"Rose petals" evenings, ‘Little Flower’ intercedes to grant the impossible

Paris - For over three decades, the Community of the Beatitudes has held "rose petals" evenings dedicated to the beloved French saint, Therese de Lisieux (1873–1897).

The concept is beautifully simple: Devotees pen heartfelt letters to the "Little Flower," a cherished term of endearment for the saint, beseeching her intercession for graces. A year later, these letters are returned to their writers. Remarkably, many testify to receiving these requested graces—even those that seemed impossible when they first reached out to the saint.

Image Courtesy - Beatitudes Community

The origins of these inspiring vigils, which are now conducted on five continents, trace back to 1992 in Lisieux, Normandy, where Therese spent her formative years as a Carmelite nun. Jean-Francois Callens, a member of the Beatitudes community who was then in charge of the spiritual program for a vigil held in the basilica dedicated to Therese, initiated the tradition.

On that memorable evening, Callens invited attendees to compose letters to Therese, distributing envelopes with the promise of returning them a year later. He asked, "Do you think, my friends, that she will keep her word and rain roses down on us?" To everyone's astonishment, genuine rose petals fell upon the gathering.

Was it a miracle? Not quite—it was more of a profound sign. In preparation for the event, Callens had enlisted community members to visit local florist shops and gather all the rose petals they could find. Their plan was to shower these petals from the basilica's catwalk, compelling the discouraged to believe that their prayers were not isolated or lost.

Encouraged by this initial shower of blessings, the Beatitudes community continued this tradition across all their houses. Sister Marie-Liesse Bigot, who played a pivotal role from the beginning, expanded this initiative globally, particularly in New Zealand and the United States, where she has resided. Even today, she hosts numerous evenings each year around October 1, St. Therese's feast day. She has also compiled letters from these gatherings into a French book titled "Je passerai mon ciel à faire du bien sur la terre; fioretti des Soirees Petales de roses" (I want to spend my heaven doing good on earth).

In 2023, a year of dual jubilees for Therese of Lisieux—marking the 150th anniversary of her birth (January 2, 1873) and the 100th anniversary of her beatification (April 29, 1923)—Bigot aims to expand the number of rose petals vigils. The core objective of this initiative is to rekindle hope, as Bigot explained. She desires people to rediscover the simple, often taken-for-granted, popular faith and emphasizes that "the Lord works for the little ones."

Bigot stressed that during the vigil, the focus is not solely on Therese; it's ultimately on Jesus. The event features the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, sometimes bringing out the monstrance from the sacristy of country churches. It also serves as an opportunity to offer the sacrament of reconciliation to those distanced from the Church.

Bigot recounted an extraordinary experience in the Jura region of France where the parish priest made himself available for confessions during an evening. He heard the confession of someone who had not confessed in 30 years. For that individual alone, the 800-kilometer round trip was undoubtedly worthwhile.

Bigot emphasized Therese's innate ability to attract individuals. Even in regions with diminished faith, such as Poitiers, she witnessed churches filled to capacity during these evenings. Therese's appeal transcends boundaries, reaching intellectuals, children, and individuals of all generations.

Bigot shared numerous stories of graces she has witnessed. Writing a letter, she explained, allows people to see God at work in the small details of their lives. She noted that people often forget the miracles they ask for because they forget their prayers. Even she is surprised every year by what she wrote in her own letter.

Bigot recounted a touching three-year story. In 1998, during a difficult period of wavering faith, she hosted a rose petals evening in the United States. She prayed for a couple in the congregation who couldn't have children. A year later, she received her letter, and it included the news that Jeanne had been born. Overwhelmed, she felt the Lord's assurance that He was taking care of her.

A priest writing a letter to St. Therese of Lisieux during a "rose petals" evening of prayer in Vismara, province of Milan, Italy, September 2017. Credit: Beatitudes Community

But the story didn't stop there. A woman in the United States, hearing Bigot's testimony about the couple, began praying for her dentist, married for 14 years without children. Three months later, the dentist told her, "We are pregnant." The following year, they had twins. Another woman, inspired by the testimony, prayed for her daughter, who had experienced repeated miscarriages. The next month, her daughter became pregnant.

Bigot marveled at this "contagion of witness." She noted that people have found jobs, homes, reconciliation, healing, and other incredible blessings. These evenings have now spread to various countries, including France, Italy, Germany, Kazakhstan, the USA, Alaska, Mali, and even China. Therese's universal appeal has touched hearts across all walks of life.

So, what sets apart a letter to the Little Flower from one addressed to Santa Claus? Bigot explained that in the letter to Therese, one entrusts their faith and hope with unwavering trust, as Therese's message underscores God as a loving Father who cares for His children. It's not magic or a mere wish list; it's a heartfelt plea, a surrender to God's will.

Bigot reminded us that during these rose petals evenings, it's not Therese who listens but Jesus. These gatherings carry a glimpse of heaven, where graces are freely bestowed upon those who come with open hearts. She encourages everyone to seize these graces when they arrive, affirming that "Therese attracts whoever she wants."

The comments posted here are not from Cnews Live. Kindly refrain from using derogatory, personal, or obscene words in your comments.