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Whole world visits St. Thérèse in Lisbon


Isabella H De Carvalho | ALETEIA

Isabella H. de Carvalho - published on 08/03/23

A group of pilgrims from France brought the relics of St. Thérèse of Lisieux to the World Youth Day! Pilgrims from all over the world have flocked to the church to pray.

Hidden up a small alley in the center of Lisbon’s crowded streets is the Church of St. Louis of the French. If it weren’t for the World Youth Day banner at the bottom of the alley, one might not even notice it is there. However, this week this church is hosting the relics of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, which have traveled all the way from France to be venerated by pilgrims coming to Lisbon from all over the world for World Youth Day.

“I’m really very happy, because this event allows all cultures, all Christians around the world, to see the relics of St. Thérèse,” said Théophane Chuchkoff, a 19-year-old from the Diocese of Bayeux-Lisieux, who was part of the group that brought the relics to Lisbon and who is now helping the parish welcome the pilgrims who have come to see them. “The Carmelites of Lisieux, the good Sisters, wanted us to bring these relics to Lisbon, to show the whole world.”


A quiet place amongst the hustle and bustle of WYD 

As soon as one enters the church, the calm and solemn atmosphere is palpable. The pews are full of people kneeling or sitting and praying quietly. Many go and kneel on the ground right in front of the relics, some touch the glass case surrounding them before leaving. Elderly Portuguese women and non-WYDers can also be seen amongst the crowd. Many write down their intentions and leave them at the foot of the altar. These pieces of paper will then be brought back to the Carmelites in Lisieux, along with a book where people can write down the names of priests for whom the nuns can pray. 

“To be here in this French church in Lisbon, it is like being in France in Lisieux where the main relics of the Saint are,” said Argentinain Father Mariano Varela, of the Institute of the Incarnate Word, who is accompanying a group of pilgrims from the US. “I am sure, as a devotee of St. Thérèse, that she will continue as promised to send from heaven rose petals as a sign, as an answer, to everyone’s prayer. More than ever during this WYD with the Holy Father.” 


A personal and intimate moment of prayer 

As pilgrims exited the church they were greeted by the parish volunteers who were serving cookies and water with lemon, to help deal with the summer heat that has been enveloping Lisbon. An image of St. Thérèse of Lisieux with the quote “I want to spend my Heaven doing good on Earth,” hung outside the church and moved slightly in the wind as the pilgrims walked out.


“She’s a saint who has a certain value in my family, especially the parents, Louis and Zélie Martin. I remember having a picture of them in the kitchen,” explained Alix Veron, a 23-year-old from Toulouse with religious medals and crosses hung around her neck, who was seeing the relics for the first time. “It was great to be able to pray to her and entrust to her my family.” 

“What I experienced in there was very personal to me, it was something that I was praying for today at Mass and even yesterday during adoration,” said Averell, a 24-year-old Indian pilgrim who came from Dubai, as she walked out of the parish. “It is exactly what I needed.”

Therese of LisieuxWorld Youth Day
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