St Thérèse of Lisieux goes to prison

Not all of her, just part of her thigh and foot bones in a gold casket, towards the end of a tour of the UK. The prison concerned is called Wormwood Scrubs (really) in west London. Press Association reporter Martha Linden writes:

Around 100 inmates of Wormwood Scrubs prison venerated the relics of the 19th century nun St Thérèse of Lisieux as part of possibly the most unusual prison visit ever in England and Wales.

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Dressed in regulation grey flannel tracksuits, many with rosary beads around their necks, they knelt before, prayed and kissed the transparent dome protecting the gold and wood casket containing part of the bodily remains of the saint.

They had been selected from around 300 Roman Catholic inmates at the prison to take part in a special Mass marking the visit of the relics to the category B prison in west London.

Under the eye of watchful prison officers in the magnificent surroundings of the wooden vaulted Anglican chapel in the prison, they sang Amazing Grace, read from the bible and received communion from the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols.

During the Mass, two prisoners dressed in luminous work vests and jeans acted as alter servers, one dispensing incense so vigorously throughout the chapel that the smoke alarms were activated twice.

The prisoners heard a sermon from Father Anthony Doe, Chaplain in the Carmelite Order based in Notting Hill. He told the prisoners of the “dark night of the spirit” experienced by St Thérèse , when she lay suffering the agonies of tuberculosis.

He said Jesus had revealed himself to her during her suffering and desolation.

Father Doe told the congregation including prison staff, prison officers and invited guests that “countless millions” had been attracted to St Therese through the tours throughout the world by her relics.

He urged the prisoners to pray to receive the gifts of St Therese including her love and her ability to experience Jesus Christ through suffering and adversity.

He said the prisoners had not planned to be in Wormwood Scrubs.

“If you use your time here to see this, this is an opportunity to receive these gifts.”

He added: “Because Thérèse is praying with us we receive these gifts in abundance. This is a very, very special grace today.”

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8 years 10 months ago
I am very touched by this news.
Prisoners are the lepers of our time, human lives that are considered unredeemable and thrown away, forgotten. 
The visit by St. Therese is deeply reassuring to me that God is with them.

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