Relics of St Thérèse arrive at Aylesford

The relics of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux arrived at “The Friars” Carmelite Priory at Aylesford in Kent on Friday.

Throughout the morning coaches arrived bringing children from schools around the county. The children were very much the focus on the first of three days when the relics will be available for the veneration of pilgrims. An estimated 1,000 people were at The Friars to welcome the relics of “The Little Flower”.

The Carmelite community, led by the Prior of Aylesford Fr Brendan Grady, O.Carm., welcomed the pilgrims enthusiastically. The Prior General of the Carmelite Order, Fr Fernando Millán Romeral, O.Carm., enjoyed speaking to schoolchildren, and to the press who covered the event on radio and television.

From mid-morning onwards pilgrims were able to avail themselves of roses and other souvenirs of their pilgrimage, and to visit an exhibition about Thérèse's Gospel-saturated life and message.

Children greeting the arrival of the relics lined the ancient path leading to the medieval priory gatehouse, where the reliquary was greeted by the Carmelite community. Volunteers from the Knights of Saint Columba then carried the reliquary to the area in front of the Shrine, beneath the statue of the Virgin Mary.

A Service of Welcome and Joy ensued in which children were prominent participants. A particularly moving moment was a dramatic presentation of the life and message of Saint Thérèse by Simon Stock School in Maidstone.

The relics were then carried to the Relics Chapel and venerated by the pilgrims present in a spirit of profound prayer. At 4.30pm the reliquary was returned to the main shrine where Mass was celebrated by the Prior Provincial of the British Province of Carmelites, Fr Wilfrid McGreal, O.Carm.

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