Wednesday 20 February 2019

Little Flower's pilgrim trail reaches the capital

John Cooney

Hundreds of pilgrims yesterday queued in Dublin to pray before the relics of St Therese of Lisieux which have returned to Ireland for a two month tour.

Eight years ago, an estimated three million people flocked to see the saint's bones as they travelled on an 11-day tour of Ireland.

The relics of the 19th century French saint, who was canonised in 1925 and is known as 'The Little Flower', have been placed in a casket before the altar of the Carmelite Church in Dublin's Whitefriar Street for veneration during a special novena that lasts until next Thursday.

Bishop of Ferns Denis Brennan said St Therese, who died aged 24, was a better role model for millions of people than many of today's top celebrities. St Therese's relics arrived in Rosslare on Sunday and were brought to St Aidan's Cathedral in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, where they remained until Tuesday evening.

Bishop Brennan said: "We sometimes celebrate people who have nothing positive to offer, nothing which will enrich our lives or add to the sum of human happiness.

"But we gather to celebrate the life of a young French girl whose short life continues to touch the lives of millions around the world."

Carmelite Fr. J. Linus Ryan, the national co-ordinator of the visit, said last night that the highlight of this visit would be the commemoration of the saint's national day at Knock, Co Mayo, on Monday, May 4.

After spending nine days at Whitefriar Street in Dublin, the relics will be brought to locations around the country, starting with the Carmelite convents in Drumcondra and in Clonskeagh, also in Dublin.

"The principal reason is to mark her national day at Knock Shrine," Fr Ryan said. "That will be a packed out day. Over three million people venerated [her relics] in 2001 and that constitutes a world record per head of population."

Fr Ryan said he did not anticipate the same number of people visiting the relics this year as they will not be visiting the same number of locations as they did in 2001.

"But it will still be very big this time again," he added.

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