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St Theresa's relics arrive in Baghdad

 The relics of St Theresa of Lisieux arrived in Baghdad on Wednesday. A special Mass took place in the Chaldean Cathedral of St Joseph which was attended by hundreds of worshippers. Archbishop Jean Seligman, head of Baghdad's Latin-rite Catholics, asked for the relics to be brought to Iraq in time for today, which has been designated as a Day of Prayer for Peace through Iraq's Christian communities. According to Vatican Radio, the relics will now stay in the country until the end of the year. They were brought from Lebanon after a two-and-a-half-month visit there. "May the visit of the sacred relics that arrive in Iraq, urgent and crucial, banish the ghost of war, from Iraq and from the whole region," said the Patriarch of Antioch for Maronites, Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir. In Lebanon last Friday, the relics were taken to the 5,000-inmate Roomier prison in north Beirut where Cardinal Sfeir inaugurated a re-education centre and outpatient clinic. Fr Raymond Lamella, rector of the Basilica of Lisieux, said that the Church "always respected the custom of praying in the presence of the remains of those whom we knew and liked." "We are not pure spirits and we need signs," he said. "Precisely the relics of the saints are to be regarded as the very humble and very fragile signs of what were their bodies. In the presence of the relics we can thus evoke more easily their human condition: It is with their body that the saints acted, thought, requested, worked, suffered and experienced death." Throughout 2003 the relics will be taken to Mauritius, the island of Reunion, the Seychelles, Scotland and Spain. For more information visit the official Lisieux website at: http://therese-de-lisieux.cef.fr/