Novena to Saints Louis and Zelie Martin

Downloadable Word Document: Litany to Saints Louis and Zelie Martin

Novena to Saints Louis and Zélie Martin

Day One: For Couples and Those Hoping to Form a Household

“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25

“Through the Sacrament of Marriage the spouses are united to God and with their relationship express the love of Christ who gave his life for the salvation of the world.“Since Christ consecrates the love of Christian spouses and is committed to and with them, this fidelity is not only possible but is the way by which to enter into ever greater charity. Thus, in the daily life of the couple and of the family, the spouses learn to love as Christ loves.” -Benedict XVI, Letter on the Occasion of the 10 th International Youth Forum, 2010

“If only you would have the good luck to meet a woman like I want for you, she would be your blessedness, but they are truly rare and I don’t know any. There’s no one but God who could get one to give to you.” – Letter of Zélie to her brother Isidorec.

One day, as she was walking on St Léonard Bridge, Zélie Guérin crossed paths with a young man. At that moment an inner voice whispered to her: “This is the one I have prepared for you.”  The two young people quickly came to admire each other and to love each other. Three months after their first meeting, they were united before God. – This was on July 12, 1858.

“I kiss you with all my heart. I’m so happy today at the thought of seeing you again that I can’t work. Your wife, who loves you more than her life.” – Letter of Zélie to Louis, CF 46

As we begin this novena, let us thank God for the meeting of Louis and Zélie Martin. Let us entrust our intentions to their intercession, and ask the Lord to open the way of blessedness to us as well.

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I shall want.
Fresh and green are the pastures
where he gives me repose.
Near restful waters he leads me,
to revive my drooping spirit.
He guides me along the right path;
he is true to his name.
If I should walk in the valley of darkness
no evil would I fear.
You are there with your crook and your staff;
with these you give me comfort.
You have prepared a banquet for me
in the sight of my foes.
My head you have anointed with oil;
my cup is overflowing.
Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me
all the days of my life.
In the Lord’s house shall I dwell
for ever and ever.
Glory to the Father…

Novena Prayer

O God, in Louis and Zélie Martin you have given us an example of holiness lived in marriage. Look kindly upon the families of our time, and strengthen them with your love; Let young people find in them the support they need to hear your voice and respond to your call. Support the sick and the elderly with your power. Louis and Zélie loved to pray to Notre-Dame des Victoires; through her intercession, we present to you our intention for this novena…
(period of silence, or state the intention)
Watch over us, and lead us at last into your kingdom of love.
Notre-Dame des Victoires, pray for us.
Holy Family of Nazareth, pray for us.
Saints Louis and Zélie Martin, pray for us.

Day Two: Serve God First

“Seek first his kingdom, and all these things shall be yours as well.” Luke 12:31 “

…Prayer, which is personal friendship with Christ and contemplation in him of the face of the Father, is indispensably at the root of the formation of the Christian and of the transmission of the faith. The same is, of course, also true for all our missionary commitment, and particularly for the pastoral care of families: therefore, may the Family of Nazareth be for our families and our communities the object of constant and confident prayer as well as their life model.”
– Benedict XVI, Address to the Participants in the Ecclesial Diocesan Convention of Rome, 6 June 2005

“Something strange happened to me recently with the little one [Thérèse]. I’m used to going to the five-thirty mass. In the beginning I didn’t dare leave her, but seeing that she never woke up, I ended up deciding to leave her alone. I laid her in my bed and moved the crib so close to it that it was impossible for her to fall. “One day, I forgot to move the crib. When I got home I saw the little one was no longer in my bed. At the same moment, I heard a cry. I looked, and I saw her seated on a chair that was close to the head of my bed. Her little head was on the bolster, and there she was sleeping restlessly because she was uncomfortable.” – Letter of Zélie to her daughters Marie and Pauline, CF 119

“Everything I see is splendid, but it’s always an earthly beauty, and our heart is satisfied with nothing as long as we’re not seeing the infinite beauty that is God.” Letter of Louis to his daughter Marie during a trip overseas (Milan), CF 229 Placing our intention for this novena into the Lord’s hands, we tell him of our desire to love him and serve him like Saints Louis and Zélie Martin, knowing that everything will be given to us as well.

