Friday, 3 October 2008

The Basilica in Lisieux

This is the basilica built to welcome pilgrims to Lisieux. It was consecrated on 11th July 1954, built with money raised from a massive number of donations from the faithful. It is vast - its floor space and height are roughly equivalent to Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. It was one of the largest church building projects of the 20th century.

Inside, the basilica is richly decorated with mosaics. Above the altar there is an image of Christ, the Good Shepherd, seen with Our Lady and St Thérèse.

In the transept there is a shrine containing some relics of St Thérèse. It is continually surrounded by flowers and votive candles, as pilgrims ask her intercession.

Promises of help are seen in the mosaics: here we are reminded of St Thérèse's promise to help priests by her prayers.

Each of the side altars is linked to a different country and dedicated to saints from those lands. This altar, linked to Great Britain, is dedicated to St George and St Thomas à Becket.

The basilica is a fitting shrine to this wonderful saint, dominating the skyline just as Thérèse herself seems to dominate the town. Over the coming year the blog will bring news of the preparations for her visit to our country and our Diocese, along with more about the life of this extraordinary saint of modern times.