The parish was buzzing this morning with excited news of yesterday's gathering for the veneration of the relics of St Thérèse. I'll ask the Knights of St Columba if they have a final estimated number for those attending but it does seem to be well over the 10,000 expected. Here, in the crowds, you can see Fr John Boyle giving Holy Communion at the Mass celebrated by Archbishop McDonald. Fr Boyle has pictures, videos and links at his blog Caritas in Veritate.
The Union of Catholic Mothers from my parish left early to take their turn in the guard of honour and a coachload of parishioners left before 10am for the (normally) 40 minute drive to be there in time for Mass at 11.30am. In the event, they had to walk the last mile from Eccles since the traffic was backed up all the way to the M20.
I sent down a small mobile special forces unit with the mission to capture the relics and bring them back to Blackfen:
Unfortunately, the Knights of St Columba were there in considerable strength and the mission had to be abandoned in favour of the fallback plan to get in at the front by helping as servers at the Mass. At least they did get to lead the seminarians in the procession:
I must add, in all seriousness, that the parents of the children who went were most impressed and appreciative of the way that the seminarians looked after the children at Mass and escorted them through the crowds safely back to their parents afterwards.
Some other parishioners wisely went down late at night when the shrine was less crowded. The relics were exposed for veneration all night.
Here is the casket in the relic chapel which also contains the relics of St Simon Stock, to whom Our Blessed Lady gave the brown scapular:
The whole day was a magnificent expression of faith and devotion, inspired by the "Little Flower" who captured the hearts of soldiers in the trenches during the first World War and continues to inspire us today.