In the days when I considered such things, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux was known to us as Saint Theresa, the Little Flower. I always thought of her as the one you could count on to get you through.
It never occured to me that I would someday see Lisieux and visit all the important places in her short life. Born in 1873 and died in 1897, Thérèse was the youngest child of a wealthy and very religious family.
We visited St. Peter’s Cathedral, where she attended Mass, made her first confession, and received a revelation that she had a vocation. (This all makes perfect sense if you were raised as a Catholic.)
Interestingly, there is also a statue of Joan of Arc in this cathedral. Thérèse and Joan are considered to be co-patrons of France, in Catholic terms.
We also visited her childhood home, Les Buissonnets, which has the family furnishings and many treasures of her childood.
Thérèse received special permission to enter the Carmelite order when she was fifteen. The next stop on our pilgrimage was the Carmelite monastery where she is entombed, and where various artifacts of her religious life are displayed – including the door and tiles that she walked on to enter her cell.
The finale of our visit was the spectacular Basilica Saint Thérèse. If you have ever wondered what a huge cathedral built in the 20th century could do to rival the past, this would be it. It is exhuberantly colorful and quite massive, with side altars donated by countries around the world. Quite impressive, though we had a particiular fondness for the mosaic of the native-types that complemented the Europeans around the main mosaic of Saint Theresa. A magnificient and thoroughly overwhelming display of love for this saint – and her parents.
On a more corporal note and still thinking about cheese, we next made our way to Pont-l’Évêque, a very charming town where they have certainly had success with the local dairy products. Though it was heavily bombed in 1944, the restoration of this town was quite seamless.
Our next stop of the day was nearby in Coudray-Rabut, where we visited the Christian Drouin Calvados Estate. Though it seems like a small operation it is one of the top producers, famed worldwide.
What they do with apples in Normandy is marvelous…