Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Shower of Roses... and Torrent of People

Closing out a triumphant UK tour that's surpassed all expectations and seen the masses turn out at each stop, the traveling relics of St Therese of Lisieux arrived yesterday at Westminster Cathedral, where some 100,000 are expected to venerate pieces of the Little Flower's leg and foot over their five-day stay, during which England's mother church will remain open around the clock.

Having visited a prison and the Church of England's second cathedral alongside the more customary houses of worship, the relics' British trek has generated an exceptional amount of press coverage and public interest, both reflecting the mix of curiosity and cynicism Catholicism tends to arouse in the Isles. While well over 100,000 Brits traveled to see the relics before the tour reached Westminster, a crowd estimated at over 2,000 waited outside the cathedral for their arrival last night, and the capital church has advised visitors to be prepared to queue up.

Still much celebrated and cherished by the masses for her "little way" of spirituality, Therese was declared a Doctor of the Church by John Paul II on the 1997 centenary of her death at 24.

Likewise honored as patroness of the missions, Therese is but the third woman to receive the distinction alongside Saints Catherine of Siena and her Carmelite forebear Teresa of Avila, both of whom were so elevated by Pope Paul VI in 1970.