Wednesday, 29 April 2009

The Beatification of Thérèse

Here Thérèse is seen with her eyes characteristically fixed on heaven. She had always desired it as her final goal and wished to lead others there. On this day in 1923 Thérèse was beatified by Pope Pius XI. For this final step on the road to her being declared a saint, thousands of people gathered at St Peter's Basilica in Rome; 45 bishops were also present. The presence of so many faithful was a sign of Thérèse's ability to draw people to God. A month earlier her remains had been taken from their original resting place in the town cemetery at Lisieux and moved to the Carmel. Fifty thousand had gathered for the event, in stark contrast to the small group who had attended her funeral 26 years earlier. Her popularity - but more importantly the popularity of her 'Little Way' - had grown at a phenomenal rate. Thérèse's own parents were beatified in Lisieux on 19th October 2008; you can read more in the report from that day on the Lancaster Cathedral Blog, here.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Coach Parties Welcome!

In the vehicle park outside the Basilica at Lisieux you can often find a few coaches lined up. They're beginning to line up for the visit to Lancaster as well. Over recent weeks we have been in contact with a fair number of group organisers who plan to come to the Cathedral when Thérèse's relics come in September. Groups are very welcome and we will endeavour to keep group leaders informed of developments. We ask that, to assist us with planning, people organising group visits let us know in advance that they are coming. It is not too early to register interest! If you're considering the possibility of organising a group visit, please get in touch.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Some Short Videos

We have been alerted to a website,, which contains information about St Thérèse and her family; it also promotes the cause of beatification of some of Thérèse's sisters. Some short video clips on the site may be of particular interest; they include visits to some of the places associated with St Thérèse and her family. Seven videos are featured, each lasting a few minutes. The relevant page can be found here.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Resources from Fr Eugene

A new resource for the visit of St Thérèse has just been launched. Written by Fr Eugene McCafferty OCD (who led our diocesan day for catechists in January, see here), these seven leaflets give an accessible but insightful look at different aspects of St Thérèse's life and message. The leaflets are available to buy from the Carmelite Book Service (see here) based in Oxford. We hope that the Cathedral will also have copies in the near future. Fr Eugene has also written a life of St Thérèse for school children and a 28-page booklet for teenagers. These are also available from the Carmelite Book Service (see link above or contact: Carmelite Book Service, Youlbury, Boars Hill, Oxford OX1 5HB; 01865 730183).

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Visit Publicity

At the back of the Cathedral visitors can now pick up flyers for the visit of the relics of St Thérèse, and last Thursday copies were made available to every parish in the Diocese as part of a resource pack which was distributed after the Chrism Mass. All of the resources made available to parishes, including information about the life and message of Thérèse, plus flyers and posters, can be downloaded on this site - use the links on the right hand side or click here to visit the Thérèse resources homepage.

Thérèse is fairly prominent on the notice board too, and - at least if you are in the Lancaster Diocese - should be appearing soon in a parish near you!

Thursday, 9 April 2009

The Carmel at Lisieux

This is the Carmel at Lisieux, the enclosed convent where Thérèse spent the last nine years of her short earthly life. She entered Carmel on this day in 1888, having fought long and hard to be admitted at the younger than usual age of 15. The night before she entered she had a final meal with her family, which she desribed in her autobiography as a heartrending experience.

Thérèse wrote of how she asked her father to bless her as she went into the Carmel. "A few moments later, the doors of the holy ark closed upon me, and there I was received by the dear Sisters who embraced me. They had acted as mothers to me and I was going to take them as models for my actions from now on. My desires were at last accomplished; my soul experienced a peace so sweet, so deep, it would be impossible to express it."

This is the chapel of the Carmel as it appears today. There are a little over 20 sisters in the community - a similar number to the community that Thérèse knew. The nuns are seen publicly for Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours, but otherwise they remain out of sight. This is the life that Thérèse knew, and the life of Carmelites around the world today.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

The Life and Message of Thérèse

Back in January Tabor, the Carmelite Retreat House in Preston, hosted a day for catechists and others interested in the visit of St Thérèse. It was a very worthwhile occasion, led by Fr Eugene McCaffrey OCD and Fr Frank Gallagher OCD, both of whom were involved in Thérèse's visit to Ireland in 2001. At the day we promised that more resources would be made available, and these are now being added to the Cathedral website. They will also be made available to every parish in the Diocese via a resource pack which is being distributed at the Chrism Mass on Thursday morning. The list of resources available on the website can be found here.

Tabor is hosting a day entitled, "The Challenge of St Thérèse Today", taking place on Saturday 11th July. Booking is essential and an offering of £12 is suggested. You can find contact details for Tabor and a good deal more on their website, here.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Lisieux: the Stations of the Cross

Today is Palm Sunday, and at Mass we hear the reading of the Passion, the account of the Lord's suffering and death. This same event is recalled in a popular devotion of Lent and Holy Week: the Stations of the Cross. In the magnificant Basilica in Lisieux, built as the shrine of St Thérèse, the Stations are (somewhat unusually) depicted in the stained glass windows. Above we see an image of the fourth station: Jesus meets His blessed mother.

Behind the Basilica there is a small garden. It was here that Thérèse's parents were buried until their beatification last October; their bodies have now been moved to the crypt of the Basilica.

Within the garden there is a larger version of the Stations of the Cross, designed to be used by pilgrim groups. At each station there is a small quotation from Thérèse. The saint often contemplated the Passion of Jesus, and this contemplation no doubt helped her in the great suffering she experienced in the last 18 months of her life.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

What's in the reliquary?

The expression on the face says it all: the reliquary is heavy! In fact, it weighs between 400 and 500lbs, and needs six men to carry it. But what does it contain? What is actually coming to Lancaster? You can find out the answers to these questions on a new page on the Cathedral website (click here); the pdf version of the page on relics has also been updated to include the same information. It can be found here.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Star of the Sea: a parish prepares

In at least one parish of the Diocese there is an ever-growing band of Thérèse fans. This is the church of Our Lady Star of the Sea in St Annes; here parishioners and priests have been working hard to learn more about Thérèse's life and message, and to prepare for the visit by prayer and catechesis. A travelling statue of St Thérèse has been going from house to house, and also stopping at the primary school. Seemingly the classes have been very reluctant to let it move on!

In the entrance to the church there is a board displaying information about Thérèse. Fr Michael Docherty, assistant priest in the parish, has produced a document called 'A parish prepares'. It gives further information about the great work that has been going on at Star of the Sea and provides many ideas which could be used in other parishes. The document can be found here. The parish is also hosting a talk: "The Spirituality of Saint Thérèse in the Year of St Paul" by Raymond de Souza (19 May, 7:30pm in the Parish Social Centre, St Alban's Road). More events can be found listed here. If you know of an event which we haven't listed, or would like us to share what is being done in your parish to prepare for the visit, please get in touch.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

The Colours of Carmel

We are very fortunate to have photographs of St Thérèse, including many which show her life in Carmel. Of course, all the pictures are monochrome, so we do not see the colour of her habit. Carmelite nuns wear brown and white (the picture here illustrates the habit well); novices also wear a white veil, whereas professed nuns wear a darker colour. Some pictures of Thérèse as a novice survive, and will be displayed on this blog in due course. The colours of this site are, of course, inspired by the habit.