Sunday, September 20, 2009

Reactions to St Therese's Relics

I don't know if my own diocese is the only one in the country to have declined to receive the relics of St Therese. There are logistic problems with our Cathedral being in the ducal town of Arundel which isn't exactly at the pulsating heart of things, so it is most probably easier for many of us to get to Westminster, Portsmouth or even Aylesford. Even so it seems a shame, I of course would have loved her to come here.
I was rather touched by the Bishop Hollis' remarks, after the relics rested in his Cathedral for a night and a day, .

“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 St Thérèse.

“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.”

Apparently almost 5,000 people came to pray.

Meanwhile in The Times Matthew Parris fulminates:

Just when my disbelief [in atheism] was flagging — not for want of certainty but out of weariness with banging on — comes a report that energises me with anger. The relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux, a 19th-century Roman Catholic nun, have arrived in Britain for a month-long tour of England and Wales.

What? And we’re reporting this deadpan — and not in the Wacky World pages of light magazines? “Organisers said that the arrival of the casket, containing pieces of her thigh and foot bones, was likely to attract hundreds of thousands of pilgrims.” I’m sorry: “pilgrims”? Isn’t the word “dupes”? Does balanced reporting require neutrality even towards the self-evidently preposterous? Would a conference of the Flat Earth Society get giggle-free treatment on the news?

And in the Guardian Simon Jenkins ends a slightly less vehement article:

Relics are jujus, religious placebos for the credulous classes, which presumably includes the inmates of Wormwood Scrubs. Most of us find them ghoulish. But other cultures think the same of our eating meat or worshipping football or reading the stars or anthropomorphising animals. In the hierarchy of weird pastimes, relic worship must be among the most harmless. We do best to regard it as a test, not of our power of reason but of our power of tolerance.

Interestingly, he says Cardinal Hume vetoed the possibility of an earlier tour of the relics.


Volpius Leonius said...

Their tolerance of Catholic culture is underwhelming isn't it.

me said...

"We do best to regard it as a test, not of our power of reason but of our power of tolerance."

And who,eactly is the 'we' Simon Jenkins speaks for,with his one voice?

I have to pray about the other man,Matthew as he makes my blood boil and I don't want to let my anger lead me into sin.Maybe I'll do a novena to St Therese for him.....his mother was called Theresa strangely enough.

The whole point,from a Christian perspective is that 5,000 people came to pray!
These two journalists(if that's what they are) will be looking for a phenomena that can be 'intellectually' understood(what with them being so rational n'all).
from the Jerusalem bible
"I am going to destroy the wisdom of the wise and bring to nothing the understanding of any who understand.
Where are the philosophers? Where are the experts? And where are the debaters of this age? Do you not see how God has shown up human wisdom as folly?
Since in the wisdom of God the world was unable to recognise God through wisdom, it was God's own pleasure to save believers through the folly of the gospel.

Cor 1.Ch.1.19-21.

Power to the powerless! Don't you just love Jesus' way of doing things?

JARay said...

The comments on The Guardian are more vitriolic than those on The Times. That may well say something about the readers of those newspapers.
As to their opinions, well, who cares what the idiots think?! The way that they express those opinions is the thing to be noted.

Michael Petek said...

There's another report that makes me fairly vexed.

The relics of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin are on permanent public display in a mausoleum in Moscow.

They never, ever go on tour anywhere, and the queues of people standing outside to pay their respects prove there are several mugs born every minute.

nickbris said...

Trust "Stonewall Parris" to come up with some old cobblers he's good at it and gets very well overpaid.Do we not have a Fatwa mechanism amongst Christians to deal with this nonsense?

They certainly wouldn't dare to say anything against Islam or Judaiism.

Unknown said...

There is also a very negative piece about the relics in today`s "Sunday Times". Apparently according to the author the exhibition of the relics should be banned. The main "charge" seems to be that a few people think the relics may have miraculous "powers".

It must be a time of "slow news" but it is quite disconcerting to see such attacks. I hope people are not put off by such attacks from going to see and contemplate the relics.

elena maria vidal said...

How sad, Father. I was blessed to venerate the saint's relics when they were brought to a remote Carmelite Monastery in our diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. In spite of the location, hundreds of people came.

