The serious business of Church renewal will gather pace in Scotland later this year when the relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux visit the country for the first time.
Catholic officials are hoping that the three-week tour, from August 30 to September 20, will be as productive as that south of the border a decade ago.
On that occasion, more than a quarter of a million pilgrims venerated the remains of the French saint, many of them queuing patiently to do so, leaving the administrator of Westminster Cathedral “awestruck” by the numbers of people, including many lapsed Catholics, who turned up.
The invitation to bring the relics to Scotland was issued by the country’s bishops collectively and they will be taken to each of their eight dioceses.
Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews and Edinburgh said he hoped the visit would be an occasion for Catholics there to grow in faith and in holiness.
“It is my fervent prayer that the visit … will provide a very special opportunity for all of us to learn from the saintly example of the Little Flower, the better to imitate her ‘little way’ of seeking holiness in everyday life, and to ask for her heavenly assistance in doing so,” he said.
The people of Scotland have historically had an affection for the French, partly through their “old alliance” against the English, so it would be unsurprising if crowds once again gathered to press roses or photographs of loved ones up against the saint’s casket.
Yet St Thérèse was a simple Carmelite nun who outwardly differed little from other Sisters in her community and who died at the age of 24 in 1897. It was only when her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, was published in 1898 that she was recognised, in the words of Pope St Pius X, as “the greatest saint of modern times”.
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