Thousands of visitors are expected in Edinburgh this weekend for the visit of the relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux.

The relics of the French Carmelite nun are touring Scotland in what is believed to be the biggest religious event in the country since the visit of Pope Benedict in 2012.

Around 20,000 people were estimated to have attended events in the Diocese of Motherwell last weekend, celebrating the saint known affectionately as ‘The Little Flower’.

Archbishop Leo Cushley will welcome the relics to St Mary’s Catholic Cathedral in Broughton Place on Saturday evening at 7:30pm.

He said: “We’ve been awaiting the relics of the Little Flower with great anticipation.

“From the Carmelite sisters in Dysart, Fife, to people from parishes all over the archdiocese, there is much affection here for this extraordinary woman who, in so short a life, became a profound inspiration to many as well as a doctor of the church.

“We hope and pray for many blessings from the visit of her relics.”

Marie-Françoise-Thérèse Martin was born in Normandy, in 1873.  She entered the Carmelite convent of Lisieux aged just 15 after petitioning both Pope Leo XIII and her own bishop.

She became known for her ‘Little Way’, emphasising simple obedience to everyday duties without complaining or criticising, and in doing everything as well as we possibly can.

She said that these acts of obedience, often involving sacrifice, are to be offered to God out of love to please him.

Thérèse believed special penances and heroic deeds are not necessary. What counts is to let ourselves be found by God and shaped by his totally gratuitous love for us.

Many cures are attributed to her and are documented in the Lisieux Carmel’s online archives.

The relics will remain in the cathedral until Monday and people are invited to file past the casket containing the bones of the saint. They may reverently touch the casket and bring to God, through the intercession of St Thérèse, whatever intentions they have.

Fr James Grant, General Secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland who has coordinated the visit said: “People today are fascinated by the idea of pilgrimage, of travelling to a holy place or site associated with a holy person.

“This once in a lifetime visit of the relics of Saint Therese to Scotland is a pilgrimage in reverse, where a holy person comes to us. We can expect many graces from this visit including healing, conversion and discovery of true vocation to God.”