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Thousands of Catholics venerate relics of Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin

The relics of Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin at the Cathedral Church of St Mary and St Boniface in Plymouth (Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk)

Thousands of Catholics across southern England are venerating the relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux’s parents during a week-long tour.

Bishop Mark O’Toole welcomed the relics of Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin to the Diocese of Plymouth on Friday evening, having written to the shrine at Lisieux shortly after he became bishop last year to request the visit.

He received the relics at the Cathedral Church of St Mary and St Boniface in Plymouth. A Holy Hour with evening prayer was followed by Mass with anointing of the sick. The cathedral then remained open for private veneration of the relics, with night prayer at 9pm.

The relics remained in the cathedral until Monday, when they were transferred to the Holy Trinity church in Dorchester.

Mgr Robert Draper, a priest of Plymouth Diocese who was among 200 people at the Holy Trinity to witness the visit, said: “It was lovely, very devout, but simple, no brass bands or trumpets. There were all sorts of people, some families, some elderly people, some people coming out of work, care home workers from India and the Philippines, for whom this sort of devotion is more a part of everyday life. I did find it very moving. It helps you focus on the Martins, what they stand for, the devotion, the hard life they lived.”

On Wednesday the relics are due to be taken to the Diocese of Portsmouth, where they are to stop off at Southampton, Portsmouth and Reading.

Louis and Zélie Martin were beatified in 2008, becoming only the second beatified married couple in history after Luigi and Maria Quattrocchi, who were beatified in 2001. The Pope is expected to canonise the Martins during the family synod in Rome in October.