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He’s particularly disturbed by the physicality of the devotion, by the “lips, beads, figurines and toys” that seem to feature. But Christianity is an embodied religion. It’s not just about abstract spiritual truths. Christians believe that God entered time. His blood dripped on to a field outside Jerusalem; his grave clothes were rolled up in a tomb after his resurrection.Teresa_di_Lisieux_4

The St Thérèse relics are no jujus – they provide real inspiration

The pilgrims following her tour are participating in an important part of Catholic belief, says Stephen Wang

Simon Jenkins is vexed by the sight of thousands of people visiting the relics of Saint Thérèse as they tour the country (Let the credulous kiss their relics. It’s no weirder than idolising Beckham, 18 September).

Jenkins finds it “distasteful”, and puts the whole irrationality of Catholic belief on a par with elephant worship and shamanism. He chooses to adopt an attitude of “courtesy” to the pilgrims, but shows very little curiosity about their real motivations. He assumes they go “to press their lips and possessions desperately against the Perspex and come away feeling better”.

As a member of the organising committee for the visit, I came to appreciate the deeper reasons that draw people to these relics. They come to pray; to find inspiration in the life of an extraordinary woman; to deepen their sense of community and belonging; to connect with a person they love. This is no stranger than visiting the grave of a relative or an exhibition about the life of someone important to you. (altro…)

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