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Saint Thérèse of Lisieux honored by Unesco

The delegate of France to the United Nations, the apostolic nuncio in France, the permanent observer of the Holy See to Unesco, the deputy of Calvados… It is a parterre of very official guests who gathered , Saturday 4 December afternoon, at the Hall Saint-Jacques in Lisieux. The purpose of this summit meeting? The “Little Thérèse”, born in Alençon in 1873 and died of tuberculosis twenty-four years later, within the walls of the Carmel of Lisieux where she spent nine years.

It is on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of his birth that Unesco will honor, in 2022 and 2023, this “Universal figure and ambassador of France”. Every two years, in fact, the UN organization for culture puts forward a list of personalities who have worked, throughout the world, for peace, science or education – all values ​​defended by Unesco. . This is called a “biennial”, the list being renewed every two years.

Events in France and abroad

On a proposal from the Sanctuary of Lisieux, and with the support of Belgium and Italy, France has this time chosen to present Thérèse de Lisieux. She also proposed the name of Gustave Eiffel, who died in 1923. After an internal selection process, Unesco retained the Saint of Lisieux to include her on its final list of birthdays celebrated during the 2022-2023 biennial.

If the ceremony of December 4 marked her official inclusion on this list, other events will be organized in the next two years to honor the famous Carmelite. As well locally, in Normandy, as in other cities of France and abroad.

→ READ. Édith Piaf, great admirer of Thérèse de Lisieux

“This celebration will help to bring greater visibility and justice to women who have promoted, through their actions, the values ​​of peace”, we read in the presentation made last March to the Unesco executive committee. It is also a way for the organization to highlight, through a popular figure (Lisieux is the second place of pilgrimage in France after Lourdes), “The role of women within religions in the fight against poverty and the promotion of inclusion”.

“A language that transcends borders”

For Father Olivier Ruffray, rector of the sanctuary of Lisieux, this recognition “Opens up new perspectives for the dissemination of his message of life, peace and love”. Until around “The most remote islands”, to use the expression of Saint Teresa, which echoes the “Peripheries” dear to Pope Francis.

“Known throughout the world, Thérèse, thanks to her works and her testimony, contributes to the promotion of universal values”, confirms Father Thierry Hénault-Morel, rector of the Louis and Zélie Martin sanctuary in Alençon. “Through the quality and depth of her life, she speaks a language that transcends borders, that of Love. “

In addition to the worldwide influence of his writings (his major work Story of a soulhas been broadcast in 80 countries), the one who was appointed a Doctor of the Church in 1997 has been honored around the world in recent years. Especially in countries torn by violence or conflict, such as Colombia, Iraq or the Philippines.


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