19th Century Photo of St. Therese with Crosses in Eyes


I posted here aabut a year ago about this as well as other places looking for a reasonable explantion but I still have not found one so I thought I would try again. Below is from my blog and explains the details:

"About a year ago I set up a special page detailing the devotion of St. Therese of Lisieux to St. Joan of Arc. The page contains poems about St. Joan as well as several pictures of St. Therese dressed as St. Joan for a play that she had written to honor St. Joan. You can see the page at:

After I shared the page with an online group about Joan of Arc where I am a member one of the ladies noticed something remarkable in one of the pictures of St. Therese. There are crosses in her eyes. We had quite a discussion at the group trying to explain the crosses and several theories were put forward which motivated me to do more research into the photographs. I found out that St. Therese’s sister Celine was an avid photographer who took many photos of St. Therese which are contained in a book titled The Photo Album of St. Therese of Lisieux

I obtained a copy of this book from a local Catholic University and was most interested to see if the crosses were still visible in her eyes in the original photographs. The book states that the photographs are “un-retouched” and “reproduced directly from the plates developed in the late 19th century.” Remarkable, the crosses are still visible in the same picture although it is a little harder to see them. The other valuable information that the book contained was a map of the Carmelite convent and some descriptions of the different courtyards and the locations where the pictures were taken.

From my own limited investigation I have not been able to find any plausible earthly explanation for the crosses in St. Therese’s eyes. I figured that over the course of the past year someone more knowledgeable in photographic techniques of the 19th century would give me an explanation but so far that has not happened. I guess at this point I am wondering if this is indeed a real miraculous occurrence that no one previously noticed until the photograph was digitally prepared for the Internet. If so then it is time that everyone knows about it thus the purpose of this blog entry."


Thanks for posting that. I had no idea St. Therese was such a beautiful woman. I’ve only ever seen the picture of her as a little girl. There’s almost a luminous quality to her face, even in those old black and whites. The fact that she gave everything, including her beauty, to Christ makes her that much more beautiful.


Very True :thumbsup:



God is good-all the time.
All the time-God is good!

+Peace In Christ.


Yes, St. Therese was a very beautiful woman who gave all she had to the Lord. From what I remember about the comments in the book by the other nuns in the convent with her, they were disappointed that the pictures did not do more justice to St. Therese. Imagine that!


My first thought was that this could be the reflection of light sometimes seen from spheres such as this television tower in East Berlin. In that case, it’s accentuated by the tiling of the sphere. However, in the picture at the bottom of your page the cross comes to a definite end, whereas a cross-shaped spherical reflection should narrow but continue to the edge of the sphere.

Instead, I think we have the intentional use of catchlight by the photographer. I’m not sure whether the lit cross was a readily available feature where this was taken, or if the photographer created one for this photo. From the reading you pointed us to, it appears Therese was willing to indulge the creative work of photographers, whether her sister or someone else. In the case of this photographer, he created a wonderfully evocative image that captures what we believe about St. Therese.


Oh Ye have such little Faith.


I’d say it’s a reasonable explanation but then again I don’t believe in the Shroud of Turin or a number of so-called Marian apparitions as they strain credibility in many cases. Occam’s razor applies here.


If you are truly able to judge the depth of someone’s faith based on discussion of a photograph, that is an impressive talent.


You do understand this is exactly the approach the Church takes when looking into miracles right?


lol! She died in 1897. Just how much “doctoring up” do you think photographers DID back then? What are those photos, on glass? Tin types?


Miracles abounded with her. Basillicas were built and named after her. She is spending her Heaven doing good on earth!

God did not wind up the world—and leave us waaaay out here on our own.

Miracles happen all the time.

+Dominus Vobiscum.


Doubting Thomas didn’t believe it was Christ until he put his fingers into his wounds.

As long as you don’t trump the Church in judgement-and mislead others.

God is good-all the time.
All the time-God is good!

+Peace in Christ.


From the December 19, 1884 issue of The Photographic News,

It sometimes happens that in lighting a sitter the catch-lights are not the same on both eyes. I will show you how to take out a false light, and so save many a negative that would otherwise be almost worthless.

Do not be frightened to touch your negative. You will thus soon be quite at home at the work, and after a little practice you will find retouching a valuable aid to development, print, &c.

From the July 9, 1875 issue of The Photographic News:

Many retouchers take out the pupil of the eye with a needle point, and work in a catch light in place of the natural light. Nothing, I think, can be worse, as it gives a staring and unnatural expression. The negative (if good) of a sitter properly illuminated should give the eyes of proper tone, and with a good catch light, which at most may require strengthening a trifle.

So 20 years before the photo was taken, it was widely understood among photographers what a good catchlight was, and how to touch up the negative if the catchlight was insufficient. Although I may be misled by the printing process, I think the catchlight in the photo is a bit too natural-looking in its grayscale to be from a touched-up negative, and more likely to be an intentional prop at the time the portrait was taken. On the other hand, it’s a bit ragged-looking to be a supernatural intervention of God on the portrait.

A textbook from 1864 called The Camera and the Pencil discusses unflattering round catchlights, and immediately after that suggests that a screen be provided with some object for the subject to look at. Seems to me it would be pretty easy to cut a cross-shaped hole in the movable dark screen already present.


My dear friend

I think the Crosses have been put in the photo/s miraculously by the Blessed Holy Trinity as a sign to us of her great sanctity. I have no doubts at all.

May God bless you and the Little Flower shower you with blessings:thumbsup::slight_smile:



Amen (I believe).

Oh so many miracles came through this little Saint! As a child, Christ played with her!

There are some who will never believe, no matter what.

Oh well. I do, anyway. Yet another miracle. Thousands and thousands. She is so powerful with God-her intercession! He is showing us once more-just that.

+For the Sake of His Sorrowful Passion,
Have Mercy on us, and on the whole world!



And? There you have it.

You believe in the photographer; I believe in God when it comes to this image.

One day, we’ll both know all truths. Until then, I believe…I believe. Thank You, God.

+Peace In Christ.


Do you believe in Divine Mercy?

<-Look! It’s the same image!
(from EWTN)

Cool. Jesus, I believe! I Trust in YOU!


Yes, Therese is/was very beautiful. Even more so because of how her Holiness shows thru in her eyes and smile. Especially pictures of her prior to her death. You can see the pain in her eyes but still she has that knowing smile. Also if you look you can find a picture of her at her viewing just after her death. Her smile changes to contentment.

I am going to go with those that see crosses in the photo and take it as one of those unexplained miracles. But, I am biased, I am very fond of the little flower, her life and her lessons in the little way. :thumbsup:

– Cadian :knight1:


Thank-you so much for sharing this, poetbdk. You’ve lent a lot of beauty to my day. I’m going to dwell on this.


I love St Therese :slight_smile: she’s such a great friend to have. She’s helped me many times, especially in my conversion to Catholicism.

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