Psalm 62
O God, you are my God, for you I long;
for you my soul is thirsting.
My body pines for you
like a dry, weary land without water.
So I gaze on you in the sanctuary
to see your strength and your glory.
For your love is better than life,
my lips will speak your praise.
So I will bless you all my life,
in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul shall be filled as with a banquet,
my mouth shall praise you with joy.
On my bed I remember you.
On you I muse through the night
for you have been my help;
in the shadow of your wings I rejoice.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand holds me fast.
Glory to the Father…

Novena prayer, as on day one.

Day Three: Desire and Welcome Life

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

“The family is the privileged setting where every person learns to give and receive love. That is why the Church constantly wishes to demonstrate her pastoral concern for this reality, so basic for the human person. […] It is the setting where men and women are enabled to be born with dignity, and to grow and develop in an integral manner. “Married couples must accept the child born to them, not simply as theirs alone, but also as a child of God, loved for his or her own sake and called to be a son or daughter of God.” – Benedict XVI, Fifth World Meeting of Families, 8–9 July 2006

“I therefore invite parents to pray, that the hearts of their children may be open to listening to the Good Shepherd, and that each tiny seed of a vocation […] may grow into a mature tree, bearing much good fruit for the Church and for all humanity.” Benedict XVI, Regina Caeli, 25 April 2010 “As for me, I’m crazy about children, I was born to have them, but it will soon be time for that to be over. I’ll be forty-one years old the twenty-third of this month, old enough to be a grandmother.” – Letter of Zélie to her sister-in-law, CF 83

“Don’t worry that your little Jeanne is too lively. That won’t keep her from being an excellent child later on and from being a comfort to you. I remember that Pauline was the same way until the age of two. I was very upset about it, and now, she’s my best child. I must tell you that I didn’t spoil her, and, as little as she was, I didn’t let her get away with anything, yet without making a martyr out of her, but she had to obey.” – Letter of Zélie to her brother Isidore, CF 44

Amid our life’s difficulties, Louis and Zélie Martin remind us that God wants everyone to have superabundant life: he gives it in families through children, and he gives it in other ways as well. Let us open our hearts to receive what the Lord wants to give us.

Psalm 139
O Lord, you search me and you know me,
you know my resting and my rising,
you discern my purpose from afar.
You mark when I walk or lie down,
all my ways lie open to you.
Before ever a word is on my tongue,
you know it, O Lord, through and through.
For it was you who created my being,
knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I thank you for the wonder of my being,
for the wonders of all your creation.
Already you knew my soul,
my body held no secret from you
when I was being fashioned in secret
and molded in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw all my actions,
they were all of them written in your book;
every one of my days was decreed
before one of them came into being.
O search me, God, and know my heart.
O test me and know my thoughts.
See that I follow not the wrong path
and lead me in the path of life eternal.
Glory to the Father…

Novena prayer, as on day one.

Day Four: In Difficulties with Children

“We are God’s fellow workers.” 1 Corinthians 3:9

Speaking on education, Pope Benedict XVI encourages parents and teachers thus: “Continue, therefore, without letting yourselves be discouraged by the difficulties you encounter. The educational relationship is delicate by nature: in fact, it calls into question the freedom of the other who, however gently, is always led to make a decision.” Benedict XVI, Address to the participants in the Ecclesial Diocesan Convention of Rome, 6 June 2005 “I know you’ve learned from her aunt in Le Mans of my poor  Léonie’s departure from the boarding school. As you can imagine, this upsets me greatly. That doesn’t say it enough. This has caused me profound sorrow, which still continues. […] I believe that only a miracle could change her nature. It’s true, I don’t deserve a miracle, and yet I hope against all hope.
“The more I see her being difficult, the more I convince myself that God will not permit
her to remain that way.” – Letter of Zélie to her sister-in-law, CF 117

Louis and Zélie Martin teach us always to press on without getting discouraged, whether in our prayer, in the task of education if we are parents, or in our relationships with our neighbors. This is how we too can become “God’s fellow workers.”

