The relics arrived at the Cathedral in Norwich at 11.30am on Thursday October 13 and there was a full programme of events, interspersed with periods when individuals and groups could see them.
At noon on Thursday Bishop Alan Hopes was joined by the Canons of the Cathedral for a Mass to mark the arrival of the relics. Students and teachers from Notre Dame High School and St Francis Primary School in Norwich, and Sacred Heart School in Swaffham, joined several hundred other worshippers at the celebration. Overall between 1500 and 2000 people visited the relics between the Thursday and Saturday when they were at the Cathedral.
“The visit of the Relics of St Bernadette brought a time of particular joy, peace and prayer to our community here at St John’s Cathedral for which we are very grateful,” said Fr Michael Smith. “People were able to connect with Bernadette through the nearness of her physical presence with us and we pray that the graces we have received from God during this time will bear fruit in our lives. We have much to thank God for.”
Religious orders from around the Diocese were represented, and there was a stall organised by Across, providers of the Jumbulance, which helps severely disabled people to get to Lourdes.
Provost Eugène Harkness from Our Lady of the Assumption and The English Martyrs said:
“The relics of Saint Bernadette have brought to our Diocese as a whole and to our parish in particular a sign of faith, hope and love. Faith, in that she was most privileged to have been given the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary and to have engaged with the Mother of God in intimate prayer and conversation. Her hope was deepened by the salutation and the courtesy that Our Lady showed her by bowing to Bernadette with great dignity. She, a poor, destitute and sickly girl was given the sign of her uniqueness as a creature and the wonderment of her being. It was to Bernadette that the dogma of faith was acclaimed when Mary announced her identity as ‘The Immaculate Conception.’ All humanity fashioned in the likeness of our one true God was to be restored by the divine love of God shown in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, his Son and it is a call to all people to acknowledge the profound love that God has for each of us and to respect it from the moment of conception.
“The message of Lourdes is also one of penance for the past and an awakening of that dignity to live the life that God intends for each of us. It is a profound moment of healing and I believe it is that message and reality that prompted over 2,000 people to prayerfully pass by the relics of this beloved Saint: to pray, to thank, to confess, to be restored. It has been a most momentous experience for so many and I believe it will continue to grant blessings on all those who have come.”
Bernadette, the humble daughter of a miller, was the theme of Bishop Alan’s homily. Bernadette, the saint who “teaches us that God uses the humble and the weak,” and that “God calls each one of us from our mother’s womb at the moment of our conception”. Our Lady revealed herself to Bernadette, Bishop Alan reminded us, “in a place where people came to collect firewood – a grubby place”, which was a sign that “God makes Himself known to us in unexpected situations”.
“May St Bernadette…the humble girl to whom Our Lady revealed herself as the Immaculate Conception, in a place hidden and unknown, pray for us on our pilgrimage through life,” concluded the Bishop.
The relics left for Cambridge after an early morning Mass on Saturday and stayed two days. The timetable and more information are below.
On Sunday October 9 Fr Michael Smith from the Cathedral gave an interview to Matthew Gudgin of BBC Radio Norfolk about the visit. Start listening from 1:45:40.
Louise Holland from BBC Radio Cambridge did an interview about the relics on the same day with Nigel Kerry, Director of Music at Our Lady and the English Martyrs. Start listening from 1:11:20.
You can view a Flickr gallery of the visit of the relics to the Cathedral by clicking on the link below.
You can view a Flickr gallery of the visit of the relics to Our Lady and the English Martyrs by clicking on the link below.