Bedroom Martin family's house at Alençon

Sanctuaire d'Alençon - Courtesy of Sanctuaire d'Alençon

INTERVIEW: Celebration at Home of Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin to Rejoice at Canonization

The 21st Century Could Be the Century of the Martin Spouses


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A “Celebration of Families” has been organized at Alencon, in the steps of Saints Louis and Zelie Martin, for this weekend.

The Rector of the Alencon Shrine in Orne, France, Father Jean-Marie Simar, attended the press conference in the Holy See Press Office last Friday, October 16, to present the Canonization of spouses Louis and Zelie Martin. Next to the Rector of the Lisieux Shrine was Father Olivier Ruffray, who attended the Canonization.

Here, Father Simar presents the upcoming “Celebration of Families” to ZENIT’s readers.

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ZENIT: What was your experience at the Canonization of the Martin spouses and how did you feel about the interest in them from all the Continents?

Father Simar: The Canonization was a great joy for me, an altogether particular moment, too fleeting but full of emotions. It is certainly a success: after the assiduous work of many during numerous years, after several months of preparation here at the Shrine of Alencon, Louis and Zelie Martin were proclaimed Saints by Pope Francis. It’s an important stage.

But in reality, all this is only the beginning. In fact, The Holy Father gave them to the universal Church as an example of holiness, very especially for couples and families, but in reality for all. Their witness shows us that holiness is possible in every state of life. They lived a very ordinary life and today they launch this appeal to us to follow them. How? Just as they did it before us, putting God in the first place, at the center of our life.

What joy it was also to see so many that came from the four corners of the earth to attend this event, and that others joined us in their parish or community. Thus I was able to touch how Louis and Zelie are Saints that the Lord gives us for our time and that they come to aid many persons around the world. Moreover, the Father Abbot of Lagrasse said recently: “The 21st century could be the century of the Martin spouses.”

ZENIT: They were canonized but to “spend their Heaven doing good on earth,” as Saint Therese said. Does the Alencon Shrine have this relay vocation between them and today’s families?

Father Simar: Yes, The Alencon Shrine receives in fact this vocation to relay the graces of Louis and Zelie Martin most especially to today’s families. It’s a great grace for us but also an important responsibility. It is, in fact, at Alencon that they were married, that they lived as a couple and as a family. The pilgrims who come to the Shrine, most especially the families, on discovering the places of their life, particularly their home, can learn from Louis and Zelie, and receive the graces there of which they are in need. With our Bishop, Monsignor Jacques Habert, we want to foster that. It is the reason we are seeking to develop, in order to receive the pilgrims better, especially families, and to organize moments for them of resources and retreats at the school of Saints Louis and Zelie.

ZENIT: What is happening at Alencon this weekend?

Father Simar: We are organizing, on October 24 and 25, a great celebration of families in thanksgiving for the Canonization. We already have more than 2,000 people registered. With our Bishop and Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Primate of Gaulles, children and parents, young and less young people, will find themselves around the new Saints. There will be times of prayer, Mass, teachings, symposiums, a performance for children, which will also be proposed to the young. Also present will be Father Rene-Luc, the Anuncio group, the miracle child Carmen and her family. We will close these days with a concert performed by the Schola of Orne. For those who are unable to take part, there will also be a transmission on the Internet.

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Anita Bourdin

France. Journalist accreditated to the Holy See press office since 1995. Started Zenit in french in january 1999. Classical litterature (Paris IV-Sorbonne). Master in journalism (IJRS Bruxelles). Biblical theology (PUG, Rome).

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