Monica said...

The relics of St Teresa arrived at St Chad's Cathedral Birmingham yesterday afternoon. By the close of the night, over 5,000 pilgrims (yes, pilgrims, Mr Parris) had venerated her relics. A Mass of Anointing was held in the afternoon, at which the cathedral was full.

When I arrived last night for Vespers and Benediction, led by the staff and students of Oscott Seminary, the Cathedral was again full to the doors and many people were queuing for Confession.

Young people were going to be filling the Cathedral again for an all-night vigil and steady crowds were there this morning as I passed by.

Nothing but good can come from this visit of St Teresa's relics - no matter what the journalistic (and other) cynics might opine.

I also was moved by Bishop Hollis' comments. I suspect he is typical of those who have opened their doors to the Little Flower.

Shame that the relics are not being welcomed in A and B. Even if Arundel itself is not suitable, there must surely be other places in the diocese. One wonders who decides these things - and why.

George said...

Yet more proof that the devil is in charge of the media machine!

He is terrified of the spiritual devotion and the possibility of a re-awakening of faith in some who have fallen away by 'experiencing' this great Saint. Of course he (the devil) will mobilise his minions the newspaper pen pushers and journalists to write their anti-Catholic drivel and ignorant rantings.

Well, they can shove their 'oh so cleverer than thou' pompous aetheistic brain-dead culture where the sun don't shine'.

Meanwhile, may St Therese continue to shower the world with her rose petals.

Little Flower - pray for us.

joe mc said...

I, too, was bemused to see that the relics weren't coming to A and B. Are we a 'satellite' diocese? I nearly ripped the Jenkins article out of my newspaper when I read it! And yet, St Therese endured personal and public humiliation during her life on earth, so I just put the paper in the bin and kept the sport section. Looking forward to their coming to Westminster.

Physiocrat said...

Isn't Simon Jenkins the son of an Anglican vicar?

But why are atheists and protestants worried about a box of old bones?

Paulinus said...

Brilliant news. Just goes to show we can still get under their skin....

CopticCatholic said...

I can understand something of how the writers in the Times and Guardian think. Although we venerate the saints, we Oriental Catholics don't have quite the same tradition regarding relics as those of the Latin Rite. While it's true that there were many abuses regarding relics in the past, the same cannot be said today, although some superstition may remain.

St Therese is one of the Latin Rite saints who has wide appeal and it is gratifying that her relics will be on display at York Minister. Many years ago a priest friend took me to Lisieux as a 'thank you' gift. I was less than keen to accompany him but went out of respect as he had a deep devotion to Therese Martin. After 3 days in Lisieux I left realising something of her greatness. If people turn to God in prayer because the relics of Therese are present, it is a good thing.

Anagnostis said...

Quite soon after the Lenin Mausoleum was completed, a sewage pipe running under it, ruptured during the construction, began to discharge its contents into the place. St Tikhon's observation: "The myrhh accords with the relics".

I think you should delighted at the absurd fulminations of these ridiculous people. All that vituperative bile and insensate hatred of the rich, the powerful and the worldly wise serves only to demonstrate their raging impotence confronted with just one beautiful and holy soul.

Bill of L.A. said...

Actually, I have more hope for the overheated, gasket-blowing Matthew Parris than for the cool and tolerant Simon Jenkins.

gemoftheocean said...

Why read rags like the Times or the Guardian? They aren't fit to line the floors of birdcages?

You should read the Torygraph's nice report They even had positive vibes from the Anglican community. [I remember reaing in one of my books re: Therese that that fairly early on in the game there was one Anglican couple who lived in France who became devoted to this saint. So, I'm not surprised she'd have reasonance in the Anglican community.

I'm sorry about your bishop refusing. That was misguided, I think.

I hope as many of your parishioners as possible will be able to find a way to go see the relics.

[I'm shocked that your press was so hostile from the Times and Guardian.] Apparently their editors are miracles in themselves, having no brains.

Just another mad Catholic said...

I'm very excited when the Little Flower comes to Clifton two days from now !!!

ffn said...

If St. Therese can find her way to Coulby Newham, what a great shame she could not be made welcome at the Cathedral of the great Catholic Martyr St.Philip Howard

Physiocrat said...

