Marriage and family life celebrated in the presence of the relics of Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin

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News from the Diocese of Plymouth

The relics of the parents of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, Blessed Louis and Blessed Zelie Martin have been touring the Diocese of Plymouth.

Mass for married couples and families was celebrated in the Cathedral in Plymouth on 16 May and in Holy Trinity Church, Dorchester, on 19 May.

In his homily on both occasions, the Rt Rev Mark O’Toole, Bishop of Plymouth, drew attention to the “quiet heroism” of the couple who lived a life of holiness in the circumstances of ordinary family life:

“We should not assume that this couple lived in some kind of romantic Christian bubble… They put before us some important truths. We see the great beauty of married life, when lived with open-ness and a deep sense of God’s purpose.

“We see that difficulties and suffering are very much part of human life. When they touch the heart of the family they can still be lived with a quiet heroism, with a very deep trust in the presence of Jesus who unites Himself to our suffering. We see that the task of the Family is indeed to be ‘the domestic Church’, as Blessed Pope Paul VI has described it, where children are encouraged to be selfless and to seek, in the everyday experiences of life, to become holy.

“And of course we see that serious illness, and the trials of getting older, can also be lived with generosity of spirit and against a transcendent horizon, which sees all of human life unfolding, ‘for the greater glory of God’.

“May the presence of this holy couple in our diocese rain down a shower of blessings on all of us, especially every married couple, and every family.”

During the Mass, married couples from across the diocese, and beyond, were invited to renew their marriage vows.

Services for the sick, the bereaved, for young people and for schools were also held in the presence of the relics, and thousands have come to reverence the relics in both places.

The relics are in the Diocese of Plymouth from the 15 – 20 May and will then go to the Diocese of Portsmouth for three days, before returning to Lisieux.

Blessed Louis and Zelie are due to be Canonised Saints by Pope Francis in Rome in October, during the Synod on the Family.


Download a PDF of Bishop Mark O’Toole’s homily using the link below or to the right of this article.

Relics Homily