HUNDREDS of people have visited a small parish church to pay their respects to one of the most important relics in the Catholic Church.
Miraculous Relic Image of Our Lady of Guadelupe was on display at St Patrick’s Church, Manor Road, Hayling Island yesterday afternoon.
It is believed that in 1531 an image of the Virgin Mary was imprinted on Juan Diego’s tilma – a rough piece of clothing made of woven fibres that are extracted from the Mexican agave plant.
Copies that have been touched by the relic are in churches around the world and tour parishes.
Andrew Hinde, the national co-ordinator of the guardians of the shrine, said: ‘A lot of people have come along to spend time here.
‘It is a small church and a smaller area than we would usually come to but we had a request from the Hope Foundation that provides counselling to disadvantaged people.
‘They asked us to bring it here so they could bring their people and also for the parish.
‘You do not have to be Catholic to visit. There have been a lot of people here who are not Catholic.
‘A lot of people come with concerns and worries about their daily lives, particularly about their families and problems with their own environment.
‘The miraculous image gives people the chance to refocus and open their hearts in prayer. If you look at people’s faces here, they are looking for things.
‘They want to experience something more than this life.’
Mary Law and her husband Norman, 86, said they were thrilled when they discovered the relic would be visiting Hayling.
The couple made a pilgrimage to the original shrine, in Guadelupe, eight years ago.
Mrs Law, 76, said: ‘A wave of heat seemed to shoot out of it and envelope me.
‘It was a wonderful, uplifting feeling. It was quite an experience.
‘When I put my hand on the glass at St Patrick’s I got the same kind of feeling to a lesser degree. It was a warm tingling sensation through my hand and arm.’