Psalm 46
God is for us a refuge and strength,
a helper close at hand, in time of distress:
so we shall not fear though the earth should rock,
though the mountains fall into the depths of the sea,
even though its waters rage and foam,
even though the mountains be shaken by its waves.
The Lord of hosts is with us:
the God of Jacob is our stronghold.
The waters of a river give joy to God’s city,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within, it cannot be shaken;
God will help it at the dawning of the day.
Nations are in tumult, kingdoms are shaken:
he lifts his voice, the earth shrinks away.
The Lord of hosts is with us:
the God of Jacob is our stronghold.
Come, consider the works of the Lord,
the redoubtable deeds he has done on the earth.
He puts an end to wars over all the earth;
the bow he breaks, the spear he snaps.
He burns the shields with fire.
“Be still and know that I am God,
supreme among the nations, supreme on the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us:
the God of Jacob is our stronghold.
Glory to the Father…

Novena prayer, as on day one.

Day Five: Work and the Duties of One’s State in Life

“Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord.” Colossians 3:17

“From the example of St. Joseph we all receive a strong invitation to carry out with fidelity, simplicity and modesty the task that Providence has entrusted to us. I think especially of fathers and mothers of families, and I pray that they will always be able to appreciate the beauty of a simple and industrious life, cultivating the conjugal relationship with care and fulfilling with enthusiasm the great and difficult educational mission. “May he help every Christian to fulfill God’s will with confidence and love, thereby cooperating in the fulfillment of the work of salvation.” – Benedict XVI, Angelus, 19 March 2006

“I have many problems that other women in my situation don’t have. It’s this awful Alençon lace that makes life difficult. When I have too many orders, I’m a slave to the worst kind of slavery. When it’s not going well and I find myself liable for 20,000 francs out of my own account, and I have to send to other firms the workers who were so hard to find, this gives me reason to worry, as well as nightmares! Oh well, what can I do? I must accept it and come to terms with it as bravely as possible.”- Letter of Zélie to her brother Isidore, CF 15

“Needless to say, your letter made me very happy, except I see that you’ve tired yourself out far too much. So I strongly recommend calm and moderation, above all in your work. I have some orders from the Compagnie Lyonnaise; once again, don’t worry so much. We’ll manage, with God’s help, to build a good little company.” – Letter of Louis to Zélie, CF 2-a

Louis and Zélie Martin both worked hard to provide for the education of their children. In asking for their intercession, let us offer the Lord the duties of our state in life, and increase our prayers for those who lack work.

Psalm 127
If the Lord does not build the house,
in vain do its builders labor;
if the Lord does not watch over the city,
in vain does the watchman keep vigil.
In vain is your earlier rising,
your going later to rest,
you who toil for the bread you eat:
when he pours out gifts on his beloved while they slumber.
Truly sons are a gift from the Lord,
a blessing, the fruit of the womb.
Indeed the sons of youth
are like arrows in the hand of a warrior.
O the happiness of the man
who has filled his quiver with these arrows!
He will have no cause for shame
when he disputes with his foes in the gateways.
Glory to the Father…

Novena prayer, as on day one.

Day Six: Marriage Through the Test of Time

“It was thy word, O Lord, which heals all men.” Wisdom 16:12

“This lack of wine [at the wedding at Cana] brings to mind the moment in a couple’s life when love ends, joy runs out and the enthusiasm of the marriage suddenly drains away. [… But Jesus transforms] the water into wine. We know that this ‘good wine’ is a symbol of salvation, of the new nuptial covenant that Jesus came to make with humanity. Yet every Christian marriage, even the most wretched and insecure one, is a sacrament of precisely this and therefore can find in humility the courage to ask the Lord for help. When a husband and wife in difficulty or even already separated entrust themselves to Mary and turn to the One who made ‘one flesh’ of two, they can be certain that, with the Lord’s help, this crisis will become a passage of growth and that love will emerge from it purified, matured and strengthened.” – Benedict XVI, Address to the World Meeting of the Retrouvaille Movement, 26 September 2008

“I wonder if my plan to go see you will ever be realized. I encounter so many obstacles that I dream about them at night. For example, one time I dreamed that I left, and I saw my husband make a long face, saying that I was leaving him in a predicament. The next day, I told him about my dream, and he said that I had dreamed the truth. He didn’t need to tell me; I know it well. It’s true that it’s not easy for me to be away, above all because of my lace business. And then, when it’s necessary to leave four children for two weeks, it’s a little long. However, I really want to get away, but I don’t know how to do it.” – Letter of Zélie to her brother Isidore, CF 19

As we entrust our intention for this novena to Louis and Zélie Martin, let us consider how they emerged victorious from the test of time, and invoke their fidelity.

