I had my tonsils out when I was 6 years old and developed an infection that reached  my imagination.  In my semi conscious state I saw  hairy red angels and leering  clowns dancing around my bed. I was in hospital for weeks  and my favorite aunt sat vigil by my bed reading aloud from a book about St Therese of Lisieux. Just  the one book – that’s all she had. She would finish it and then turn to page 1 and start all over again which is why I could recite that book – ‘The Little Flower’- word by word even now. I was definitely the world’s most ungrateful little wretch because my first words on regaining consciousness were to my faithful, exhausted aunt. I said  “Could you please be quiet? You are upsetting me.”

The relics of St Therese are currently on tour and last night I went to visit them in Westminster  Cathedral. I am one of millions of people all over the world who have filed past the casket, and it felt as though we were all in the same queue last night. It was heaving.

There was an elderly  lady wearing a headscarf, stooped and breathless, who was clearly finding standing in line hard work.  She kept making pained eye contact with me and grimacing,  to communicate how uncomfortable she was.  Busybody that I am, I muscled this woman through the crowds to the front of the queue and asked the steward to please let her in ahead of everyone else. This caused a fair bit of teeth sucking and tutting amongst the pilgrims, but she was allowed in.

There are large screens on the piazza of the Cathedral that show the pilgrims inside as they approach the casket, and everyone in the queue  witnessed a mini miracle last night. Twelve foot high and in full technicolour the very same lady who had struggled in line  straightened up, removed her scarf and fluffed her hair  and quickstepped her way to pay tribute to the Saint.

5 comments to Bless