St Thérèse of Lisieux’s Devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus

St Thérèse of Lisieux’s full name in religion was St Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. It was on the day that she received the Habit that she herself added the title “and of the Holy Face” to her name.  At the beatification process of St. Thérèse, her older sister,  “little Mother” Pauline (Mother Agnes of Jesus), who had introduced St. Thérèse to this devotion, testified:
Devotion to the Holy Face was the Servant of God’s special attraction. As tender as was her devotion to the Child Jesus, it cannot be compared to her devotion to the Holy Face.

Three years before entering the Carmelites St. Thérèse, together with her whole family, had registered as members of the Archconfraternity of Reparation to the Holy Face at Tours, France. (St. Thérèse had such love for Sister Mary of St. Peter, through whom our Lord gave us this devotion, that she wore a relic of her hair, and carried her picture in her New Testament which she kept close to her heart.)

We read about this devotion to the Holy Face in Thérèse’s own words in “Story Of A Soul”, page 152:

“The little flower transplanted to Mt. Carmel was to expand under the shadow of the cross. The tears and blood of Jesus were to be her dew, and her sun was His adorable Face veiled with tears. Until my coming to Carmel, I had never fathomed the depths of the treasures hidden in the Holy Face. It was through you, dear Mother, that I learned to know these treasures. Just as formerly you had preceded us to Carmel, so also you were the first to enter deeply into the mysteries of love hidden in the Face of our Spouse. You called me and I understood. I understood what REAL GLORY was. He whose Kingdom is not of this world showed me that truth wisdom consists in “desiring to be unknown and counted as nothing,” in “placing one’s joy in the contempt of self.” Ah! I desired that, like the Face of Jesus, “my face be truly hidden, that no one on earth would know me.” (Isaias 53:3) I thirsted after suffering and I longed to be forgotten.”

While lying sick in the infirmary on August 5, 1897, with the picture of the Holy Face hung upon the curtains of her bed, St. Thérèse said to Mother Agnes:

“These words of Isaias: “Who has believed our report?…There is no beauty in Him, no comeliness, etc.,” have made the whole foundation of my devotion to the Holy Face, or to express it better, the foundation of all my piety.” (Is. 53:1-3 & 63:1-3)

And earlier on the same day she said:

“How well Our Lord did lower His eyes when He gave us His portrait! Since the eyes are the mirror of the soul, if we had seen His soul, we would have died from joy. Oh how much good that Holy Face has done in my life!”


Here is a beautiful song based on St Thérèse’s own poem, “Canticle to the Holy Face” (English translation HERE).


O Jesus, who in Thy bitter Passion didst become “the most abject of men, a man of sorrows”, I venerate Thy Sacred Face whereon there once did shine the beauty and sweetness of the Godhead; but now it has become for me as if it were the face of a leper! Nevertheless, under those disfigured feature, I recognise Thy infinite Love and I am consumed with the desire to love Thee and make Thee loved by all men. The tears that thou hast shed so abundantly appear to me as so many precious pearls that I Love together up, in order to purchase the souls of poor sinners by means of their infinite value. O Jesus, whose adorable Face ravishes my heart, I implore Thee to fix deep within me Thy divine Image, to set me on fire with Thy Love, and to make me worthy to contemplate in Heaven Thy glorious Face. Amen.


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