By Ava Robbins
Hidden in a quiet residential area of Boonton Township lies the Shrine of St. Therese. The shrine is a small church built by its original owner, Achille Arci, out of his immense gratitude towards St. Therese. In the 1920s, Arci was diagnosed with an incurable disease by several doctors, but eager to disprove them, he spent his sick days praying to Saint Therese. He made a promise to her that if she saved him, he would build a shrine in her honor and pay his respects in France.
Saint Therese, known as “Little Flower,” answered Arci’s prayers. After he was healed, Arci gathered a community of Catholics like himself to assist in raising funds for building the beautiful shrine. Over 100 years later, the vibrant stained glass windows remain one of its most eye-catching features.
Saint Therese was born in France in 1873, and died there in 1897. She is the patron saint of missions and florists, even earning herself the nickname “Little Flower”’ because she saw herself as one of God’s “little flowers.” Saint Therese earned popularity because of how she symbolizes a practical and simplistic approach to following one’s faith, and was even referred to as “the greatest Saint of modern times” by Pope Pius X. Saint Therese’ memory and religious powers are able to live on today in Arci’s church, also in thanks to the upkeep his family still provides.
As of 2021, the shrine has found yet another purpose: a prayer group meeting place. Carol Bsarany thought the shrine would be a perfect place to pray the rosary, and in honor of Saint Therese, also the Memorare and Novena Prayer. Her small group of originally seven has transformed, over the years, with now over one hundred members meeting regularly to join together and pray inside the shrine’s historic walls.
Located at 54 Rock Lane in Boonton, The Shrine of Saint Therese is certainly a spot every resident should check out, whether it be to see the mesmerizing stained glass up close, feel connected to its historical roots, or to enjoy a quiet place to reflect.