|St. Teresa of the Infant Jesus (Therese of Lisieux), born in 1873, was a Carmelite nun who died at the young age of 24.
She never went on missions, never founded a religious order and never performed great works, but she has been admired by generations of Catholics who found in her short life more inspiration than in volumes of writings by theologians.
Known as the "Little Flower”, she trusted Jesus to make her holy and was devoted to the perfect accomplishment of small duties. Her reliance on small daily sacrifices instead of great deeds appealed to the thousands of Catholics and others who were trying to find holiness in ordinary lives.
The account of the eleven years of her religious life, containing her autobiography, "Story of a Soul", was published after her death and found immediate success.
She lived each day with an unshakeable confidence in God's love. "What matters in life," she wrote, "is not great deeds, but great love." She lived and taught a spirituality of attending to everyone and everything well and with love.
Canonized in 1925, Teresa is one of the patron saints of the missions, not because she ever went anywhere, but because of her special love of the missions, and the prayers and letters she gave in support of missionaries. This is reminder to all of us who feel we can do nothing, that it is the little things that keep God's kingdom growing.
In 1997, Pope John Paul II declared St. Teresa a Doctor of the Church - the only Doctor of his pontificate - in tribute to the powerful way her spirituality has influenced people all over the world.