St. Therese joined a special group of saints on October 19, 1997. St. Pope John Paul II declared St. Therese a doctor of the Church on this day because of her writings and spirituality.
When this title is bestowed upon a canonized saint, it means that their teachings or philosophies are considered valuable to the Church. The writings and teachings of these saints impact people’s faith every day.
St. Therese stands out among the doctors of the Church. She is one of four women doctors and the youngest at the time of her death. She is also joined by two other Carmelite saints, St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross.
Pope John Paul II shared many thoughts about St. Therese becoming a doctor of the church. Here are some of his quotes on her:
“Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face is the youngest of all the “Doctors of the Church,” but her ardent spiritual journey shows such maturity, and the insights of faith expressed in her writings are so vast and profound that they deserve a place among the great spiritual masters” – Homily on St. Therese
“During her life Therese discovered “new lights, hidden and mysterious meanings” and received from the divine Teacher that “science of love” which she then expressed with particular originality in her writings. This science is the luminous expression of her knowledge of the mystery of the kingdom and of her personal experience of grace. It can be considered a special charism of Gospel wisdom which Therese, like other saints and teachers of faith, attained in prayer (cf. Ms C, 36r).” – Divini Amoris Scientia (Apostolic Letter Proclaiming St. Therese a Doctor of the Church)
“The spiritual radiance of Therese of the Child Jesus increased in the Church and spread throughout the world. Many institutes of consecrated life and ecclesial movements, especially in the young Churches, chose her as their patron and teacher, taking their inspiration from her spiritual doctrine. Her message, often summarized in the so-called “little way,” which is nothing other than the Gospel way of holiness for all, was studied by theologians and experts in spirituality.” – Divini Amoris Scientia
St. Pope John Paul II has considered St. Therese of Lisieux one of the greatest modern day saints. Through her Little Way and child-like trust she is a shining star in the communion of saints.