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

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

St Thérèse in Wales

Today the relics have travelled to Cardiff, their only public venue in Wales during the month-long tour. Once again, it seems that great crowds have turned out. Today in Lancaster we have been preparing more of the Cathedral site, including the final stages of work on our St Thérèse garden, which opens on Sunday. Stewards have been briefed about our special schools programme, and there have been some media enquiries to deal with. More booklets have come off the printer, and badges have been made for stewards. Two people on a tour of the Cathedral this morning were at Birmingham when St Thérèse was there over the weekend, and came in after the lunchtime Mass to share their experiences and give us a few tips! On Sunday we also met a couple who had visited the relics in Taunton. If you're planning to come to Lancaster when the relics are with us, we now have some new practical information about the visit on our website: click here for our 'practicalities' page, which includes information about transport and parking as well as other advice, such as suggestions about things you may need to bring. The image in this post is from, which is following the tour at each stop.

Monday, 21 September 2009

The tour continues

The relics of St Thérèse have spent the day in Coleshill near Birmingham, where one of the main events has been a celebration for priests. St Thérèse had a great commitment to praying for priests, and this fact, along with the current 'Year for Priests', makes it especially appropriate that prayer for priests be a part of the tour of her relics. Meanwhile, here in Lancaster much progress has been made during the day, with the transformation of the Cathedral site now underway. The platform upon which the relics will stand has now been completed, and we have finalised the plans for a DVD of the visit to Lancaster, which will be available around the end of October. There is still much to do but things seem to be on track. Just a week to go! If you'd like to follow the tour of the relics in more detail, don't forget to visit the special blog which has been set up to cover the national tour. You can find it here.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Novena: prayer for the lapsed and the missions

This stained glass image of St Thérèse comes from the windows of the church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea in St Annes. It reminds us of Thérèse's desire to be a missionary and her role as patron of the missions. It was always her desire to draw people to Christ, so in this final week of the novena we pray for the spread of the Gospel at home and abroad.

Intention for this week: the lapsed and the missions
In Carmel for the last nine years of her life, Thérèse never set foot outside of the monastery. Yet she greatly desired to be a missionary, and would like to have gone to Vietnam to promote the spread of the Gospel. Missionaries and the work of evangelisation became a special focus of her prayer, as she longed to draw people close to Christ. On this Home Mission Sunday, as we begin the final week before her relics visit our Diocese, we pray that Thérèse may help those who have fallen away from practising their faith. She once said that she wanted to be a missionary “until the end of time.” May her wish be fulfilled in our Diocese.

Let us pray for all who no longer practise their faith, and for the spread of the Gospel throughout the world – that by the intercession of St Thérèse people everywhere may hear and respond to the Gospel.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

St Thérèse in Birmingham

While stewards were being briefed here in Lancaster, the relics were arriving at their fourth venue: Birmingham. They will remain at the Cathedral Church of St Chad until Monday. It seems that the national tour is so far going extremely well, with large numbers of pilgrims turning up at each venue.

Steward Training

No, they're not queuing to see the relics already - there are still nine days to go until St Thérèse arrives in Lancaster. The people here are all volunteers who came to the Cathedral this afternoon for a training session for the visit of the relics. A great crowd of stewards is needed, not to mention the people who will provide around the clock refreshments. It's a big operation!

After a session talking about some of the practicalities and plans for visit, the volunteers took a guided walk around the whole Cathedral site, to get a sense of how all the different spaces will be used. We are grateful to all who have volunteered to help. Some people were unable to attend the training session, but are still most welcome to help out during the visit. If you're interested in helping, please contact us and we can send you some information.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

St Thérèse in Portsmouth

Portsmouth Cathedral yesterday became the first English venue to host the relics of St Thérèse, with a 24-hour visit which began at 9:30 yesterday morning. Here the relics are seen arriving at the Cathedral. Early reports suggest that it was a wonderful event, with great crowds (some BBC reports suggest 15,000 people) visiting the relics during their time in the city.

