Stronger than Steel: Soldiers of the Great War Write to Thérèse of Lisieux- Paperback

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The Story of a Soul was hugely popular, and soldiers carried around holy cards, medals, and relics.


“In my distress, I cried out with absolute faith: ‘Over here, Sister Thérèse!’ No sooner had I uttered these words than the saint suddenly appeared to me, bright and with a large halo. With her mighty hand, she abruptly stopped the enemy’s shooting, and not a single shell was released anymore until I arrived in Verdun.” (May 1916) “I saw a sort of brightness and the little Sister Thérèse who was looking at me with a smile. Oh, what kind eyes this saint had for me!” (June 1917) “I began to pray to the little Sister to have mercy on me, for I was without courage at the moment, and she appeared to me as she is on her image, but without telling me anything; I only felt she was protecting me, it was as if I read in her eyes: ‘I am here, do not fear anything.’” (October 1918)

In the seventeen years between her death in 1897 and the outbreak of World War I, the fame of Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face had spread widely, especially in France and its colonies: her autobiography The Story of a Soul was hugely popular, and soldiers carried around holy cards, medals, and relics. This remarkable collection of letters from (mostly French) soldiers fighting in the Great War and enduring its abysmal horrors are astonishing and moving testimonies of how Thérèse appeared to them or spoke to them when invoked—how she miraculously protected them from “showers of iron and fire,” delivered them from precipitous danger, healed them when doctors despaired, and encouraged them in the trials of battle. Shedding new light on the enduring mission of this beloved saint, Stronger than Steel will rekindle the reader’s devotion to “the greatest saint of modern times” (in the words of her devotee, Pope Pius X).

Praise for Stronger than Steel

“Make no mistake: St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower, is indeed much stronger than steel. France entered WWI in 1914. Although St. Thérèse had passed away 17 years before, she was vividly there in battle in the midst of the French troops. After the war, soldiers flooded the Carmel in Lisieux with letters about how this once-cloistered nun protected them, renewed their faith, saved them, even appeared to them, taking some by the hand amid the bullets and bloodshed. Each letter is a treasure, a true account of God’s presence in the darkness. If there is any book that will bring you hope in these unsettling times and a quiet joy burrowing to the depths of your soul, look no further.”
—SISTER MARY NORBERT of the Norbertine Canonesses of the Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph

“In the years after the death of the young nun Thérèse Martin, an avalanche of letters from around the world descended on the convent in Lisieux recounting the miracles and answers to prayer given by the saint. This collection of letters from soldiers fighting in the First World War is truly astonishing, moving, and inspiring. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to renew your faith in Christ, your devotion to the saints, and your conviction that God answers prayer and works miracles in the world today.”
—DAN BURKE President, Avila Foundation

“Saint Thérèse is very well known by her fruits, but we don’t know the half of them. For those who think of her as limiting herself to religious life, this book will be a revelation. It shows her weakness in mortal life translated into glorious power on the battlefield, her illness translated into miraculous healing, and her death translated into protection from death. Multiple soldiers present to her their Croix de Guerre for she was there for them on the battlefield: appearing to them in the sky, kneeling in compassion before them, leading them to safety. All of this is told with the innocent directness of the young warriors themselves. These letters are a testimony to the truth of the promise of the Lord Jesus that the one who abided in Him would bear much fruit. Thérèse did both, and we are still learning how much.”
—FR. LUKE BELL author of Staying Tender: Contemplation, Pathway to Compassion

“St Thérèse is often wrongly presented as a dainty, sentimental saint, not the sort to appeal to fighting men facing imminent violent death. But these touching letters from French soldiers show how much affection they had for Thérèse and, if their reports are to be believed, just how much affection she lavished on them in return from Heaven. This fascinating collection of letters amounts to a practical exposition of the doctrine of the Communion of Saints. It will surely instill readers with even more confidence in the intercessory power of the saint of Lisieux.”
—PATRICK KENNY editor of To Raise the Fallen: The War Letters, Prayers, and Spiritual Writings of Fr. Willie Doyle, S.J.

“These letters from the Front will convince all but the most skeptical that the Little Flower was present in the mud, blood, and chaos of the trenches; not only bringing spiritual consolation to the soldiers but protecting many of them from shells and bullets. This a book to deepen your faith in supernatural realities.”
—MAOLSHEACHLANN Ó CEALLAIGH author of Inspiration from the Saints: Stories from the Lives of Catholic Holy Men and Women