June 18, 2022

An Event of the Century

Sister M. Annjetta Hirscher

“This is an event of the century.
I’ll definitely be there,”

Getrud T. enthusiastically responded on the phone, referring to the visit of St. Therese of Lisieux in the reliquary. Gertrud signed up for dinner with her husband on the day of the welcome (June 10) so that after the welcome and a time of prayer, she could be at this “event of the century” for as long as possible. Her joyful anticipation was perceptible on the phone.

The great event is heralded

At 4:00 pm the bells of the shrine announced a special event. The suspense increased, and the visitors who had gathered at the plaza of the shrine looked expectantly at the small procession nearing the shrine of grace. Some men were carrying the reliquary of little St. Therese, which has beautiful filigree decorations with roses. Children processed before the reliquary. One was spontaneously reminded of the saint‘s religious name Sister Therese of the Child Jesus. Being a child of God was for her the way to holiness. The sound of the chapel bell faded as the reliquary was placed in the middle of the plaza. It was totally silent.  All of the visitors looked toward the center of the plaza.

It “crackles”

“Dear little Saint Therese, we welcome you warmly to the Liebfrauenhöhe (Germany).” With these words the little saint was welcomed by our Schoenstattt Sisters of Mary. “You preceded us on the path of being a child before God. You modeled for us the way of great filial trust and love for God. We ask you to take us along this path of holiness.” 

During the warm words of welcome for Therese of Lisieux, it literally “crackled” on the plaza of the chapel. The atmosphere was so dense and marked by such deep faith that one thing was totally certain: The saint was visiting us in this reliquary. And where there are saints, there is heaven. This is easy to experience and hard to put into words. Whoever is open to it can meet her.

Whoever can be as small as this child…

“Whoever does not accept the kingdom of God as a child will lose it,” resounded repeatedly over the Liebfrauenhöhe. Experiences from the life of the saint, poems, and quotations from her life introduced the “little way of holiness” that Therese of Lisieux described this way: “My way is all trust and love.

Before the little St. Therese died, she said that she would continue her mission from heaven, said Father Joseph Kentenich, the founder of the Schoenstatt Movement. He stated: “She was (probably) the first who (clearly) said that our mission on earth will also be our mission from heaven. She said, When I die, I will send a shower roses upon the whole world‘. And so she continues to be effective from heaven today.”  

A shower of roses

Trusting in the effectiveness of the saint, the guests sang ever more strongly:

“Little St. Therese, I ask you, send a shower of roses.” In this way they expressed their trust that the saint would give them graces, gifts from God. When the children threw rose petals at the reliquary, there was a little shower of roses. “It was so lovely when the children threw the rose petals,” expressed Sister Bernadett-Maria, a Reutener Franciscan, who stayed at the Liebfrauenhoehe for two days  so she could spend much time in an encounter with St. Therese.

Are we ready?

“Therese is ready. Are we ready, also?” Thus ended the welcome in front of the Schoenstatt shrine. With roses in their hands, all of the guests followed the reliquary singing and praying as it was carried into the Crown Church. Accompanied solemnly by organ, everyone entered the church. It was planned that the guests would go to the pews and at the conclusion of the prayer time they would bring their roses to the reliquary. But the joy and enthusiasm, the love for the little St. Theresa could not be contained. The visitors streamed directly to the reliquary and placed their roses in front of it. “Holy God, we praise thy name” sang the guests with all their heart, thanking God for this saint who helps us walk the path of faith with little steps in concrete everyday life.