The Relics of Saint Therese of Lisieux and her parents Saints Louis and Zelie Martin will visit St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, on Sunday 12 August 2018. The Relics will arrive at the Cathedral for the 11am Mass on that morning and they will leave at 9am on the morning of Monday 13 August. During that time, people will have an opportunity to come and venerate the Relics of the family that embodies what is best in family life and they offer a wonderful example of what a family can become.
St Therese of Lisieux, otherwise known as The Little Flower is one of the most popular saints in the history of the Church and Pope St Pius X called her “the greatest saint of modern times”. At a young age, she felt the call to religious life and at the age of fifteen, she became a nun and joined two of her older sisters in the cloistered Carmelite Community in Lisieux in Normandy. After nine years as a religious, she died at the young age of twenty four and she was canonised a saint in 1925. Her feast day is 1st October. Three years ago, Pope Francis canonised her parents and they were the first spouses in the history of the Church to be canonised as a couple. Blessed Roses will be available in St Patrick’s Cathedral during the visit of the Relics.
- Sunday 12 August – 11am Mass and Welcome of Relics; 3pm Rosary; 5.30pm Mass; 7.30pm Evening Prayer; 10pm Night Prayer
(Cathedral will close at 11pm)
- Monday 13 August – 8am Mass; 9am Prayers of Departure of Relics
The Relics will be at the World Meeting of Families 2018 Opening Ceremony in the RDS, Dublin, on Tuesday, August 21, and they will also be in the sanctuary in the Phoenix Park for the Papal Mass on Sunday, August 26.
The Martin family: The story of the Martin family is an interesting one. Both Louis and Zélie were the children of soldiers who were constantly being posted from one place to another. The two only met as adults. Each one separately considered a religious vocation, but in both cases it turned out that this was not vocation to which they were called. Their desire to consecrate their lives to Christ found its fulfillment in marriage instead. They very deliberately chose to consecrate their marriage to Christ and to allow Him to be the principal influence in their married life. That, of course, is the very essence of Christian marriage, because the Sacrament of Marriage is not so much something that is received in a moment of time as something that people become. To be a Sacrament is to be a visible sign of Christ and it is the vocation of every Christian couple to be the channel of God’s love to one another, to their children and to the community in which they live.
Many people in the Church have come to the conclusion that Louis and Zélie Martin are a wonderful example of faith for married couples today, precisely because their experience was, in many respects, typical of many married couples today. Both Louis and Zélie worked as artisans. She was a lace-maker and he a clock-maker. Together they cared for their large family and this included caring for sick children, some of whom died. In this way they shared a worry and a grief that is known to many parents. One of their daughters was a “problem child” through no fault of her own and, of course, St. Therese herself experienced poor health as a child before entering the Carmelite Monastery.
In the second half of the nineteenth century, a very violent period in the history of Europe and a time of great secularism in France, Louis and Zélie lived out their marriage commitment with great fidelity. They developed a deep personal commitment to the mission of the Church, supporting projects out of their own financial resources and, in all of this, managed to transmit their own faith to their children, which is never an easy task.
A new reliquary was designed by French sculptor Fleur Nabert, to hold the relics of Saint Therese and her parents, so that these might inspire people to prayer and to mission (because of course Therese is patroness of the missions) and help Catholics to grow into a deeper understanding and a richer living out of Christian marriage. The reliquary contains a golden rose as the symbol of Therese and two lilies as symbols of her parents. The cylindrical shapes in which the relics of Louis and Zélie are contained, are joined symbolically by a pair of wedding rings.
Prayer for the Family: Father in heaven, you called Saints Zelie and Louis Martin to holiness through their married life. You gave them as Mother and Father to St Therese of Lisieux. Through their intercession, we ask you to bless married couples, bless our children and grandchildren. Guide us as citizens to make the kind of decisions that will support family life. We make this prayer through Christ our Lord. AMEN