actions can lead to great spiritual growth.

  1. How did Saint Therese view suffering?

Saint Therese embraced suffering as a means of drawing closer to God, viewing it as an opportunity to unite her pain with the sufferings of Christ.

  1. What impact did Saint Therese’s autobiography have on readers?

Saint Therese’s autobiography, translated by John Beevers, has inspired countless readers with its profound insights into her spiritual journey and teachings.

  1. What is Saint Therese’s legacy in the Catholic Church?

Saint Therese’s legacy includes her canonization as a saint, her spiritual teachings, and her ongoing intercession for believers worldwide.

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