Thursday, September 24

1939: The Little Flower

At the time of writing in 2009 the Cathedral is preparing to welcome the relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux, the saint who has become known as 'the Little Flower'. Seventy years earlier Fr Vernon Johnson was at the Cathedral delivering a course of sermons on St Thérèse, as the flyer shows and as the notice book for 24th September 1939 confirms. Even the best laid plans sometimes go wrong, however, and the notice book reveals that the time of the sermons had to be altered. The flyer here shows that the plan was to have Benediction and sermon on weekdays at 7:30pm; the notice book advertises the event at 6:45pm. The reason? The outbreak of war meant night-time blackouts, so all public gatherings had to take place before dark. The notice book also shows that other activities were affected: "Owing to the war and difficulties of blackout, we think it better in the interests of your own safety not to have any social activities at present. So the Christmas draw and reunion will be suspended this year." Despite the disruption, it seems that Fr Vernon was able to deliver all his sermons; he also preached on 8th October at Mass and Benediction, for the 80th celebration of the dedication of the church.