The visit of Saints Louis, Zelie and Saint Therese (Little Flower)

Just over a year ago we started to prepare for the World Meeting of Families. The Icon specially written for the Meeting began it’s journey around Ireland and visited many Churches in every diocese. Wherever the Icon went there were ceremonies and services held to celebrate and pray for the families of the parish and the wider community. People left their petitions for their families and friends with the Icon. These petitions were then sent to different contemplative houses of nuns so that they would keep these intentions in their prayers until the World Meeting of Families. We placed the intentions assigned to us under the altar and remembered them in our prayers at every Mass and whenever we came to the Chapel to pray. At Evening Prayer we included them in the intercessions and recited the official prayer for the World Meeting of Families.

As we prepared to attend the Meeting with all the Carmelite family, Priests, Brothers, Sisters and Lay Carmelites we received news that the relics of Sts. Louis and Zelie with their daughter St Therese (Little Flower) would also be attending! This certainly put us on high alert! They would also be touring Ireland both before and after the World Meeting of Families. The itinerary was worked out and dates assigned as to when they would visit each Carmelite house and Cathedral throughout the country. Our allotted time was on 21st August between 10.00am and 2.00pm.

It was preparation time - the reliquary of St Therese was very wide and high and posed problems for our narrow doors. One door on the corridor had to be taken down and the relics had to be taken around the back of the house to enter by the wider door! To mark the solemn moment of their arrival our visiting Sister from the Holy Land, played the African drum and led the procession.

Of course all the preparation was worth it, we were privileged to have the honour of having the Relics in our small chapel. So many people came (the chapel as full for the four hours) to venerate them and pray for their intentions. Some wrote their intentions and left them in the basket provided. They are now under the altar and we pray for them daily.

All too soon the time for departure came and they left for the R.D.S and the official opening Ceremony for the World Meeting of Families. This opening Liturgy was a celebration of Evening Prayer and was entitled Le Cheile le Chriost (together with Christ) and was led by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. It set the tone for the week and brought us a personal message from Pope Francis.

The Meeting – Pastoral Congress took place over the following three days. It offered a programme of workshops and discussions as well as fun and prayerful activities for individuals and families. We saw many families from all over the world and Ireland gathered to celebrate family life. There was a wonderful atmosphere of joy as families met and shared and supported each other.

Then came Croke Park and the festival of families and the arrival of Pope Francis. Words don’t describe…. The grand finale was Phoenix Park. It was very moving to hear Pope Francis take the sins of abuse into the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and to beg pardon and healing. We pray daily for healing for those hurt by abuse.

While the visit of Pope Francis was short, families will have a lot to remember from the Congress. The Relics continue their journey until the final farewell in Whitefriar St. on Saturday 8th September at 3.00pm.