This morning the relics left Portsmouth and made their way to Plymouth, where they arrived at 4pm for an overnight visit. Here in Lancaster we are keeping a close watch on what happens at the early venues on the tour, hoping to pick up a few tips and iron out any creases in our plans before the relics reach us in just 11 days' time. The phone here is red hot with enquiries, and Thérèse-related hits on the website have risen sharply in the last few days. All the signs are that interest is very high. Please pray that the visit will bring many graces to us all.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

St Thérèse in England

Safely through the tunnel, the relics of St Thérèse arrived in England yesterday afternoon, ready for their month-long tour. The first pictures of the relics in England were published yesterday by the official website for the visit,

The relics are now being taken by road to Portsmouth, where the Cathedral Cathedral is the first venue to host the relics on their national tour. From there the relics make their way up the western side of the country, visiting towns and cities including Plymouth, Taunton, Bristol, Cardiff, Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester. They then arrive at Lancaster Cathedral on the afternoon of Monday 28th September, where they remain until the morning of Wednesday 30th. After that the tour makes its way down the east side of England, visiting (amongst others) Newcastle, Middlesbrough, York, Leeds, Walsingham, Nottingham, Oxford, Aylesford Priory in Kent, and London, where the tour finishes with a four-day visit to Westminster Cathedral. We hope to bring news of the tour's progress on this blog over the coming weeks.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Meet the team

With the relics arriving in England this afternoon, we feature a little on the logisitics of the national tour. A certain amount of military precision is involved in planning a month-long event; handy, then, that the man who has to oversee the practicalities is a former army Major. David Baldwin, seen here, is the logistics manager for the national organising committee. He will travel with the relics for the entire visit, and has been involved with organising the event from the outset. Last September he visited Lancaster Cathedral with Mgr Keith Barltrop, who is in overall charge of the national tour.

This is the "Thérèse mobile", which will be used to carry the relics throughout the tour.

In previous tours the vehicle itself has become a bit of a star - a bit like the 'popemobile'! For the tour of England and Wales the 'Thérèse mobile' seems to be unmarked.

An Anglican funeral director, Adrian Forsey of Somerset, has taken on the responsibility of transporting the relics. He will drive the 'Thérèse mobile' and will oversee the lifting and carrying of the relics at each venue. In total a party of seven will accompany the relics around the country: Fr Keith, David and Adrian will be joined by a couple of representatives of the shrine at Lisieux, a media spokesperson and a religious whose role will be to speak about the tour and to promote vocations. The scene is set. The tour begins in Portsmouth tomorrow.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Relics and Pilgrimage

Yesterday afternoon there were two talks in the Cathedral Social Centre, focussing on relics and pilgrimage. Caroline Hull, the Cathedral's events co-ordinator, talked about relics and pilgrimage in the Middle Ages; her talk looked at some of the aspects of pilgrimage which are relevant to the forthcoming visit of St Thérèse. Afterwards Fr Andrew talked about the history of the relics of St Thérèse, speaking about how she had died in obscurity but devotion to her quickly spread after her death. The talk charted how Lisieux had quickly become a place of pilgrimage and how, after 1997, the relics themselves began to draw crowds all over the world. There is a talk on Thérèse's life in the Cathedral 'day chapel' tomorrow evening at 7:30pm; this coming Saturday there is a training session for anyone who would like to help with the visit (2-5pm at the Cathedral). There is also a day of recollection at Kendal and a session on the Carmelite Way in Carlisle. Full details of all these events can be found here. Meanwhile, it's now just two days until the relics arrive in England and two weeks until they reach Lancaster.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Novena: prayer for those who doubt

This image of St Thérèse was taken only a couple of months before her death. It is in facing death that each of us endures our greatest test of faith. In the Diocesan Novena this week we pray for all those who doubt or struggle to find faith in God.

