And appears to have calmed down now...
'Another miracle! Having now visited the casket containing pieces of her foot and thigh bone, all my doubts about the supernatural powers of St Thérèse of Lisieux have fled.
You may remember that some weeks ago, as a lapsed militant atheist, I experienced a miraculous reconversion to my dastardly faith after contemplating the arrival at Portsmouth (for a tour of Britain) of a casket containing some of the relics of St Thérèse. Well, yesterday the 19th-century French saint sent me another sign. It happened like this...
I had decided to visit the bones yesterday at Westminster Cathedral: a vast, gloomy, late 19th-century, brick-built cavern combining memories of Byzantium with aspects of a biscuit factory. Hoping to avoid the queues I emerged from the Tube around 7.45am. Whereupon something strange happened. An inner voice told me to wait; take a coffee; read the papers for a bit. I read The Times carefully, noting an infelicity in our poll questioning on Afghanistan (of which more later) — until, at 8.25, the Voice told me to go to the cathedral. I went.
Already there was a near-carnival atmosphere surrounding the bones. A temporary fish-and-chips stall had sprung up beside a smoothies-and-coffee tent. In front of the cathedral was a huge array of steel-barriered paddocks for pilgrims queueing for the relics. A kind pilgrim stopped me going down the eastern flank of the cathedral: “She’s gone the other way.” So I crossed to the western flank and, following other pilgrims, made my way into the cathedral, joining a long queue. Something like a shopfront faced me: Candles £1 — Roses £1. I bought a red rose. I passed a first-aid alcove for those seeking medical help from St Thérèse, and huge banks of burning candles. A notice declared “Lighting a candle is a prayer”, which is not the case...'
Click here for his full account. It is less scathing, still a little chiding and disrespectful, but more playful. More than anything its more Protestant than atheistic in content. Outside the Cathedral he saw one Tony Blair, who apparently looked a little embarrassed that he had been spotted by a journalist at the veneration. I shall bite my lip and not say anything derogatory about our beloved former PM and soon to be Supreme Ruler of the European Nations...for once. May the Little Flower intercede for both of them and thus shower graces and blessings down upon them!
Meanwhile, the BBC cover the Relics quite respectfully, but get an Anglican vicar in to denounce Relics as idolatry because the veneration of Relics and apparently even the Mass itself covers up Our Lord Jesus Christ. What with all the guitar Masses in Catholic Churches nowadays you have to sympathise with his position on that one.
Still, nice one BBC. "Westminster has the Relics of a great Saint! Let's get a quote from the Protestant vicar!"