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I didn’t know it until I started googling around this morning, but right now the relics of Saint Therese of Lisieux are touring the United Kingdom. Today she’s at York Minster; more about the itinerary here.

Swine flu fears aside, if you’re in the neighborhood, go and say a prayer for us back here.

There is, by the way, a very odd comment in the combox for the swine flu article, in which somebody who describes himself as a “late priest” says that his mother (also late) cured herself of some ailment by drinking soup made from saints’ bones. I wonder whether she put them back into the reliquary afterwards, or buried them, or what. The whole episode seems peculiar. Naturally I’m perversely fascinated by it and am already building the latest in a series of award-winning unwritten novels around it. What award, you ask? Why the Lady Catherine de Bourgh
“I Would Have Been a Natural Proficient” award, of course.

But back to Saint Therese. If you can’t make it to York Minster, Plymouth, Birmingham, Cardiff, Liverpool, Salford, Lancaster, Middlesbrough, Leeds, Nottingham and Westminster Cathedrals, not to mention Wormwood Scrubs prison (presumably you wouldn’t visit there; she would be coming to you), you may choose to visit shrines in Rhode Island, Illinois, Alaska, and an Anglican-Use parish church in Kansas City.

Despite the rather sweety-sweet narratives of her childhood in the Catholic Children’s Treasure Box or who knows, maybe because of them — my children love Saint Therese. We have umpteen sets of homemade sacrifice beads floating about the house, which we use in sporadic bursts of enthusiasm before we lose them again. The beads are a good tactile mnemonic, though in our house sacrifices are apt to degenerate into acts of oppression, as in, “”I’m giving you this. I don’t care if you don’t want it. I don’t care if you don’t want it so much that you’re crying and going to tell on me. TAKE IT. And now I’m going to pull a bead, goody for me . . . ” Or else people want to interpret eating the last slice of cake as a noble act in the interest of the greater good, and pull a bead for that, too.

My teenager loved, and continues to love, The Story of a Soul, though some people come away from it with an unfortunate saccharine aftertaste. Laudem Gloriae offers a glimpse into the warrior saint.

You don’t have to be a Catholic to respond to this saint’s story with a greater private resolution to offer the smallest actions of your day to God as the gift of your heart, to make your thoughts, words and deeds cry, Holy, as Saint Gertrude puts it. I’m never very good at remembering this for more than five minutes, but I think I’ll get up from this desk now and try.

Saint Therese souvenirs, large and small:

A vintage statue from King Richard’s
Sacrifice beads, if you don’t have time to make your own
These little wooden folk-art dolls are rather fun. I feel better about them somehow than I do about the doll I wrote about here. This post dates from before the Great Website Launch, and the images have disappeared, but hopefully the links still work.

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