Perhaps we did wonder a bit about what the response of Glasgow’s Catholic community would be to the visit of the relics of St Therese of Lisieux to the city in this self-proclaimed secular modern age. The answer became clear to those of us present when the relics were brought to St Andrew’s Cathedral on 17 September on the last stage of their visit to Scotland.
If people weren’t hanging from the cathedral’s beautiful chandeliers, it was probably only because they could not reach them. They were certainly filling the aisles, the choir loft, the stairs and even overflowing into the Italian Garden. Polite crowd control was necessary from time to time to enable the planned services to take place.
Thanks were indeed due to the Knights of St Columba whose members smilingly and courteously facilitated the queues of people wishing to come and touch or kiss the reliquary in its place at the front of the sanctuary of the cathedral. And of course there were photos aplenty being taken to record the moment, and roses by the score being brought to honour the saint known as the Little Flower.
The services for the visit, beginning with 8.15 Mass each morning and ending with Compline at 10 pm, were supported musically by members of the St Mungo Singers, the East End Deanery Choir and the Cathedral Choir. All found the experiences deeply affecting as they watched and listened to the congregations praying wholeheartedly to the Little Flower for themselves and those they loved.
At the reception of the relics at the Cathedral, Archbishop Tartaglia spoke of St Therese as a great saint who was loved and revered for her “little way” of holiness, and prayed that the visit of her relics would be a source of graces and blessings. He invited people to pray during this time for the Pope, the Bishops and all the People of God, particularly any who were suffering.