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31 May 2021

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux at UNESCO

On April 16, 2021, the UNESCO Executive Council approved the candidacy of Thérèse of the Child Jesus for the 2022/2023 biennial, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of her birth. It should also be noted, by the way, that 2023 will also be the year of the 100th anniversary of her beatification (29/04/1923). This application was submitted by the French State and the Lisieux Basilica. For the 2022/2023 biennial, UNESCO wants to “honor the memory of the people who have worked in the fields of peace, education, science, social sciences and communication”. Thérèse competed with 60 personalities from 47 states. Among her competitors were three other Catholics: Copernicus (Poland), Nerses (Armenia) and Mendel (Czech Republic).

In mid-April, Thérèse won the first stage! She is the only woman among the 4 nominations selected. She will therefore represent France at UNESCO! Belgium and Italy support this candidacy. UNESCO stated that “the celebration of this anniversary will contribute to giving greater visibility and justice to the women who have promoted, through their actions, the values of peace”. Given the celebrity of Thérèse of Lisieux in the Catholic community (the city of Lisieux is the second place of pilgrimage in France after Lourdes), the celebration of her anniversary can be an opportunity to emphasize the role of women within religions, in the fight against poverty and in promoting inclusion.

A French woman saint, with world influence, a Doctor of the Church: UNESCO could soon honor little Thérèse as a World Heritage Person. This is a surprising and extraordinary message that heaven is giving us in these times of the pandemic. However, it will not be until November 2021 that we will know if Thérèse will be officially honored by UNESCO.