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Pope Names St. Therese of Lisieux Doctor Of The Church October 20, 1997

VATICAN CITY (CWN) - Pope John Paul named St. Therese of the Child Jesus a Doctor of the Church on Sunday, only the third time such an honor has been bestowed on a woman.

"In answer to the wishes of a great number of my brother bishops and a multitude of the faithful throughout the world, after having consulted with the Congregation for the Cause of the Saints, and after having obtained the advice of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in approval of the doctrine, and after long deliberation ... we declare as Doctor of the Universal Church, St. Therese of the Infant Jesus and the Holy Face, virgin," said the Holy Father in bestowing the honor.

St. Therese of Lisieux, France, also known as "The Little Flower," was only 24-years-old when she died in 1897 of tuberculosis, but the Holy Father's proclamation naming her the 33rd Doctor in the history of Church, a title given to certain saints whose writings have been of fundamental influence in the development of the Church's teachings. St. Catherine of Siena and St. Teresa of Avila were named Doctors by Pope Paul VI in 1970.

"Among the Doctors of the Church, Therese of the Child Jesus and Holy Face is the youngest, but her spiritual itinerary shows such maturity and the intuitions of her faith expressed in her writings are so vast and so profound, that they merit a place among the great spiritual masters," the Holy Father said in his homily in St. Peter's Square. Relics of the saint were transported from France and placed in a special gold urn in St. Peter's.

The Holy Father announced during World Youth Day in Paris in August that he would bestow the title on St. Therese on World Mission Sunday, October 19. Although the young nun entered the Carmelite cloister at age 15 and never traveled except for a brief pilgrimage to Rome, she is patron saint of missionaries because of her promise to pray for all missions. The Pontiff also declared St. Therese a role model for young people. "Therese of Lisieux is a saint who remains young, despite the years that pass, and she is an eminent model for Christians of our day along the road to the third millennium," he said.