Church hopes St. Thérèse of Lisieux will inspire peace

Senior Roman Catholic Church delegation will tour Christian communities in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip with canonized nun’s remains.

By JONAH MANDEL
March 14, 2011 02:04
2 minute read.
Tapestry of St. Therese

tapestry of st therese 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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A senior Roman Catholic Church delegation will be conducting a prayer ceremony at Ben-Gurion Airport on Monday morning, marking the arrival of the remains of a saint whose brief presence in Israel and the Palestinian areas is hoped to inspire faith and goodwill, and “become a bridge to peace.”

Thérèse of Lisieux (1873 – 1897) was a French Carmelite nun who was canonized in 1925. In 1997, Pope John Paul II declared her a Doctor of the Church, a honorary title bestowed upon those whose writings greatly contributed to Christianity.

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Only 33 members of the Catholic Church to date have received the honor, and just three of them are women.

A Roman Catholic delegation from Brussels bearing her remains will be met by Apostolic Nuncio Antonio Franco, Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal and approximately 25 other senior representatives of the local Roman Catholic community, who will then transport the remains to Apostolic Franco’s residence in Jerusalem.

On Wednesday, a delegation will leave the residence and bring the remains to the Latin Patriarchate offices at Jaffa Gate. The relics will then circulate for nearly two months between various Christian communities in Jerusalem, the Palestinian Authority and Gaza Strip, becoming in effect “a bridge of peace,” Auxiliary Bishop of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem William Shomali told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.

“On the church level, it’s very important,” he said of the fact that the remains of the saint were being brought here. “Part of our faith is that saints have intercession – mediation between us and God,” he explained. “This is done by praying to them, honoring them but first and foremost imitating them,” he said of the saints. “We will speak about [Thérèse of Lisieux’s] life, how she loved the Lord and practiced spirituality.”

“Her intercession is very strong, and will help us in praying for peace,” Shomali added, noting the cooperation with the Interior Ministry’s Christian Department, who helped facilitate the itinerary. “They understood this is about spirituality and peace, and not politics,” he said. The relics will be flown to Spain in May.



Director of the Christian Department at the Interior Ministry Cesare Marjieh called the event “nearly unprecedented,” and compared its importance to that of a pontifical visit.

“This is very important to the Vatican, and the relics will be in all the major Christian communities here,” he told the Post. “We are happy to be able to support them and let them respect the relics.”

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