PORTSMOUTH, England, SEPT. 18, 2009 (Zenit.org).- St. Thérèse of Lisieux’s relics arrived to England by the Euro-tunnel on Tuesday afternoon, beginning a month-long visit to the United Kingdom.
From now until Oct. 16, the relics will visit 28 different places, including numerous Catholic cathedrals and parishes, an Anglican cathedral — for the first time — a university chaplaincy, a prison and a hospice for the dying.
The official journey began on Wednesday in St. John’s Cathedral in Portsmouth, and will end in London. These two cities are significant because St. Thérèse, as a girl, made a drawing of England and named those two points on the map.
Numerous pilgrims filled the city to receive the relics, among them a welcome committee made up of religious, school children, journalists and other individuals, reported a blog of the press office of the bishops’ conference that is dedicated to the development of the visit.
The reliquary was carried by six men to the door of the cathedral, where it was received by Bishop Crispian Hollis of Portsmouth.
Later, hundreds of children who carried flags, roses and candles went to pray with St. Thérèse.
The saint said that after her death a rain of roses would fall on the earth, and for this reason many people carry roses to the pilgrimage sites of her relics and ask for a blessing.
A Mass was celebrated in Portsmouth cathedral on Wednesday, presided over by Bishop Hollis, which included anointing of the sick. That night, a Mass of thanksgiving was celebrated for the visit of the reliquary.
It is estimated that some 2,000 pilgrims visited the reliquary, including young and elderly people, the sick, believers of several religions and non-believers.
Bishop Hollis said: “It was extraordinary. We expected it would be very special, but it is becoming something that goes well beyond our expectations in terms of numbers and true devotion.”
He continued: “What she is giving is something that, perhaps, we have lost somewhat in the Church today: that element of correct and proper devotion. St. Thérèse touches the life of ordinary people in an extraordinary way.”
The prelate affirmed that “the relics in themselves are not what is most important, but what they represent: a life in which God was absolutely essential and in which there was a total answer to the call made by God.”
St. Thérèse of Lisieux’s relics have visited more than 40 countries, including: Brazil, Russia, Burkina Faso and Iraq. In each location, great crowds were attracted.
Near the relics, many individuals have experienced conversion, healing, a renewed sense of vocation and answers to their prayers.
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, retired archbishop of Westminster, and the bishops of England and Wales requested the visit of the relics, hoping to live a time of grace for the Church and the country.