Michael, my second-grader, unpacked his book bag
and showed me his homework assignment. "Parents.
Please talk about your favorite saint with your
child so that he or she can share in our class
discussion on saints next week."
Leaning over, I picked up the book I had just
finished reading, "Story of a Soul," the
autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux. I gazed
at the sweet, smiling face of the "Little Flower"
on the cover and couldn’t help but smile back.
"Ironic," I thought. "I was in second grade myself
when you first made yourself known to me."
I closed my eyes and could see it clearly: a small
simple medal with that same face smiling up at me
from the sidewalk as I was walking to school. Not
being Catholic at the time, I assumed the image
must be that of Mary. "Probably some lost Holy
Communion present," my mother mused, studying it
that afternoon. "I doubt it’s very valuable. But
you may keep it if you like."
So I tucked the little medal inside my jewelry
box, fascinated but puzzled by the inscription on
the back, "After my death I will let fall a shower
of roses." It wasn’t until I was an adult convert
that I correctly identified St. Therese’s image
and discovered how much she has intervened in my
My son’s voice brought my thoughts back to the
"I’m sorry, Michael. I was just thinking about St.
Therese of Lisieux. She’s a very special saint who
I think has been keeping an eye on me since I was
your age. Would you like me to tell you about
"I guess." His response was about as enthusiastic
as if I had asked him choose between Brussel
sprouts or lima beans for dinner.
Undaunted, I told my son about St. Therese’s short
life as a Carmelite nun and how her obedience,
humility and generosity. I spoke of her tremendous
love for Jesus and I tried to describe her "little
way" to holiness that earned her not only
sainthood but the title Doctor of the Church.
My son was starting to fidget.
"You know," I continued. St. Therese said
something very interesting before she died."
"Oh yeah? What was that?"
"She said that after her death she would let fall
a shower of roses."
The fidgeting stopped. "What?"
"Her nickname is the ‘Little Flower’," I
explained. "A lot of people pray for St. Therese’s
intercession when they have a special need, and
she has been known to confirm requests with a
flower. It happened to me."
"It did?" Now I had his attention. Michael sat
down next to me and took the book from my hands.
I proceeded to describe an experience that
happened to me the year before. While on retreat,
I was plagued with a burning question: was my
mother in heaven? On the last day, I prayed to St.
Therese about this and gathered up the nerve to
ask for the affirmation of a red rose. Almost
immediately, a little red bird landed in the tree
outside of my window and began to sign. "Is this
my sign?" I wondered. A moment later, a young
seminarian strolled by donned in a bright red
sweater. "Or this?" I puzzled. Even the sun seemed
to have a reddish glow about it. "Now I’m seeing
things," I laughed to myself and got up to go to
the closing Mass.
After a beautiful worship service, I joined the
other retreatants in the dining hall for our final
meal together. On each plate was a folded prayer
card with the picture of St. Therese of Lisieux on
the cover. With trembling hands, I opened the
card, and out fell a silk red rose. Since then,
I’ve had no more questions about the whereabouts
of my mother – or St. Therese, for that matter.
"Can I do that?" my son asked, incredulously. "Can
I ask St. Therese something and have her answer me
with a flower?"
"Sure," I answered. "What do you want to know?"
"I want to know if Mrs. Reed is in heaven." His
answer came so fast it surprised me. I was touched
at the concern Michael still had for the beloved
neighbor and surrogate grandmother he had lost a
"Ok," I smiled, "go ahead."
Michael suddenly became very shy. "Can you do it
with me?" he asked sheepishly.
I laughed and pulled him close. "All right," I
said, becoming more serious. "St. Therese, Michael
would like to ask your intercession on something.
He wants to know if our neighbor, Mrs. Reed, is in
heaven yet. Amen."
"You forgot the part about the flower," Michael
"Oh, yes. My son would also like to ask you to
send him a flower in response."
"So, where is it?" demanded Michael, half
"You have to give it time," I replied. "And let
St. Therese do her work."
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Two mornings later, when our conversation about
St. Therese had long been forgotten by me in the
hustle and bustle of busy family life, I was
alarmed by the insistent yelling of my son.
"Mom? Mom!!!" It was coming from the kitchen. I
practically flew downstairs, recognizing the tone
in his voice that said, "This is really
"Mom!" he said, triumphantly when I arrived out of
breath. "My prayer has been answered! I got my
flower! I got my flower! Mrs. Reed is in heaven!"
Dumbfounded, I followed the direction of his
pointed finger. There, on the kitchen table, in a
vase, stood a single yellow rose.
My mouth hung open – then, it all became clear to
me. Our weekly Scripture group had gathered here
the night before. As usual, Mr. Reed had brought a
flower with him to represent the presence of his
wife. He often brought a yellow rose – her
favorite – and this particular one was cut from a
rose bush we had planted in his wife’s honor. In
cleaning up after our meeting, I realized that Mr.
Reed had accidentally left his flower behind. I
was going to run it across the street last night,
but I decided it was too late and I could do it in
the morning. I placed the flower on the kitchen
table and went to bed, never giving it another
For Michael, none of this was important. The only
thing that mattered was this simple yellow rose,
specially delivered to him by a heavenly messenger
"Yes," I answered, choking back my emotion. "St.
Therese certainly has answered your prayer. Not
only did she send you a flower, she sent you one
from Mrs. Reed’s rose bush! What better sign could
you get that Mrs. Reed is in heaven?"
As we hugged, I felt the familiar rush of warm
energy as I soaked in the wonder of divine
intervention. But the real miracle for me was
seeing my son so easily accept it all. I know his
life will be greatly enriched by believing
confidently in the intercession of saints. And his
class presentation on St. Therese won’t be so bad,
Published in Catholic Parent, January/February
Elizabeth Ficocelli is a Catholic author who
writes for children and adults.
For more information, visit