Portsmouth has seen many Royals and heroes enter the great Port over the last five hundred years. But perhaps none so humble and well-travelled as the relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux who will enter the harbour early on the morning of the 16th of September 2009. The casket will be taken to the Cathedral and remain available for public and private devotion until 1100 the following day.

Since her death St Thérèse has visited over 40 countries including Ireland, Jordan, Kazakhastan and Iraq. Wherever the relics have travelled there has been conversion, healing, both physical and spiritual, and the discovery of vocation. I hope the occasion of this important and historic visit to our cathedral and Diocese will be a time of great grace and an opportunity to reach out to those with and without faith. Some Muslims actually venerate St Therese as 'the little saint to whom Allah refuses nothing'.

Some may of course see this visit of the relics as a thing of the past, of a more superstitious age. The veneration of relics is a sign of the incarnate nature of our Catholic faith. We need tangible signs and symbols to help us grow in our love of God. One Bishop in Ireland said: 'What the casket contained was not a bundle of bones, but the remains of a burnt-out love of God'.

Over the next few months there will be a series of articles in Portsmouth People that will I hope help us to understand the importance of this visit, not only for us as a Diocese, but for us as parishes and individuals. I have already had many people enquiring from across the Diocese and beyond asking if can they bring a group. The answer is 'Yes!' The timetable gives the main Liturgies that are taking place. But everyone visiting the Relics can have the chance to pray and touch the casket.

Our Catholic schools will be sending representatives to the morning Liturgy. Our parishes will also be invited to send groups to the Mass with Anointing and/or the evening Mass. Pastoral areas will be asked to take on the responsibility of a half an hour slot during the all night Vigil. For update information please visit the cathedral website: www.portsmouthcatholiccathedral.org.uk If you have any thoughts or enquiries then please use the website email address.

St Thérèse was declared a Doctor of the Church. Her poverty conceals immense riches showered on a little one by God. How much we might share in these riches largely depends on us.

Canon David Hopgood
Dean of the Cathedral