The Mount Carmel Monastery, located just west of La Plata, will be the first stop this week when the relics of Saint Therese of Lisieux arrive in the United States on a tour that will take them to more than 120 sites around the nation over the next four months.
Saint Therese, know to Catholics and others around the world as "the Little Flower," first became widely known through her memoir, "Story of a Soul," published in 1898, a year after her death from tuberculosis at the age of 24.
Her relics have been touring the world to mark the centennial of her death. Contained in an ornate reliquary of jacaranda wood and silver, the relics include bones, clothing and possessions of Saint Therese.
After landing at JFK International Airport in New York, the reliquary will be driven directly to La Plata, chosen because it is the site of the first monastery of nuns in America.
The monastery has scheduled a Holy Hour from 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, with reflections offered by the Rev. Donald Kinney, coordinator of the visit. On Wednesday morning at 8:30, Kinney will celebrate Mass, with another scheduled at noon to be conducted by Bishop Leonard J. Olivier of Waldorf and the Archdiocese of Washington.
The monastery is at 5678 Mount Carmel Rd., off Mitchell Road across from the Charles County Community College campus.
Born in Alencon, France, in 1873 to religious parents, Therese entered the Carmelite convent at Lisieux at age 15. Within two years of her death, reports of her prayers being answered and of her ability to heal people began to circulate, and her convent took up her cause for beatification with Catholic authorities in Rome.
She was declared a saint by Pope Pius XI in 1925, one of the swiftest canonizations in church history.
From La Plata, Saint Therese's relics will go to the Carmelite Monastery and National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, with stops in Baltimore on Friday and Saturday.