Intention for this week: those who doubt/struggle with faith
For the final 18 months of her life, Thérèse endured great suffering as the result of illness. Alongside this there was a form of spiritual suffering, as she felt that heaven “was closed” to her. She never lost her faith, but found it impossible to feel God’s presence. This experience of darkness for Thérèse reminds us how great a gift it is to have a sense of God’s presence in our lives; it is an invitation to pray for those who have no faith or who struggle to believe. Jesus’ question in the Gospel is also meant for each of us: “Who do you say I am?” This week we pray for a deeper, stronger faith in Christ.

Let us pray for those who struggle to believe in Christ – that by the prayers of St Thérèse they may find certainty in the truth which God has revealed to us.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Thérèse's Solemn Profession

There are 20 days to go until the relics of St Thérèse arrive in Lancaster, and just eight days until the tour of England and Wales begins. Today is the anniversary of the solemn profession of St Thérèse in Carmel, which took place in 1890. She was just 17 years old when she made this final commitment to spend her life in the monastery. The picture here, which shows Thérèse lying on the floor as a sign of her dependence to God and submission to His will, is taken from the book for children produced for the Lancaster visit.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Mother Agnes of Jesus

On this day in 1861 Pauline Martin, Thérèse's older sister, was born. Thérèse always had a special attachment to Pauline, and when their mother died the young Thérèse said, "Pauline will be my mother now." In October 1882 Pauline entered the Carmelite monastery at Lisieux, and her departure from the family home came as a huge blow to Thérèse, who became very ill. Later, after Thérèse had enetered the same Carmel, Pauline was elected Prioress. In this role Pauline (who in religious life was known as 'Mother Agnes of Jesus') asked Thérèse to write an account of her early years. This instruction brought about one of the greatest and most popular spiritual texts ever written: the 'Story of a Soul', Thérèse's autobiography, which was published a year after her death. We have great cause to be greatful to Mother Agnes, therefore, as without her we may never have known anything of St Thérèse.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Novena: prayer for religious

As the anniversary of Thérèse's solemn profession in Carmel approaches, this week in the Diocesan Novena we pray for all who serve God and the Church in religious life.

Intention for this week: those in religious life
On 8th September 1890 Thérèse – still just 17 years of age – made her final profession, committing the rest of her life to Carmel. For the remaining nine years of her time on earth she lived a life of prayer and service. Although she never left the confines of the monastery she served the world by her prayers. Throughout the world today there are countless religious women and men who devote their lives to prayer and service, living lives of poverty, chastity and obedience. In the words of St James, they are “poor according to the world but rich in faith.”

Let us pray for those who live the religious life – that by the intercession of St Thérèse they may be faithful to their calling.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

St Thérèse: her story for children

For the visit of St Thérèse, which is now just 23 days away, we have produced a book for children. It tells the story of Thérèse's life from the day of her birth right up to the travels of her relics around the world. Based on resources which we sent out to every school in the Diocese in June, the booklet has been beautifully illustrated by local artist Wendy Moore, with a text written for the Cathedral. Copies of the 20-page book will be available throughout the visit, as will a range of other books, devotional items and souvenirs. More information will be posted in due course.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

St Thérèse events in September

As the arrival of the relics approaches, here is an image of the reliquary during the visit to New Zealand in September/October 2005. It is now just 15 days before the tour of England and Wales begins; once it is underway we will follow its progress on this blog. Also in the coming month there will be regular updates on our behind the scenes preparations, plus useful practical information about the visit. For today, though, here is a brief look ahead to some events happening this month before the relics arrive. At the Cathedral Social Centre on 13th September there are two talks: one surveying the history of relics and another looking at the life and relics of St Thérèse herself. Then on the evening of 15th September, at the Cathedral 'day chapel', the life of the saint will be explored using images of her home town, Lisieux. On 19th September there is a training afternoon for anyone helping with the visit (stewarding etc), and also a day of recollection for the South Lakes Deanery, taking place at Brettargh Holt near Kendal. On the same day in Carlisle a day session called 'Glimpses of the Carmelite Way' will take place at St Bede's Church. Finally, the Cathedral's new St Thérèse cloister garden will be opened and blessed on Sunday 27th September (the day before the relics come to Lancaster) at the end of Vespers. If you're interested in any of these events, find more details on the diary page, here.