Steven D. Greydanus
National Catholic Register
Overall Recommendability: A+
Miracle of Saint Thérèse [is] an excellent, reverent biopic on the life of St. Thérèse Martin of Lisieux. . . . Neither the vaguely sentimental-sounding English title Miracle of Saint Therese nor the strangely officious original French title Procès au Vatican (Cause in the Vatican) really reflects the achievement of this well-made biopic.
The film does begin and end with documentary-style footage of Thérèse’s cause for canonization. And it does include a number of small miracles, including Thérèse’s dramatic recovery at the age of eight from a life-threatening illness upon seeing a statue of Mary smile at her, and the adorning of her entry into Carmel by an unusual April snowfall.
Yet the film is neither the story of a miracle nor a treatise on Thérèse’s case for canonization, unless the miracle and the case are both Thérèse’s own life. Blending historical drama with elements of documentary, Miracle of Saint Thérèse effectively brings the saint’s story and spirituality to life.
The film offers a number of glimpses into Therese’s “little way” of spiritual childhood, including the conflict occasioned by the contrast between Therese’s insights and the accepted pieties of the day.
This is the acclaimed dramatic feature film made in France in 1960 that tells the story of the life of Thérèse of Lisieux from childhood through her death as a Carmelite nun at age 24. Film critics have called it “an excellent, reverent biopic” on St. Thérèse that accurately portrays the saint’s story and her unique spirituality in a very appealing performance by French actress France Descaut. The movie offers numerous glimpses into Thérèse’s “little way” of spiritual childhood, (her particular charism that helped make her a Doctor of the Church) including situations of conflict between Therese and her mother prioress regarding her conviction of striving for perfection with confidence and trust in the mercy and love of God. Beautifully filmed in black and white, with fine performances by the whole cast, this film is an unsung cinematic gem that captures the spirit and life of the beloved St. Thérèse.