Thousands greet relics of St Thérèse at Westminster Cathedral

The relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux arrived at Westminster Cathedral last night.  While a capitular Mass of Welcome was celebrated inside the Cathedral, thousands of people, many carrying roses, watched the service on a giant screen in the Piazza.

During his homily, Bishop John Arnold said that Therese Martin had been a simple French girl, often in poor health and only averagely educated. She performed no miracles, saw no visions, heard no voices. Yet within a few years of her death she was famous worldwide and in 1925 she was fast-tracked to canonisation.

The secret of St Therese’s sancitity was what she called her 'little way' - a precept of performing infinite small kindnesses, discharging daily duties well and being good to those you dislike.

Bishop John acknowledged that some people regard the veneration of relics as tinged with superstition or magic, out of line with the sophistication of the modern church. But he argued that it was no more unusual than treasuring the keepsake of a departed 'favourite granny.'

At the end of the Mass, Bishop John presided over welcoming  ceremony on the steps of the Cathedral and they were brought into the central aisle where they will rest until Thursday.

More than 2,000 pilgrims an hour are expected to venerate the relics during their stay in Westminster. 100,000 candles and 50,000 pink roses have been ordered with 2,000 pilgrims an hour expected to venerate the relics.

The usual services will continue each day. At 7.30pm tonight there will be an Ecumenical Service presided over by Bishop George Stack with the Rt Rev Graeme Knowles as guest preacher. An all-night vigil for the Year of Priests begins at 9.30pm, lead by Bishop Bernard Longley. On Wednesday there will be a Young People's liturgy and and all night vigil lead by Mgr John Armitage. Archbishop Vincent Nichols will celebrate the Mass of Farewell at 3pm on Thursday.

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