“ROSES there for the blessing of the relics. Anyone for the roses?”
The street seller at the door of Whitefriar Street Church wasn’t doing much business despite her entreaties. Not that the faithful who came to visit the relics of St Therese were too mean to buy the Little Flower a little bloom, but they’d gone to the bother of preparing their own.
Snipped from garden bushes, carefully wrapped in tinfoil, clutched throughout the novena, they were then carried lovingly to the altar where the reliquary carrying the young saint’s bones was making a return visit after eight years’ absence.
The relics of St Therese of Lisieux were last in Ireland in 2001, when hundreds of thousands of Catholics rejoiced in showing those who dismissed the nation as a hotbed of greed and materialism that, in fact, religious faith and devotion to a saint who personified simplicity was as strong as ever.
Now that financial times have changed, devotees were finding other reasons to reconnect with the saint.
“She was always very much a saint of hope and optimism,” said Fr J Linus Ryan who is coordinating the relics’ national tour.
“So many people are losing jobs and have concerns about the financial situation, I think they find comfort and inspiration in being close to St Therese.”
Sheila Kinsella from Ranelagh had her own reasons for coming. “I just had a cataract operation and the sight is great now, so I’m here in thanksgiving,” she explained.
Robert Alexander from Clontarf has also had a life-long devotion to St Therese. “She was very human. She had tremendous doubts herself and that makes her very real to ordinary people.”
Born “over the road” from the church, Christine, 79, said: “It reminds me life’s been good to me. My family is in good health and I’m not in need of anything so I’m not here to ask for anything, only to say, thanks,” adding with a wink, “Can you not see my halo shining?”
l The relics tour until May 10, stopping at other several other churches in Dublin as well as Moate, The Curragh, Kildare town, Dunshaughlin, Abbeylara, Longford, Loughrea, Delgany, Macroom, Killarney, Knock and Letterkenny.
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