Gem, you are right the Guardian is written by and for people with brains that have shut down. You should look at the paper's web site if you want to see what passes for progressive thinking in Brtain today.

Guardian Comment

Pure drivel

Victoria said...

I took Therese for my confirmation name because it was fashionable then. Many years later I read her meditations and was humbled by her holiness. She is truly a saint for our times.

I find the whole relic thing a bit creepy though but if they bring people to Mass and Confession that is a good thing.

JARay said...

When the relics of St. Therese came to Australia there was also a set of boards made with the story of her life on these boards. They were about 9 feet tall and about 3 feet wide and they were set upon their own stands. Some of those parishes which did not actually receive the relics did instead set up these boards in somewhere like the church hall or rooms. They were double sided of course and they could be arranged in such a way that there was a progression of her life story with pictures, letters and narrative and one could progress along one side of the boards and back the other way to get the whole story of her life. My own parish had the loan of these boards and I took a couple of turns in sitting in the room with them both to protect them and to guide visitors as to how to progress around the boards. We also had some soft music playing as a background. I took along my own plainchant. When I did my stint with them more than a few visitors came to see them.
Sorry, I don't know who made the boards and set them up, but they were well done.

Crux Fidelis said...

Relic veneration is not really my thing but if it brings people closer to God then bring it on.

As for Matthew Parris, I recall him as an MP going under cover for ITVs "World In Action" to prove that it was possible to live comfortably on dole money. He failed miserably of course. Towards the end of his experiment he was seen mooching drinks in a Newcastle pub. That is always the first image that comes to mind when I hear his name. He also hates the music of Frank Sinatra. Enough said!

Clare said...

Just talking to someone who was working down at Portsmouth Cathedral and they had nearly 7,000 people visit the relics. The queue was still a 2 hour wait even at 2am in the morning. Rather extraordinary really.

SPQR said...

Once again, we have proof that there is no intolerance like liberal intolerance...

Et Expecto said...

The moral is:

Everybody go and visit the relics.

Patricius said...

"How sour and how uncouth a dissonance!"
The fulminations of these journalists is reminiscent of the Demons in Cardinal Newman's "The Dream of Gerontius"

roydosan said...

The Grauniad isnt't that bad if you avoid the comments pages. Their news stories are nearly always neutral and very professional unlike some papers where every news piece is actually someone's opinion.

Dilly said...

The lovely thing is that it shows up the comfy protestantish NuChurch to be a veneer. Dig deep and you will find people who still respect the orthodox and mystical - they may wear shorts and sandals to Church, skip confession and/or like guitars - but deep down they want more. They still want Masses for the Dead, and make novenas to St Joseph to sell their house. Stalin said to the Pope "Where are your Batallions?"
Here they are - and like a slumbering giant, they stir.

Jonathan Marshall said...

Interesting, isnt it? The left-wing, bien pensant, Guardian-reading liberals are all for long as it's of something of which they approve.

The comments on the Guardian website show the ignorant, bigoted and utterly intolerant other side of the coin

Peter said...

Thank you for drawing our attention to these articles, and to the debate about relics.
I would just note that Matthew Parris and Simon Jenkins are going through the motions. They rely on attitudes expressed by thinkers like David Hume, then popularized, and adopted long ago in England. Matthew Parris even acknowledges how hackneyed what he writes is when he 'bangs on'.
But what is the source of their fury? Why this excessive reaction? Perhaps their emotion is not only the result of outrage at a cruel violation of Reason (a goddess they imagine to be entirely on their side).
I believe there is also fear behind their denunciations: firstly, the Englishman’s fear of people who are able to express emotions. Then, there is an inability to contemplate any knowledge or power beyond what is empirically obvious.
I would wish the public debate in England to be free of such fears. We can be confident in the fact that "longe pulcherrima quae ignoramus."

William said...

Patricius: "How sour and how uncouth a dissonance!"

A most apposite reference, given that the Demons' chorus includes the following:

What's a saint? …
A bundle of bones
Which fools adore
When life is o'er.

The vitriol and hatred (thinly disguised as mockery) which the visit seems to have engendered echoes the Demons almost exactly.

gemoftheocean said...

