Christ cross

The relics of Saint Bernadette will cross Brittany

Relics of Saint Bernadette, pictured here at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York last month.

photo CNS/Gregory A Shemitz)

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

Other notable Catholic churches slated to host the relics as they travel to each of England’s 22 dioceses include Ampleforth Abbey in Yorkshire, Our Lady of the Assumption and the English Martyrs in Cambridge, and St Winefride’s Well Shrine at 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 September 7. When it was first announced, the visit was compared to the visit to the relics of Saint Thérèse of Liseux.

In a letter posted on the tour’s official website, the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, said the visit “offers us a welcome opportunity to give active witness to our faith, uniting with one another in our many communities to encounter the love of God and find spirituality, emotional and psychological healing and renewal.” He asked Catholics to participate in the tour and to continue this participation by considering the pilgrimage to Lourdes itself in the future. Concluding his letter, the cardinal thanked God “for the faith of Saint Bernadette and for the many gifts and graces that the visitation of the relics will bring”.

Bernadette Soubirous, the child of a miller in Lourdes, southern France, had visions of Mary, Mother of Christ, between February 11 and July 16, 1858. After a canonical investigation, church authorities declared the “trustworthy” visions in 1862, and Lourdes quickly became a major place of pilgrimage. About 70 miracles attributed to the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes have been validated by the Church to date. Bernadette was canonized in 1933 and her remains were kept in a shrine in the town of Nevers in central France, the location of the convent Bernadette joined in 1866 and died in 1879. They are now usually held in the upper basilica of Lourdes, which before the coronavirus pandemic welcomed around 3.5 million pilgrims a year.