The relics of St Therese of Lisieux and her parents – St Louis and Zelie Martin – arrived in Melbourne on Friday and will reside at the Carmelite Monastery in Kew.
It's been 18 years since the relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux, one of the most popular saints of modern times, last visited Australia. However, what was intended to be a four-month pilgrimage, in light of the situation concerning coronavirus pandemic, and taking under consideration government and Church directives, the pilgrimage of the relics has been temporarily suspended.
The relics will reside in the Carmelite Monastery, the national shrine for St Therese of Lisieux during Holy Week, but owing to social distancing restrictions, will not be made open to the public.
People are encouraged to view and pray with the relics online as they are live-streamed from the monastery.
The Carmelite nuns will be praying with the relics throughout this week and are extending a special invitation to join them for a special evening vespers at the Carmelite Monastery tonight and tomorrow from 5.45pm. It will be live-streamed directly to the Archdiocese of Melbourne YouTube Channel.
St Thérèse of Lisieux, also known as the Little Flower of Jesus, is the patron saint of mission, and the relics of St Thérèse last came to Australia in 2002 where they were met with an outpouring of veneration among the faithful.
The pilgrimage was officially announced in October 2019 by Catholic Mission, who have partnered with InvoCare to bring the relics to Australia. The relics have been touring the East Coast of Australia since February and were originally scheduled to continue their itinerary throughout all the states and territories until June.
The Story of St Thérèse of Lisieux
St Thérèse was born in 1873 and felt an early call to religious life. She entered the Carmelite order in Normandy at age 15 after experiencing what she called her ‘complete conversion’. Her simple way of living, spiritual writings and commitment to small acts of charity and love made her an immensely popular figure, and her canonisation in St Peter’s Basilica in 1925, just 28 years after her death, was attended by over 60,000 people.
The devotion to relics among many Catholics can be complex, but National Director of Catholic Mission Fr Lucas likens it to a fan's devotion to football. ‘People might go to a charity fundraiser and bid for a footy jersey signed by the team; something tangible and practical that serves as a reminder of the people or the event,’ he says. ‘That’s what the relics of the saints are intended to do, to remind us and give us the opportunity to enter into the life of those saints and what they can teach us.’
(VIDEO) Catholic Mission's National Director Fr Brian Lucas commenting on the visit of the relics of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux and her parents.