Psalm 144
Blessed be the Lord, my rock
who trains my arms for battle,
who prepares my hands for war.
He is my love, my fortress;
he is my stronghold, my savior,
my shield, my place of refuge.
He brings peoples under my rule.
Lord, what is man that you care for him,
mortal man, that you keep him in mind;
man, who is merely a breath,
whose life fades like a shadow?
Reach down from heaven and save me;
draw me out from the mighty waters,
from the hands of alien foes.
Let our sons then flourish like saplings
grown tall and strong from their youth:
our daughters graceful as columns,
adorned as though for a palace.
Let our barns be filled to overflowing
with crops of every kind;
our sheep increasing by thousands,
myriads of sheep in our fields,
our cattle heavy with young,
no ruined wall, no exile,
no sound of weeping in our streets.
Happy the people with such blessings;
happy the people whose God is the Lord.
Glory to the Father…

Novena prayer, as on day one.

Day Seven: Enduring Trials Together

“Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.” Ephesians 5:2

“[It is possible that a] crisis will become a passage of growth and that love will emerge from it purified, matured and strengthened. God alone can do this. He wants his disciples to serve as effective collaborators, to approach couples, listen to them and help them rediscover the hidden treasure of their marriage, the flame that has been buried under the ashes. “It is he who revives this flame and brings it back to life; certainly not in the same way as falling in love, but in a different, more intense and profound manner; but it is always the same flame.” – Benedict XVI, Address to the World Meeting of the Retrouvaille Movement, 26 September 2008

After the death of little Hélène at the age of five, Zélie wrote: “I didn’t expect such a sudden end, nor did my husband. When he came home and saw his poor little daughter dead, he began to sob, crying, “My little Hélène! My little Hélène!” Then together we offered her to God.” – Letter of Zélie to her brother Isidore, CF 52

When her cancer was diagnosed, Zélie wrote to her sister-in-law: “I couldn’t help myself from telling my family everything. I regret it now because there was a grief-filled scene […] My husband is inconsolable. He’s given up the pleasure of fishing and put his lines up in the attic, he doesn’t want to go to the Vital Circle anymore. It’s as if he’s shattered.”
– Letter of Zélie to her sister-in-law, CF 177

We are not alone in the trials we endure: the Lord is with us, as he was with Saints Louis and Zélie Martin. Like us, they knew all kinds of difficulties, and their intercession opens a way of hope for us.

Psalm 130
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord,
Lord, hear my voice!
O let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleading.
If you, O Lord, should mark our guilt,
Lord, who would survive?
But with you is found forgiveness:
for this we revere you.
My soul is waiting for the Lord,
I count on his word.
My soul is longing for the Lord
more than watchman for daybreak.
Let the watchman count on daybreak
and Israel on the Lord.
Because with the Lord there is mercy
and fullness of redemption,
Israel indeed he will redeem
from all its iniquity.
Glory to the Father…

Novena prayer, as on day one.

Day Eight: Abandonment to Providence

“He who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24

“We too must place our trust in God alone. It is tempting to think that today’s advanced
technology can answer all our needs and save us from all the perils and dangers that beset us. But it is not so. “At every moment of our lives we depend entirely on God, in whom we live and move and have our being. Only he can protect us from harm, only he can guide us through the storms of life, only he can bring us to a safe haven.”
Benedict XVI, Apostolic Journey to Malta, 18 April 2010

“I was like you when I began my Alençon lace business, and I made myself sick over it. Now, I’m much more reasonable. I worry much less and resign myself to all the unfortunate events that happen to me, and may happen to me. I tell myself that God allows it, and then I don’t think about it anymore.”
– Letter of Zélie to her brother Isidore, CF 26

“The best thing to do is to put everything in the hands of God and await the outcome in peace and abandonment to his will. That’s what I’m going to try very hard to do.” – Letter of Zélie to her brother Isidore, CF 45

Praying this novena with perseverance, let us confidently place ourselves in the Lord’s hands, and ask for the grace to do his will in all things.

