Autumn 2001: Canada to Host the Relics of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux

Thursday, March 09 2000

Ottawa (CCCB) –The relics of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux will be coming to Canada in September 2001, as part of a world-wide tour that began in 1995 and visited 14 countries so far.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has received permission from the ecclesiastical authorities in Lisieux to host the relics of the “Little Flower” that have drawn enormous interest and huge crowds in the countries visited to date.

When the reliquary, containing some of Saint Thérèse’s bones, arrives in Canada on September 18, 2001, it will have travelled through 22 countries as part of a worldwide pilgrimage through France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, Brazil, Holland, Russia, Kazakhstan, Argentina and the United States. The relics, which have been venerated by millions so far, are currently in the Philippines. Then they will go to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Italy, Mexico, Ireland, and Lebanon before arriving in Canada.

Over the next few weeks, the Canadian organizing committee will consult with local bishops and other officials to determine which dioceses wish to host the relics so that a schedule and itinerary may be established.

Thérèse Martin died of tuberculosis at the age of 24 in 1897 after having spent nine years in the Carmelite convent in Lisieux, France. Her reputation for holiness quickly spread to the entire world following the publication of her reflections, entitled The Story of a Soul, that was translated into 60 languages and dialects. Extraordinary events soon began to occur following her death. Miraculous cures and high-profile conversions attracted large numbers of pilgrims to Lisieux.

In 1910, barely 13 years after her death, work began for her canonization. For Thérèse, all deadlines are shortened, all protocols upset. On April 29, 1923, she was beatified. Two years later, on May 17, 1925, she was canonized by Pope Pius XI, who named her the principal patron saint of the missions worldwide, on an equal footing with St. Francis Xavier. In 1997, Pope John Paul II proclaimed her a Doctor of the Church, in recognition of the exceptional influence of her spirituality all over the world.

Devotion to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux is as alive today as it was at the time of her canonization. More than 1,800 churches worldwide bear her name. Only a few weeks before her death, she said: “I shall spend my time in heaven doing good on earth.” She is still able today to touch hearts through her memory, words and testimony of a life centred on Christ.

Throughout history, the veneration of the relics of the saints has often dramatically affected the lives of average people. This can be seen in the huge amount of mail arriving daily in Lisieux that testify to favours and inner healings and a sense of well being that people experience through contact with the relics of Thérèse.

The Reliquary, designed by a Brazilian craftsman in 1927, is a truework of art made of precious wood and silver. It weighs 135 kilograms andis 1.50 metres long by 1 metre wide by 0.85 metres high.