Leonie Martin (1863-1941) was one of the five daughters of Zelie and Louis Martin, recently canonized saints by Pope Francis, and a sister of St. Therese of Lisieux. She was the least gifted of the five Martin sisters, an emotionally disturbed child who suffered and caused anguish in her family. Her heroic mother Zelie suffered most of all because of the challenges she endured from Leonie.
Marie Baudouin-Croix, has carefully examined Zelie's correspondence with her daughters, her sister, her brother, and her sister-in-law. We see the backward child in Leonie, the despair of many, and yet the one who was the first to follow Therese's "Little Way." It was only after three valiant but unsuccessful attempts to enter consecrated religious life that Leonie was finally accepted by the Visitation Order in Caen.
In her life as a Visitation nun she succeeded in conquering a tough temperament and other personal challenges, so that by the time of her death in 1941 at the age of seventy-eight, she was regarded as a saint and her convent at Caen has been inundated with letters testifying to her posthumous intercessory aid.
How did the troubled child and unhappy teenager turn into the sister everyone remembered as so kind, serene, and happy that they could not believe she had a difficult childhood? She discovered God within herself, in her weakness and suffering, and she became a great disciple of Therese's "way of confidence and love." Leonie practiced the "Little Way" so well that in 2015 the cause for her sainthood was been opened by the Church.