St. Therese of Lisieux, largely unknown when she died in a Carmelite convent at the age of twenty-four, became - through her posthumously published autobiography - one of the world's most influential religious figures. No less a luminary than Andre Gide modeled one of his characters after her in his novel STRAIT IS THE GATE. Originally the pampered daughter of successful and highly religious tradespeople, Therese appealed personally to the Pope to let her enter the convent at the age of fifteen. There, Therese embraced sacrifice and self-renunciation in a single-minded pursuit of the "nothingness" she felt would bring her closer to God. Her ascetic practices enabled her to undergo even the scourge of tuberculosis, which only deepened her spiritual intensity even as it would take her life.
Saint Therese of Lisieux