Of course what's funny is that these lunatic atheists believe in the junk science of "Man causes global warming."

George said...

Fr William - that's a really interesting post. I've never heard of this 'demon's chorus' and it sends a chill down my bones for sure!, simply because of it's very mocking nature PROVING that the 'bones' or relics of our beloved Saints are very powerful indeed at damaging the agenda, the lies and deceits of the enemy the devil, and bringing about the conversion of souls.

Not only should the relics of St Therese remain on tour around the UK, but bring out even more relics - especially those of our English and Welsh Martyrs.

To drive the enemy even further from our 'spiritual shores' and back into hell these relic tours should be accompanied by every parish in the land redoubling its efforts on reciting The Prayer for England and The Prayer to St Michael at the end of every Sunday Mass. Either we're participating in this battle or we're mere spectators, come on people - WAKE UP! Jesus never called us to 'put down our cross and take a nap'.

When we really start fighting back with PRAYER POWER then we will really start seeing miracles!!!!

Physiocrat said...

Gem, please don't not run the "no such thing as global warming" argument, it is bad for your credibility.

It has been known for decades that CO2 levels have risen steadily since the beginning of the industrial revolution. CO2 is a greenhouse gas. Temperatures have been rising, which is quite nice when we are at latitude 57 because spring comes sooner and nowadays we get a nice warm September and not much snow in the winter.

OK there are other possible causes and the climate has always been changing, but any court would convict in the face of evidence like that.

There are powerful vested commercial interests in denying the existence of the greenhouse effect. Don't play their game.

What does not make sense is to say that one will save the planet by going on a tram instead of driving, but there are all sorts of other good reasons for using public transport rather than driving, and for not wasting energy by overheating one's house.

George said...

Gem and Henry - This really isn't the post upon which to argue global warming. We are sidetracking the real and far more important issue of the impact of having St Therese's Holy Relics here in the UK. Fr Ray - you decide whether this is right or not and perhaps put up another post on the Global Warming thingy!

However, sorry Henry - you are wrong on each count. The CO2 and anthropogenic global warming myth is pure junk science.

A brief refutation:

Typical junk science comment "Carbon dioxide, the gas largely blamed for global warming, has reached record-high levels in the atmosphere after growing at an accelerated pace in the past year..."

Facts: Carbon dioxide is not the major greenhouse gas (water vapor is).

Carbon dioxide accounts for less than ten percent of the greenhouse effect, as carbon dioxide's ability to absorb heat is quite limited.

Only about 0.03 percent of the Earth's atmosphere consists of carbon dioxide (nitrogen, oxygen, and argon constitute about 78 percent, 20 percent, and 0.93 percent of the atmosphere, respectively). So all this hype about zillions and millions of tons of CO2 emmissions because i drive my 4x4 boils down to absolutely nothing. This 10% increase in CO2 they all want us to panic about so that we have less children (fewer carbon footprints you see) amounts to an increase of,... er let's see now...(10% of 0.03 = 0.003) WOW! THAT'S REALLY SIGNIFICANT EH?? As one eminent Scientist put it "about as much impact as a fart in a hurricane!"

Furthermore that great big yellow ball in the sky, you know, the sun, not a gas (OH - I know technically it is, but not in our atmosphere), is primarily to "blame" for global warming -- and plays a very key role in global temperature variations as well.

Another typical junk science 'sound bite' goes something like: "Carbon dioxide, mostly from burning of coal, gasoline and other fossil fuels, traps heat that otherwise would radiate into space."

Well actually most of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere does not come from the burning of fossil fuels. Only about 14 percent of it does. Have a look at volcanoes both above ground and undersea.

And another junk science quote: "Global temperatures increased by about 1 degree Fahrenheit (0.6 degrees Celsius) during the 20th century, and international panels of scientists sponsored by world governments (IPCC) have concluded that most of the warming probably (that's real science-talk) was due to greenhouse gases."


