THE relics of a popular saint are expected to draw thousands of visitors to Lancaster Cathedral next week.
The remains of St Thrse of Lisieux, one of the most popular modern saints, visit Lancaster as part of a national tour.
For 43 hours, the cathedral will be open day and night as pilgrims come to venerate the relics of the saint who is popularly known as the Little Flower.
Thrse was a Carmelite nun who lived in the small town of Lisieux, Normandy, in the late19th century. She achieved no fame or popularity during her lifetime and died at the age of 24.
Exactly a year after her death her writings, which consist mainly of the story of her life, were published, and such was the demand that millions of copies were soon in print.
Since 1997 – the centenary of her death – her relics have travelled the world, visiting more than 40 countries.
The relics are due to arrive at Lancaster Cathedral at 4pm on Monday, and will leave on Wednesday morning. The cathedral will be open throughout the visit and everyone is welcome.
Individual and family visitors may come at any time, day or night; no booking or tickets are required, but groups of 20 or more must inform the cathedral in advance.
During the visit to Lancaster, there will be several major liturgies, for which the cathedral is likely to be full. Much of the time, however, will simply provide people with the opportunity to visit and venerate the relics in silent prayer.
Canon Stephen Shield, who will take charge of the relics as Dean of Lancaster Cathedral, said: "The response is incredible. Vast numbers are coming to venerate the relics. I think Thrse would be astonished by it. Our church is a small one, one of the smallest cathedrals on the tour, but the intimacy will heighten the occasion, and I think St Thrse would like that."