Visit to Canada of relics of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: A success beyond all expectations

Wednesday, February 06 2002

(Ottawa – CCCB)… Nearly two million Canadians venerated the relics of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux during their September 16 to December 17, 2001, visit to Canada. According to Mr. Jacques Binet, chair of the National Organizing Committee, “We had expected a large turnout but the response went far beyond our expectations.”

In all, the relics visited 49 of the 63 Latin Rite Catholic dioceses across Canada, stopping at 118 different locations. The reliquary stopped at cathedrals, basilicas and parish churches, as well as local pilgrimage sites such as Wakaw, Saskatchewan, and major national shrines including the Canadian Martyrs’ Shrine, Midland, Ontario; Saint Joseph’s Oratory, Montreal; the Sanctuary of Cap-de-la-Madeleine, near Trois-Rivières; and the Sanctuary of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, near Quebec City.

“For travelling by road across Canada,” Binet added, “the Committee had bought a van, generally known as the ‘Thérèse-mobile’, which carried the reliquary over some 20,000 km. At the wheel were a number of wonderful and generous volunteers from the Knights of Columbus, as well as Gérald Baril, a member of our committee, who drove for much of the time.”

The relics were transported by plane on seven occasions, including a trip to the small Native community of St. Therese Point in northern Manitoba, and also to St. John’s, Newfoundland. For four days, November 29 to December 2, they travelled to the northern-most parts of Quebec and Labrador on a helicopter. “The scale of the visit to Canada surprised a large number of people, including some bishops and priests as well as a lot of the media,” Binet said. “First of all, there were such large crowds each time the reliquary stopped on its journey from Vancouver to St. John’s. Then there was the presence of people from other faiths, including Muslims, Buddhists, Orthodox and Protestants. Finally, there was such a deep sense of reverence wherever the relics were.” Binet said the presence on Canadian soil of the relics of the “Little Flower” touched the hearts of many Canadians, judging by testimonies later received and also by what was seen first-hand by those accompanying the reliquary. “We saw popular faith express itself in such a surprising way,” he said. “Now it remains for us to try to understand what lies behind this phenomenon, as it will probably have an impact on all the Catholic Church throughout Canada.” The relics of Saint Thérèse de Lisieux came to Canada at the invitation of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. This was the 22nd country to welcome the major reliquary of the young French Carmelite nun who died of tuberculosis in 1897 at the age of 24, was canonized in 1925 and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1997. Her relics have been travelling throughout the world since 1994 and are now in Australia.

Visit of the Relics
to St.Therese Point, Manitoba
Visit of the Relics to Labrador City-Schefferville