09 June 2022, The Tablet

St Bernadette's relics to cross Britain

St Bernadette's relics to cross Britain

Relics of St Bernadette, pictured here at St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City last month.
CNS photo/Gregory A Shemitz)

The relics of Lourdes visionary Saint Bernadette will tour England, Wales and Scotland later this year, beginning on 3 September and concluding on 1 November. The relics’ journey around Britain will see the remains of St Bernadette make special visits to Scotland’s Carfin Grotto, HMP Wormwood Scrubs – and Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral as well as the Catholic.

Other notable Catholic churches scheduled to host the relics as they travel to each of England’s 22 dioceses include Ampleforth Abbey, Yorkshire, Our Lady of the Assumption and the English Martyrs in Cambridge, and St Winefride’s Well Shrine in Holywell. The relics tour, first announced in November 2021, also includes a stop specifically for the Roman Catholic Bishopric of the Forces in Clifton Cathedral on 7 September. When first announced, the visit was compared to the tour of the relics of St Thérèse of Liseux.

In a letter released through the tour’s official website, Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols said that the visit “offers us a welcome opportunity to bear active witness to our faith, joining with one another across our many communities to encounter God’s love and find spiritual, emotional, and psychological healing and renewal”. He asked Catholics to participate in the tour and to continue that participation by considering pilgrimage to Lourdes itself in future. Concluding his letter, the Cardinal thanked God “for the faith of St Bernadette and for the many gifts and graces the relic tour will bring”.

Bernadette Soubirous, the child of a miller from Lourdes, southern France, experienced visions of Mary, Mother of Christ, between 11 February and 16 July 1858. After a canonical investigation, Church authorities declared the visions “worthy of belief” in 1862, and Lourdes rapidly became a major site of pilgrimage. Around 70 miracles attributed to the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes have been validated by the Church to date. Bernadette was canonised in 1933 and her remains were preserved in a shrine in the town of Nevers, central France, the location of the convent Bernadette joined in 1866 and died in in 1879. They are now ordinarily held in the Upper Basilica of Lourdes, which before the coronavirus pandemic hosted around 3.5 million pilgrims a year.


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