The Relics of Saint Thérèse Arrive in Canada

Monday, September 17 2001

(Vancouver — CCCB)  The relics of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux have begun their Canadian tour with a special celebration Sunday at Vancouver’s Holy Rosary Cathedral presided over by Archbishop Adam Exner, OMI.

The relics of this French Carmelite nun, who died of tuberculosis in 1897 at the age of 24 and was declared a saint in 1925, will travel across Canada for the next three months visiting more than 100 locations in 45 dioceses.

Canada is the 22nd country to host the reliquary containing the bones of one of the most popular modern saints of the Catholic Church. In 1995 the ecclesiastical authorities in Lisieux, France, agreed that the relics of the “Little Flower” or “Petite Thérèse” as she is known in French, could travel around the world.  In the last six years, the relics have been venerated by millions of people in France, Belgium, Holland, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, the Philippines and the United States, among other countries.

Wherever the relics of St. Thérèse have been, there have been huge gatherings and celebrations with considerable emotion and outpouring of faith.  Thérèse Martin, who entered the Carmelite convent at Lisieux at the age of 15, wrote in her autobiography History of a Soul: “I want to spend my heaven doing good on earth.” Over the past 100 years, thousands of people have testified she is true to her promise.

The relics will be staying in the Archdiocese of Vancouver for six days and will also visit the dioceses of Victoria, Kamloops and Prince George before moving eastward across Canada.   The Canadian visit of the relics will end in Halifax on December 14 when the reliquary will return to Lisieux in France.

The reliquary itself is a work of art, made of precious wood and silver by a Brazilian artist in 1927. It weighs more than 135 kg (300 lbs) and measures 1.5 metres long by 1 metre wide and 0.85 metres high (a little more than 4 ½ feet by three feet by two feet high).

The devotion to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux is as alive today as it was when she was canonized in 1925. Declared a Doctor of the Church in 1997, more than 1,800 churches worldwide carry her name, 60 of which are here in Canada.