Archbishop Vincent Nichols celebrated Mass with around 100 inmates of Wormwood Scrubs prison, staff and guests in the presence of the relics of St Therese of Lisieux yesterday.
Afterwards prisoners were able to venerate the relics before returning to their wings in West London’s Category B prison. Two of the prisoners served on the altar.
During the Mass Father Anthony Doe preached a homily addressing the relevance of St Therese to those in prison and why she had become such an enduringly popular saint. One of the reasons for her popularity, he said, was because “she went through a dark night of the soul”. “Jesus wanted to be with those who suffer,” he said and it was through St Therese’s illness, pain and suffering that Jesus had revealed himself to her. He urged all to open themselves to the gifts of St Therese through prayer so they could come to know Jesus Christ through suffering and adversity.
Archbishop Nichols later said there had been a remarkable sense of peace in the chapel and during the service. “It reminds us that everyone, no matter how vulnerable, is a spiritual being and has the capacity for peace and wholeness. This is as true for prisoners here in Wormwood Scrubs as it is for anyone else wherever they may be.
“Today’s Mass and veneration in Wormwood Scrubs has been very moving for everyone involved. I am told and have now seen that everywhere the relics of St Therese have been in England and Wales, people from all walks of life are keen to be in her presence. This demonstrates the hunger there is for the spiritual in all of us.”