Today is the feast day of the Little Flower, Thérèse of Lisieux. Many are the things that could be said about her little way of sanctity. For tragic reasons, one event of her life in particular stands out for me today.
Before entering Carmel, St. Thérèse experienced something of an awakening around Christmas of 1887. Around that time, she had heard of the story of Henri Pranzini, the cold-blooded killer of two ladies and a child. Immediately, St. Thérèse decided to adopt him as her own and pray for conversion. As the newspapers recounted the days leading up to the murderer’s execution, however, he refused the priest on every occasion.
But just before being beheaded, Pranzini seized a crucifix and kissed it three times, which the Little Flower took as her spiritual victory for his repentant soul.
Around January of this year, Dominicans from around the province received word that there had been a parking lot murder in one of our parishes in Ohio. The elderly woman killed, apparently for her pocketbook, was a daily communicant, as she had been for some sixty-plus years. The morning of January 23rd was to be her Viaticum. (I sent in a reflection to the city’s paper, as the parish holds a special place in my heart.)
Just last week, we were told that another couple from that same Church of St. Dominic in Youngstown, OH was shot, this time, while driving home from church.
St. Dominic’s Saturday morning receptionist has survived, but her husband was killed.
The city of Youngstown has been especially besieged by violence and murder in recent years (having been ranked the 15th most dangerous city in the nation).
Let us pray for the restoration of order and justice in Youngstown, and for the safety and healing of our brothers and sisters at St. Dominic’s.
And, inspired by the Little Flower, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, let us also pray for the conversion of killers.