The Life of Louis
Louis Martin, a watchmaker, was born in 1823 into a French military family. He spent the majority of his childhood living at various military posts. Through his childhood, Louis developed a sense of order and discipline that comes with the army life.
Eventually, Louis settled down in Alençon, France to focus on his watchmaking and to develop his trade. He enjoyed his time in this quaint little city. He even spent a lot of his time fishing for trout in a little stream.
At age 22, Louis tried to enter religious life at the monastery of the Augustinian Canons of the Great St. Bernard Hospice in the Alps. Martin was denied entrance for his inability to learn Latin. This caused Louis to feel as if he lost all hope.
The Life of Zelie
Born in 1831, Zelie Guerin was brought up in a military family. She would often refer to her childhood as “dismal.”
At age 22, Guerin attempted to enter the religious order of the sisters of the Hotel-Dieu. She was declined because of her poor health. After being refused entrance, Zelie picked up the skill of lace making and became well known for making the Alençon style of lace. She became so successful that she opened up her own lace business.
Their Life Together
Louis and Zelie began their life together on July 13, 1858. Throughout their marriage, they had nine children, but only five daughters survived into adulthood. The Martin’s raised their children with a strong sense of faith and love. This family background led all five daughters to join religious life. One of them became a canonized saint, Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. Today, we know her as the “little flower.” Tragedy struck the family early when Zelie died from breast cancer at age 46, leaving Louis to watch over their five children. St. Therese was only four when her mother died and the loss would impact the rest of her life. When Therese was still new to life as a Carmelite nun, her beloved father Louis died from cerebral arteriosclerosis.
The Martins were recently canonized on October 18, 2016. They were the first married couple to be canonized together. Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin are a wonderful example of a God-centered marriage and family.