The visit to the Philippines of the pilgrim relics of Saith Thérèse of the Child Jesus ends after they have gone to more than 50 dioceses and apostolic vicariates, which each has jurisdiction over several parishes, after four months since they arrived in January 2.
The relics visited as far north as the Apostolic Vicariate of Tabuk in the Cordillera region and in the south in the Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo in Sulu in Mindanao. An apostolic vicariate is a territorial jurisdiction of the Catholic Church where dioceses or parishes have not yet been established.
Saint Thérèse’s relics also visited Malacañan Palace, at Kalayaan Hall, where welcome prayers were recited and rose petals were showered on the relics.
At the relics’ every stop, thousands of faithful queued to venerate the well-loved saint, the patron saint of florists, foreign missions, loss of parents, priests and the sick, particularly those with tuberculosis.
Farewell Mass on April 30
A farewell Mass, thanksgiving and send-off ceremonies for Saint Thérèse will be held at the Shrine of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus in Villamor, Pasay City, today at 6:30 p.m.
The Shrine of St. Thérèse, together with the National Organizing Committee for the relics’ visit, held the “Walk with us, dear Therese” free tribute-concert and celebration of the conclusion of the visit on April 29 at 8 p.m.
The concert also marked the launching of the “Thérèse” album by the Jesuit Music Ministry, featured the Bukas Palad Music Ministry, Hangad Music Ministry, Darwin Lomentigar and “St. Thérèse Kaalagad, Kaibiga’t, Ka-Misyon” by Toto Sorioso. It was in cooperation with Jesuit Communications.
It was the fifth visit of the relics to the Philippines. The earlier visits were in 2000, 2008, 2013 and 2018.
The visit of Saint Thérèse’s relics to the Philippines coincided with her 150th birth anniversary on January 2, and the centennial of her beatification on April 29.
The Order of Discalced Carmelites, to which she belongs, is actually holding a three-year commemoration of Saint Thérèse until the centenary of her canonization on May 17, 2025.
The saint’s 150th birth anniversary was also recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco).
Pope Francis has said that Unesco’s recognition of Saint Thérèse “opens new perspectives for the dissemination of her message of life, peace and love to ‘the most remote islands’ as Thérèse of Lisieux expresses it itself, to the ‘outskirts.’”
For his part, Monsignor Francesco Follo, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to Unesco, said: “Given the fame of Thérèse de Lisieux in the Catholic community [the city of Lisieux being the second place of pilgrimage in France after Lourdes], the celebration of her birthday can be an opportunity to highlight the role of women in religions, in the fight against poverty and the promotion of inclusion. It can also reinforce Unesco’s message on the importance of culture [poems and written plays] in the promotion of universal values and as a vector of interreligious dialogue,”
Mystic, Doctor of the Church
Saint Thérèse, a mystic, was a Carmelite nun and doctor of the Catholic Church.
Born as Marie-Francoise-Therese Martin in Alençon, France, January 2, 1873, she was baptised two days later.
She was the youngest of the nine children of Zelie and Louis Martin. The couple’s four children, however, died while very young.
Thérèse joined Carmel of Lisieux at the young age of 15 years. She died of tuberculosis on September 30, 1897, at age 24.
She is best known for her posthumous publications, including the book “Story of a Soul,” published in October 1898
She was canonized on May 17, 1925, and was declared a Doctor of the Church by then-Pope John Paul II in 1997, making her the second Carmelite nun to receive that distinction after St. Teresa of Avila, the Littleflower.org said.
Pope John Paul II stated: “Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face is the youngest of all the Doctors of the Church, but her ardent spiritual journey shows such maturity, and the insights of faith expressed in her writings are so vast and profound that they deserve a place among the great spiritual masters.”
‘Little flower,’ ‘little way’
The saint is called Thérèse of Lisieux having grown up and had entered the Carmel of Lisieux.
She is also known as Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, her religious name. She chose this name owing to her great devotion to the Infant Jesus, and her spirituality of a childlike simplicity and trust in God’s love.
The tag “little flower” is also associated with the young saint because, besides liking flowers, she saw herself as the “little flower of Jesus” who gave glory to God by just being her beautiful little self among all the other flowers in God’s garden, according to Society of Little Flower said in its website.
She believed that her life was just beginning for God, promising “to spend her heaven doing good on earth” and to a “shower of roses.”
Thérèse’s spirituality is simple and called it her “little way.” She believed that life presents enough challenges and opportunities for grace. She teaches that God is everywhere, in every situation and person, and in the ordinary, simple details of life, the Society of Little Flower said.
Among the famous quote of St. Therese is: “We have only this life to live by faith. It is true I am not always faithful, but I never lose courage. I leave myself in the Arms of Our Lord. We must abandon the future into the hands of God.”
Family of saints, nuns
Thérèse’s own parents, Zelie and Louis Martin, were themselves canonized as saints by Pope Francis on October 18, 2015.
The pope said in his homily, “The holy spouses Louis Martin and Marie-Azelie Guerin practiced Christian service in the family, creating day by day an environment of faith and love which nurtured the vocations of their daughters, among whom was Saint Therese of the Child Jesus.”
They were the first married couple with children to be canonized in the same ceremony.
Besides Thérèse, all of her four sisters were also nuns—Marie, Pauline and Celine were also Carmelites, while Leonie entered the Visitation Convent.
The family could also have its fourth saint. Leonie, with the religious name, Sister Françoise-Thérèse, is also on the road to be declared a saint. She is now called “Servant of God,” the title given to a candidate for sainthood whose cause is still under investigation, prior to being declared Venerable.
Image credits: Lyn Resurreccion