Associated Press, "CO2 Buildup Accelerating in Atmosphere," as run by USA Today on March 21, 2004 at

"Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide," Oregon Institute of Science and Health, 2001, at

"There Has Been No Global Warming for the Past 70 Years," The Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change at

John Carlisle, "Kyoto Cover-up: TV News Gives One-Sided View on Global Warming," National Center for Public Policy Research National Policy Analysis #337, May 2001,

John Carlisle, "Cooling Off on Global Warming," National Center for Public Policy Research National Policy Analysis #284, April 2000,

John Carlisle, "Sun to Blame for Global Warming," National Center for Public Policy Research National Policy Analysis #203, June 1998, available at

Time this issue was thoroughly debated by real Scientists, not just political policymakers with an agenda.

God Bless.

Elizabeth said...

What is wrong with venerating the relics of saints. We visit our dead relatives in the cemetry. Now our Holy Saints relics are scattered all over the world, so the opportunity to venerate them in our own countries is a wonderful thing.

As George points out the devil does not want us to venerate the relics of Saints. In fact he doesn't want us to think about them at all as this would mean we would have to reflect on our own lives and that would no doubt require great change. The likes of Matthew Parris and Simon Jenkins are merely pawns in the hands of the devil, too ignorant to know any better and too proud and frightened to search for the truth.

Physiocrat said...

George, everyone has an agenda. But the many-fold increase in CO2 levels over the past 200 years is going to have consequences in all sorts of ways. There is also acidification of sea water. Argue your way out of that one.

As regards the effect of CO2, the theory was first proposed by Svante Arrhenius in 1896, the same scientist who established the theory of ionisation. His calculations are well in line with modern theory. There has been ample time to disprove the idea if it was nonsense.

You are right about the powerful effect of water vapour as a greenhouse gas. The addition of CO2 has an amplifying effect on the amount of water vapour that gets into the atmosphere. A small increase in temperature due to additional CO2 results in many times more water vapour in the atmosphere. There is a positive feedback loop system.

The other issue is that these resources are finite and there will be increasing competition for what remains. Which will have all sorts of consequences. Like wars. Iraq and Afghanistan would be of no more interest than basket-case countries in Africa if they were not sitting on oil or lay on routes needed for piplines.

People in the US need to curb their profligate habits. Some of them will do anything to claim otherwise which is why utterances from that side of the Atlantic are liable not to be taken seriously even though they may be true, but the junk science is not as junky as you are trying to argue.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Sorry, this is not a thread about global warming!!!!!

George said...

"Sorry, this is not a thread about global warming!!!!!"

Absolutely right Fr Ray - the relics of St Therese visiting these shores and their impact on the Faithful, the 'not-so' Faithful and the secular humanist aetheist types is what is important. That's the thread, let's stick to it.

My wife and I are off to Aylesford today for midday Mass, a Rosary walk and a hot pie followed by carrot cake and coffee to round off the afternoon. Will also make enquires about the programme for the few days during which the relics of St Therese will be at Aylesford Priory early October.

Beautiful sunny day out there - Our Blessed Lady never let's us down!

George said...

Back from Aylesford. Weather was fantastic - clear skies, sunny and hot!

Sadly mid-day Mass had been cancelled today (note pinned up on the chapel door). Never experienced that before. Hey-ho, the Friars must have had something else on.

Recited the Mysteries of Light along the Rosary Walk, followed by a visit to see Our Lord in the Holy Tabernacle in the Chapel of the English Martyrs.

Then a visit to the cafeteria for some refreshments. Guess you could say we were 'Cafeteria Catholics' today! Enjoyed every moment.

The relics of St Therese will arrive at Aylesford Priory and the service of Welcome will commence at 1.30pm on Friday 9th October.

There will be various forms of devotion/veneration of the relics etc.. running over the entire weekend, with a service of 'Farewell' at 3.30pm on Sunday 11th October.

If you are setting out for any particular day, you can check with the Friars beforehand on 01622 717272 or email or check their website

Fr Ray Blake said...

Sorry we don't go there!

Sadie Vacantist said...

You don't but our parish did in the same set of announcements!

pelerin said...

I have been surprised that there has been no mention in the Daily Mail of the visit of the relics of St Therese - until today. I thought the fact that thousands of people queuing was just going to be ignored.

However there is a two page spread by Robert Hardman who tells us he is a non Catholic and that the relics don't do anything for him but he has written an excellent and sympathetic article. There is a touch of humour too at which one could not take offence but no malice whatsoever unlike some of the other papers. It was good to read.

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