Psalm 143
Lord, listen to my prayer:
turn your ear to my appeal.
You are faithful, you are just; give answer.
Do not call your servant to judgment
for no one is just in your sight.
The enemy pursues my soul;
he has crushed my life to the ground;
he has made me dwell in darkness
like the dead, long forgotten.
Therefore my spirit fails;
my heart is numb within me.
I remember the days that are past:
I ponder all your works.
I muse on what your hand has wrought
and to you I stretch out my hands.
Like a parched land my soul thirsts for you.
Lord, make haste and answer;
for my spirit fails within me.
Do not hide your face
lest I become like those in the grave.
In the morning let me know your love
for I put my trust in you.
Make me know the way I should walk:
to you I lift up my soul.
Rescue me, Lord, from my enemies;
I have fled to you for refuge.
Teach me to do your will
for you, O Lord, are my God.
Let your good spirit guide me
in ways that are level and smooth.
For your name’s sake, Lord, save my life;
in your justice save my soul from distress.
Glory to the Father…

Novena prayer, as on day one.

Day Nine: The Virgin Mary

“Behold, your mother!” John 19:27

“I would like to say, humbly, to those who suffer and to those who struggle and are tempted to turn their backs on life: turn towards Mary! Within the smile of the Virgin lies mysteriously hidden the strength to fight against sickness and for life. With her, equally, is found the grace to accept without fear or bitterness to leave this world at the hour chosen by God. “To seek this smile, is first of all to have grasped the gratuitousness of love; it is also to be able to elicit this smile through our efforts to live according to the word of her Beloved Son, just as a child seeks to elicit its mother’s smile by doing what pleases her. And we know what pleases Mary, thanks to the words she spoke to the servants at Cana: ‘Do whatever he tells you.’” – Benedict XVI, Homily at Lourdes, 15 September 2008

“My dear brother, if you would agree to this one request I’m asking of you, I’d be happier than if you sent me all of Paris. Here it is: you live very close to Notre-Dame des Victoires. Well! Go there just once a day and say a Hail Mary to the Blessed Mother. You’ll see that she’ll protect you in a very special way.” – Letter of Zélie to her brother Isidore, CF 1

“I have nothing new to tell you. I expect my father will tell you all that he knows. Remind him to light a candle for himself and for me in Notre-Dame des Victoires. He promised me he would.” – Letter of Zélie to her brother Isidore, CF 9

“I had the happiness of receiving communion at Notre-Dame des Victoires, which is like a little heaven on earth. I also lit a candle for the intention of our entire family.”
– Letter of Louis to Zélie, CF 2-a

At the end of this novena, let us place all our intentions in the heart of the Virgin Mary. Louis and Zélie Martin drew strength and hope from Notre-Dame des Victoires; she will obtain for us too the grace and peace of God our Father.

Magnificat (Luke 1:46–56)
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.
Glory to the Father…

Novena prayer, as on day one.

Novena translated by Elizabeth and Turner Nevitt from: Neuvaine par l’intercession des
bienheureux Louis and Zélie Martin. Basilique Notre-Dame des Victoires (Paris).
Éditions Salvator: Paris, 2010. Used with permission of Hervé Soubias, rector of the
Basilica of Notre-Dame des Victoires, Paris.  Louis and Zélie Martin. A Call to a Deeper Love: The Family Correspondence of the Parents of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, 1863–1885. Ed. Frances Renda. Trans. Ann Conors Hess. New York: St Paul, 2010. Translation of Correspondance familiale (1863–1885),
Paris: Éditions du   Cerf, 2009.
“Benedict XVI.”
The Psalms: The Grail Translation. 1963.
The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition. 1966.


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