London prepares to greet relics of St Thérèse of Liseux

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux

The relics of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, due to arrive in London this Sunday, 11 October, are expected to draw thousands of pilgrims during their five day stay in the capital. Pilgrims will be able to see and venerate the relics, housed in a casket which contains bones from the thigh and foot of the 24 year old Carmelite saint.

The relics will arrive at the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St Simon Stock in Kensington on the evening of Sunday 11 October. They will then be taken to Wormwood Scrubs Prison on Monday morning where prisoners will have the opportunity to spend time with the relics. The relics will then be moved to Westminster Cathedral and are due to arrive at 6.30pm on Monday 12 October where they will be blessed on the steps of the Cathedral by Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster John Arnold.  The relics will remain at Westminster Cathedral until a Mass of Farewell celebrated by the Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols on Thursday 15 October at 3.30pm.

Westminster Cathedral is preparing to welcome up to 100,000 pilgrims who are expected to come and see the relics, as well as attend special services and an all night vigil. 100,000 candles have been ordered for the occasion as well as 50,000 pink roses in honour of the fact that St Thérèse is known as the 'Little Flower of Jesus'.

St Thérèse was a French Carmelite nun who died of tuberculosis in 1897 aged 24. She came to wider attention after her autobiography 'Story of a Soul' was published. It was her seemingly unremarkable life that has made her such a remarkable figure, demonstrating that an extraordinary spiritual life can be lived through ordinary tasks. The relics arrival in London mark the end of a month long tour around England and Wales

Speaking about the visit, Canon Christopher Tuckwell, Administrator of Westminster Cathedral said: "I am delighted that the relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux are coming to Westminster Cathedral this October. I am sure they will be a source of grace and spiritual healing for all those pilgrims who come to the Cathedral during those three days. St Thérèse is a great inspiration to us all and I hope that the visit of her relics will enable a deepening of faith and a renewed sense of commitment to the Church. I would warmly invite you to visit us during this time."

More details at 

Relic Highlights at Westminster Cathedral

Monday 12 October

5.30pm Mass of Welcome
6.30pm Arrival of relics - the relics will be welcomed and blessed at the west door of Westminster Cathedral by Bishop John Arnold, and then taken into the Cathedral after which pilgrims will enter the Cathedral to venerate the relics

Tuesday 13 October
5.30pm   Capitular Mass of St Edward the Confessor, celebrated by Archbishop Vincent Nichols
7.30pm   Ecumenical Service - Guest preacher Rt Rev'd Graeme Knowles, Dean of St Paul's Cathedral

Thursday 15th October
3pm Capitular Mass of Farewell, celebrated by Archbishop Vincent Nichols
4.30pm Relics depart

More than 100,000 people have already visited the relics of St Therese since they arrived in England on 16 September.  Last week they were in Cardiff, Bristol, Liverpool and Manchester, Lancaster and Newcastle.

History was made last Thursday night when the relics were brought into York Minster for a service dedicated to Christian unity.

The Catholic Bishops of Leeds and Middlesbrough were among the invited guests, along with clerics and pastors from the United Reform, Methodist and Anglican Churches.

The Dean of Minster, The Very Revd Keith Jones, gave the main address and highlighted that the  day marked the anniversary of the five Malines Conversations which began in December 1921 and ended in October 1926. These brought together Anglicans and Catholics who shared a passion for Christian unity; these conversations involved Charles Lindley Wood (Viscount Halifax); Fr Etienne Fernand Portal and Cardinal Mercier of Malines.

Linking this historical anniversary to the visit of the Relics, the Dean said: "Here tonight we meet in the presence of the relics of St Therese, which, in the care of the Carmelite guardians we are very grateful to welcome to York Minster. We Anglicans make no claim to call Therese our own: she lived and died in an impeccably Roman Catholic milieu. But it is a central quality of Therese that she wished to speak to the heart of anyone who would read about the truth she had found and proved in her life, and her genius is in her fearless honesty and directness. Those who love and revere her find that nobody speaks more strongly of the freedom of God to do as he wishes, and to love those whom he will love."

"Therese herself prayed for people at or even beyond the edge, as we measure it, of the boundaries of covenanted grace. That, she saw, was where priests should be. When we come into the presence of this sign of the Kingdom of Christ, these relics of the Little Flower, we are all humbled. And whoever we are, we are at one in this: that we ask God to have mercy on us. Even in the difficult, searching mazes of our search for the unity of the Church, we have to be prepared for God, whose wisdom sometimes seem foolish to us, to do what he will do. We pray that we may not impede Him."

"So what we do tonight is simple, and little. All the prayers of Mercier and Halifax and Portal are summed up in the universal prayer of those who live by Christ: Thy will be done. This we can pray together, and this needs be all our prayer for now."

On Tuesday the relics were brought to the National Shrine at Walsingham. Yesterday they were taken to the Oxford Oratory. On Thursday they will visit St Joseph’s, in Gerrards Cross, before being taken to Aylesford.

For more details see:

Source: Archbishops House

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