St Thérèse's Relics at Portsmouth Cathedral BISHOP CRISPIAN SAYS THANK YOU

Over the years of the history of our Diocese and our Cathedral in Portsmouth, we have witnessed many great events and occasions. But, for sheer intensity of prayer and real devotion, I doubt whether any have matched what we have experienced during the hours of the visit to the Cathedral of the Relics of Ste Therese.

The casket containing her bones was with us for about 26 hours and during that time, the Cathedral remained open and welcoming to about 4,500 people who came to pray.

Meticulous planning and attention to detail are crucial for such events and that was particularly necessary for such a huge event as the one which we have just hosted. As far as I could see, everything went without a hitch and this was entirely due to the tireless and devoted work over many months of a dedicated team so ably led by Canon David Hopgood and Fr Steven Restori.

Liturgists, musicians, altar servers, media personnel, stewards, listeners, guides and caterers, to name but some of those responsible for all the logistics of this great event, worked wonderfully well together. They were completely and generously supported by the whole Cathedral parish community and by many other communities throughout the diocese. By working so well together, they have enabled our diocesan family to be abundantly blessed in these days.

There have been many occasions when I have been intensely proud to be the bishop of our diocese of Portsmouth, but never more so than now. I will keep the memory of these days and, I hope, the graces that have flowed from them forever in my heart.

Thank you all very much.


Bishop Crispian Hollis and St. Thérèse from Catholic Church (England/Wales) on Vimeo.

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 arrived early on the morning of the 16th of September 2009. The casket remained available for public and private devotion until 1100 the following day. See photos.

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 were a series of articles in Portsmouth People that I hope have helped us to understand the importance of this visit, not only for us as a Diocese, but for us as parishes and individuals. Everyone visiting the Relics had the chance to pray and touch the casket.

Our Catholic schools sent representatives to the morning Liturgy. Our parishes were also invited to send groups to the Mass with Anointing and/or the evening Mass. Pastoral areas were asked to take on the responsibility of a half an hour slot during the all night Vigil.

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