Thérèse Martin and Lisieux
Thérèse Martin was born in 1873 in Alençon to a watchmaker father and a lace-maker mother. At the age of five, following the death of her mother, she moved with her family to Lisieux. She entered the Carmelite convent at the age of 15 to become a nun. When she fell ill with tuberculosis, she wrote her memoirs and recorded her way of conceiving religion before dying at the Carmel of Lisieux in 1897 at the age of 24.
Lisieux, place of pilgrimage to Sainte-Thérèse
Thérèse’s spiritual memoir, L’Histoire d’une Âme (The Story of a Soul), would later be published and achieve huge worldwide success. Pilgrims flocked to Lisieux. Thérèse was beatified in 1923 and canonised in 1925. The construction of a church, a site of pilgrimage dedicated to Sainte-Thérèse in Lisieux then began. France’s second most famous pilgrimage site after Lourdes, Lisieux is known around the world thanks to Sainte-Thérèse.
One of the largest churches built in the 20th century
The construction of the Basilica of Lisieux began in 1929 and was blessed only 8 years later, in 1937. Consecrated in 1954, the Basilica of Lisieux, with its mixture of neo-Byzantine influence and Art Deco style, takes its inspiration from the Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre in Paris, Notre-Dame de Fourvière in Lyon and Notre-Dame de la Garde in Marseille.
A unique and vast nave
The Basilica of Lisieux differs from other votive churches: here, worshippers do not wander freely around the relics. There is a gigantic nave with a seating capacity of 4,000. The impression of grandeur thanks to this unique scale accentuates the already vast dimensions: 37 metres under the vault and 50 metres under the dome.
Breathtaking interior decoration
The walls of the upper basilica and the crypt are decorated with mosaics that reflect the message of Sainte-Thérèse. Visitors can admire a real cocktail of colours and shapes. The stained-glass windows foster a blue aura creating an atmosphere of intimacy and calm. The mosaics and stained-glass windows are the work of Jean Gaudin and his son Pierre Gaudin.
Saints Louis and Zélie Martin in the crypt
At 50 metres long and 30 metres wide, the vast crypt is divided into three naves. Decorated entirely with mosaics, it is a jewel of Art Deco style. The relics of Sainte-Thérèse’s parents, Saints Louis and Zélie Martin, can be found in the crypt of the Basilica of Lisieux.