Saturday, 17 October 2009

St Thérèse: the tour is complete

After a month travelling England and Wales, the relics of St Thérèse leave Westminster Cathedral. This was the scene on Thursday afternoon as the tour came to an end.

At the departure Mass was celebrated in the Cathedral. Something close to 100,000 had visited the reliquary in Westminster; among them - according to reports - was former Prime Minister Tony Blair. The tour has been extraordinary, and has united people from all walks of life: politicians and prisoners, the old and young, healthy and sick, people of different faiths.

Among the last to venerate the relics was Most Rev. Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster. Here he is seen with the reliquary just before its departure.

A shower of rose petals fell inside the Cathedral as the relics were carried out. Official figures estimate that 285,000 people had seen the relics around the country.

There were petals outside, too, as the reliquary made its way into the Cathedral Piazza just off Victoria Street. Large screens in the Piazza had been showing live images from inside the Cathedral during the visit - a facility no doubt greatly appreciated by the many who had to queue outside.

Here the Archbishop follows the reliquary outside; Westminster's auxiliary bishops (among them Bishop Bernard Longley, who will soon take over as Archbishop of Birmingham) line the route, with Papal Knights visible on the other side.

With that, the hearse was loaded for one last time as a great crowd in the Piazza looked on. A few weeks ago it would have been hard to predict the extraordinary events of the last month. The many pictures we have seen have told one, very public, story; alongside this there are countless thousands of individual stories which will be being told for many years to come.

Yesterday the relics arrived back in Lisieux; here they are seen in the crypt of the town's Basilica. Adrian Forsey, the funeral director who had overseen their transportation during the UK tour, is seen wearing the red tie.

Finally, in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel at the side of the Basilica, the relics rest before the altar. Mass was celebrated by Monsignor Keith Barltrop, who had the unenviable task of overseeing the entire visit. His work, and the work of his team, has certainly paid off.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

St Thérèse in prison

Yesterday the relics made one of their best-publicised stops: a visit to Wormwood Scrubs prison in West London. The visit to this prison has attracted a fair amount of attention in the national media, but Thérèse is no stranger to such institutions; it has often been the case that her relics, when on tour, visit one or more prisons.

The Archbishop of Westminster also visited the prison, celebrating Mass with a large group of prisoners. The relics are now at his Cathedral, where he will preside over some of the major liturgies over the next couple of days.

St Thérèse prayed for the conversion of criminals, most famously in the case of the murderer Pranzini, and so it seems very fitting that her relics called at Wormwood Scrubs. Many of the prisoners paused to venerate the relics before they moved on. It's worth taking a look at the full set of pictures from the prison, which can be found here.

Monday, 12 October 2009

A cardinal, a prison and the tour finale

There were extraordinary scenes in Kensington last night as the relics of St Thérèse arrived at the Carmelite Church there. A huge crowd had gathered outside the church, so that - as you can see - it was difficult for the reliquary to be brought in.

From the entrance to the church you can see the large number of people outside. There is little space for people to congregate, and many queued down Kensington Church Street, waiting to get into the church.

Among those who venerated the relics was Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Emeritus Archbishop of Westminster, now resident in nearby Chiswick. Some of the auxiliary bishops of Westminster Diocese were also present. Today the relics call into Wormwood Scrubs, the only prison on the tour. It is an appropriate stop, given Thérèse's desire to call people to conversion. After that comes the tour finale: a three-day visit to Westminster Cathedral. Tens of thousands are expected at this final tour venue, which should provide a fitting climax to a wonderful month. The relics arrive at the Cathedral at 7pm today, and remain there until 4:30pm on Thursday. Further coverage of the Westminster visit, plus more images of St Thérèse in Lancaster, are available on the Lancaster Cathedral blog, here. You can also continue to follow the tour on the national blog, at

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Gerrards Cross and Aylesford

The end of the tour draws ever closer, yet there are certain to be great things to come. Above, the relics at St Joseph's, Gerrards Cross, a Carmelite church in the Diocese of Northampton. Bishop Peter Doyle led the celebrations here, and - as you can see - once again many children were involved.

Today the relics spend a full day at the Friars, Aylesford, where many people gathered outdoors at their arrival. This Carmelite priory attracts a great many visitors each year, but this week it will be very much busier than usual. Some pilgrims are travelling there from the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton, which is not hosting the relics. There are just a couple of stops left: the Carmelite Church in Kensington tomorrow, and then the tour finale at Westminster Cathedral, Monday-Thursday. Keep up-to-date at

Friday, 9 October 2009

From Walsingham to Oxford

On Wednesday the relics left Walsingham and travelled to Oxford; here they are seen being carried away from the shrine of Our Lady, passing the famous 'Slipper Chapel'.

Around 6200 people visited the relics in Oxford, during the overnight stay at the Oratory. During the visit there was a Mass celebrated in the extraordinary form. Across the different venues there have been all types of celebration and a huge variety of expressions of faith. It seems that the relics have been a great unifying force within the Church. Since Oxford there has been an overnight stop at Gerrard's Cross (Northampton Diocese), St Thérèse now moves on to Aylesford Priory, a Carmelite establishment near Maidstone (Archdiocese of Southwark). The tour is nearing its final days. You can read more, and find links to many more pictures, on the national blog at

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

To Walsingham and beyond

After Nottingham, the reliquary arrived yesterday afternoon in the tiny village of Little Walsingham in north Norfolk. Here the car makes its way through the narrow streets. Great crowds have been gathering here, as at other venues. Despite its size this village is no stranger to large numbers of visitors, nor indeed to pilgrims: Walsingham is the national shrine of Our Lady, and welcomes a great many pilgrims each year.

