Relics of Saint Bernadette of Lourdes visit Portsmouth during England, Scotland and Wales tour

St Bernadette was born in 1844 in a small town in France. Credit: The Portsmouth Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust

The relics of Saint Bernadette of Lourdes are to go on display in Portsmouth.

They will arrive at St John's Cathedral in the city at 9.30am on Thursday, September 8, and will be on display until 10am on Friday, September 9.

It is part of the Saint Bernadette Relic Tour which is taking place throughout September and October.

The relics are travelling from France to England, Scotland and Wales for the very first time.

The relics of Saint Bernadette in Lourdes, France. Credit: The Portsmouth Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust

The tour has been described as a "once in a lifetime opportunity".

The relics travelled across the Channel from Calais to Folkestone in Kent, arriving at St Thomas of Canterbury in Fulham, London on September 2.

They then travelled to Westminster Cathedral, also visiting Hayes, Twickenham, Shepperton in Surrey and Aldershot in Hampshire before reaching Portsmouth.

The Covid-19 pandemic made it difficult, if not possible, for people to travel nationally and internationally reducing the number of individuals and groups able to journey on pilgrimage to Lourdes.

St John's Cathedral in Portsmouth will host the relics on Thursday and Friday. Credit: The Portsmouth Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust

Bishop Philip Egan of the Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth said: "We're delighted that the blessed relics of Saint Bernadette of Lourdes will be hosted at our very own St John's Cathedral, Portsmouth enabling thousands of local people from across our Diocese to experience the special gifts and pleasures of Lourdes that this amazing opportunity brings.

"We have a full programme planned to cover the 24 hours from when the relics arrive on Thursday 8th September at 0930, until they leave us at 10am on the 9th September to include a mass for the anointing of the sick, vespers and a torchlight procession in the presence of local dignitaries, the rosary and veneration and an all-night vigil. All are welcome."

The relics will go on to the Dioceses of Plymouth, Clifton, Menevia, Cardiff, Shrewsbury, Wrexham, Liverpool, Salford, Catholic Syro-Malabar Eparchy, Lancaster, Carfin Grotto, Scotland, Hexham and Newcastle, Wrexham and Leeds, Hallam, Middlesborough, Nottingham, Birmingham, Northampton, East Anglia, Brentwood, Arundel & Brighton, Southwark and returning to Westminster where they will visit Wormwood Scrubs and the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of the Holy Family of London.

They will return to France on November 1.