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Book ReviewsStronger than Steel: The soldiers who wrote to St. Thérèse

Angelico Press

While many know the Little Flower’s “Story of a Soul” and the numerous letters she wrote during her short life, very few know of the thousands of letters that have flooded her convent - especially from people undergoing extreme distress. 

“Stronger than Steel,” a recent book published by Angelico Press, fills this void of knowledge. In doing so, it reminds us all that the saints are our friends and their intercession continues to bring the supernatural to our world.

The vast majority of the letters of this collection came from French soldiers fighting the First World War, mostly on their own land. 

France entered the war in 1914 - 17 years after Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face died in Lisieux. Yet Thérèse’s autobiography, “Story of a Soul,” had already begun to transform the decaying Catholic landscape of Central Europe. Tens of thousands of men from all walks of life, serving as soldiers and terrorized in the trenches, called for her intercession and received her response.      

One French soldier wrote of his experience being shot at: “In my distress, I cried out with absolute faith: ‘Over here, Sister Thérèse!’ No sooner had I uttered these words than the saint suddenly appeared to me, bright and with a large halo. With her mighty hand, she abruptly stopped the enemy’s shooting, and not a single shell was released any more, until I arrived in Verdun.” 

Thousands of these soldiers, carrying holy cards, medals, and prayers requesting the intercession of St. Thérèse, wrote during and after the war to the saint’s monastery, Carmel of Lisieux. Their letters expressed their gratitude and told remarkable stories of horrors, miracles, and conversions, without any pretension or embellishment or literary style. 

In just 158 pages, this selection of letters - by both unknown soldiers and decorated generals - reinforces the fact that God, through the intercession of the saints, can actually accomplish true miracles. It rekindles our devotion to the “Little Flower,” to the humble young French Carmelite whom Pope St. Pius X called “the greatest saint of modern times.”

The book Stronger than Steel is published by Angelico Press.

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