Today is the feast of our Lady of the Rosary, so it seems appropriate that the tour pauses at this shrine of Our Lady today. There is little rest, however, and the relics move on shortly: the next stop is Oxford, where the Oratory will be the host. More pictures and insights into the tour can be found at

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The Little Flower in Nottingham

Nottingham Cathedral hosted the relics overnight, and with a mere 17-hour stop it is not surprising that the building wasn't large enough. In fact, it seems that up to 1500 people stood outside during the Mass yesterday evening, and a great many more have visited the relics in the city. The tour is nearing its final stages - this time next week the relics will be at Westminster Cathedral, their final stop. Today the reliquary arrives at the national shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham, before going to Oxford Oratory tomorrow. More, as always, on the official tour blog at

Monday, 5 October 2009

St Thérèse in Leeds

Escorted by police outriders, the relics of St Thérèse arrived in Leeds on Saturday afternoon. Not only was the Cathedral full, but a huge crowd gathered outside to see the arrival. As with the previous weekend visits (to Birmingham and Salford Cathedrals) the organisers in Leeds had to prepare for enormous numbers of pilgrims.

Here Rt Rev. Arthur Roche, Bishop of Leeds, incenses the relics. Bishop Roche is one of the patrons of the relics' visit to England and Wales.

How's this for a queue? People wait in turn, forming a great line which stretches from the Cathedral at least as far back as Leeds Town Hall. The Cathedral was closed Saturday night and reopened on Sunday at 6am; seemingly the first people were waiting by 5am. The phenomenal success of this visit continues. The relics will leave Leeds very shortly, and make their way to Nottingham Cathedral, where they are due to arrive this afternoon. More pictures and information about the visit can be found on the national blog, at

Saturday, 3 October 2009

From Middlesbrough to Leeds

Here Rt Rev. Terence Drainey, Bishop of Middlesbrough, sees the relics depart his diocese. They had been on a 22-hour visit to his Cathedral Church, during which significant crowds turned out. The relics have now arrived at Leeds Cathedral where they will spend the weekend. You can find more at

Friday, 2 October 2009

Since she left us...

It's less than three days since the relics left Lancaster, but much has happened in that short time. While the main Lancaster Cathedral blog is posting lots of pictures of the visit to our Cathedral, on this blog we catch up with the continuing tour. The image above comes from Newcastle, where great crowds turned up to see the relics at St Andrew's church.

Then, on Thursday, there was a brief visit to Darlington Carmel, one of several Carmelite monasteries on the tour.

There was a military salute as the relics arrived in Darlington...

... and soldiers were recruited to carry the reliquary. It seems that a lot of ceremony was crammed into the short visit; appropriate enough, especially given that Thursday was the feast of St Thérèse.

Later that day the relics arrived at York Minster, the only non-Catholic church on the itinerary. This ecumenical gesture has attracted quite a lot of interest, especially in the secular media.

Once again large crowds turned out, and an all-night vigil was held. Earlier today the relics arrived at Middlesbrough Cathedral, under police escort, where they remain before travelling to Leeds Cathedral tomorrow. We'll try to keep you posted, but don't forget that there is much more on the official website for the visit, at

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Changing Channels

For continuing coverage of the St Thérèse visit, it's time to switch over... the Lancaster Cathedral blog will provide full coverage of the relics' visit, with pictures and reports posted as regularly as proves possible. You can find the blog here. Please pray that the visit is a time of grace for everyone involved and for the whole Diocese of Lancaster.

St Thérèse in Salford

As with the earlier venues, St Thérèse has attracted enormous crowds during her visit to Salford Cathedral. Within 24 hours from now the first pilgrims will be arriving here in Lancaster, ahead of the arrival of the relics at 4pm tomorrow. Before that, our new cloister garden of St Thérèse opens this afternoon; there is Vespers at 4:40pm, at the end of which we will have a procession to the garden, which will be blessed by the Cathedral Dean, Canon Stephen Shield. You are most welcome to come along.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Bishop Campbell's message for the visit

Bishop Campbell has offered this message as the visit of the relics of St Thérèse to Lancaster approaches. The Bishop says that he is confident that the visit of the relics will be an occasion of grace for all of us; he also invites those who are unable to come to the Cathedral to unite in prayer during these days of pilgrimage. Click on the image to play the video.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Making the headlines

The day has brought a wave of media enquiries about the visit of St Thérèse to Lancaster, along with the delivery of the final display materials and prayer cards which will be distributed during the visit. Tomorrow some of the display materials will be put up in the Cathedral, and large numbers of extra chairs will be put out to provide additional seating for the expected crowds. Among the many media outlets reporting the visit, the Lancaster Guardian placed the visit on the front page; it is also the lead story on their website. You can read the article here.

Meanwhile, enormous crowds turned out in Liverpool to venerate the relics at the Metropolitan Cathedral. Seemingly several hundred people had to stand outside during Mass last night (and the Cathedral seats 2000!) and there was a constant stream of people all day. This afternoon the relics moved to Salford Cathedral, where they remain until Sunday. Keep up with their progress at

Thursday, 24 September 2009

St Thérèse arrives in the North West

A few hours ago the relics of St Thérèse arrived in Liverpool, where they begin a six-day tour of the North West of England. For us in Lancaster, it reminds us how soon she will be with us; her relics come here on Monday. The local TV news, on both the BBC and ITV, have been reporting the start of the North West part of the national tour. Today in Lancaster we have also taken a number of media enquiries and have made the front page of the Lancaster Guardian.

Huge crowds were present as the relics arrived in Liverpool - 2000 greeted them with spontaneous applause. The Metropolitan Cathedral was full to capacity, and is likely to remain busy until the relics move on tomorrow. Many more practical preparations have been taking place today, with time now against us as Monday approaches. The pictures in this post are from the national tour blog, which can be found at