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Infos pratiques: Inventaire


It is extremely rare for three saints to come from the same family!

Here in Alençon, you’ll discover the lives of Louis and Zélie Martin, the parents of the world’s best-known saint, "Saint Theresa". Go back in time and let the history of this ordinary family

with an extraordinary destiny transport you.

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"Villes Sanctuaires en France" is an association of 20 shrines and 20 Tourist Offices across France,

united by the common aim of promoting tourism with a spiritual theme and hence making it easier to locate pilgrimage venues where visitors from France and abroad can also enjoy cultural and recreational activities. Spiritual tourism is also an experience-based tourism, a quest for meaning, for a return to the roots, and a search for places that inspire us into faith and beyond. 

At the tourist office or the Louis & Zélie Shrine, pick up the free "In the footsteps of the Martin Family" tour brochure to explore the iconic sites of Alençon that tell their story.


A little history...

One fine day in 1858, on the Pont de Sarthe bridge, Zélie Guérin, a young lacemaker, crossed the path of Louis Martin, a clockmaker. The story goes that at that very moment, she heard the words "He is the one I have destined for you". Love at first sight or an "arranged" meeting? Whatever it was, it resulted in the couple exchanging vows

in Notre-Dame church, at midnight on 13th July 1858. That was the start of their family life and the bond of humanity and spirituality in which their five daughters were raised following a creed of "serving God first".

It was this education that allowed the youngest daughter, Theresa, to become Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus. 
In 2015, the couple were the first to be canonised together for being an example to many Christians. 
Alençon is, then, an essential chapter in the life of the Martin family.

Discover the sites that bear witness to their time here: the bridge where the couple first met, the house

where Saint Theresa was born, and the basilica where she was baptised.



The nuns of the Brazilian "Carmelites of the Holy Spirit" community and the shrine staff invite you all year round to discover the Martin family’s story. As you enter the house, you’re immediately plunged into the Martins’ daily lives. Here is where the five girls and their parents led their day-to-day existence in joy, grief and prayer.

Take time to observe the gallery of family items: Zélie’s wedding ring, Louis’ fishing rods and Theresa’s little toy basket that features in her book "The Story of a Soul". This place oozes with calm and serenity and 
you cannot help but feel a certain presence. The tour’s layout and features seem to prepare you for an encounter,

as if the family were still present. You can almost imagine Zélie writing one of her letters and Louis sitting at his desk, weighing pieces of lace, touched by the voice of young Theresa calling her mother from the top of the stairs. 
Upstairs, you’ll visit the adjoining chapel that was built to mark the occasion of Theresa’s canonisation in 1925.

Next comes an emotional moment as you enter the room where Theresa was born,

to see her cot and her parents’ bed.

 Sanctuaire Louis et Zélie  

50, rue Saint-Blaise 61000 Alençon  

T. +33 (0)2 33 26 09 87   www.louisetzé  


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The church of Notre-Dame became a basilica in 2009 after the beatification of Louis and Zélie.

Built during the Hundred Years’ War, it abounds with testimonies to Alençon life through the centuries.

It is a key pilgrimage site because it was under these high arches that the marriage of Louis and Zélie Martin

took place, as well as Theresa’s baptism in 1873 and, 4 years later, Zélie’s funeral.


• The baptistery in the first chapel on the left 
• Theresa’s christening robe, still intact, in the young Saint’s reliquary
• The main church organ dating from 1537 and restored in 2016 
• The Tree of Jesse stained-glass window above the organ 
• The 1536 pulpit with steps built into the pillar 
• The chapel dedicated to Louis and Zélie which also contains a reliquary and an enlarged version

of a drawing of the family by Céline, Theresa’s older sister
• The 18th-century Baroque altar with a sculpture of the Assumption of Mary, found above the dukes’ vault

which was desecrated during the Revolution 
• The portal and the statue of Saint-Jean, looking at Christ with his back turned 


Lieu-dit Le Carrouges 61250 Semallé

This modest house of stone and brick was the home of baby Theresa from 1873 to 1874, shortly after her birth. Suffering from breast cancer and unable to breastfeed, her mother, Zélie, entrusted her to Rose Taillé, a young wet nurse from Semallé. After saving the child’s life, the young woman became a very close friend of the Martin family. This house, where the great saint took her first steps, can be visited and indeed attracts many pilgrims.

 Open from May to October: 
on the 1st Sunday of each month from 2pm to 6pm. At other times group tours can be arranged 
by booking ahead on +33 (0)2 33 26 10 61. 

©Christian Dupont, Club photo d'Alençon



Our retailers place a spotlight on Saint Theresa and her parents. You’ll find an irresistible chocolate Saint Theresa at Pedro’s chocolate shop (36 Grande Rue), a Louis & Zélie chocolate medallion at Glatigny’s (44 Grande Rue),

and many more items featuring the Martin family (books, comic books, medallions, prayer beads, etc.)

at the tourist office and sanctuary shops. 

©M.A. Thierry, Normandie Tourisme

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