CATHOLIC and Protestant churches will be open throughout tonight in the centre of York to welcome thousands of pilgrims flocking to see the remains of a saint.

York Minster was today expected to be the focal point as the sacred Catholic relics make their only stay at a Protestant venue during a national five-week tour.

The bones of St Therese of Lisieux were to arrive at the Minster at 6pm today – her Saints Day, according to the catholic calendar – and to stay there until noon tomorrow.

The arrival marked the start of 18 hours of services and prayers, during which the Minster will remain open without entry charges, to give the maximum opportunity for faithful of all religions to see the casket. Nearby St Wilfrid’s RC Church, in Duncombe Place, will also be open throughout the visit for a rota of priests to talk to pilgrims and hear confessions. The visit marks efforts in the 1920s to bring Anglicans and Catholics closer together, in which York Minster played a part and included an ecumenical service shortly after the relics’ arrival.

Tomorrow the casket containing the remains of the Carmelite nun, who became a doctor of the church and died aged 24, moves on to the cathedral of the Catholic diocese which includes York – St Mary’s in Middlesbrough. The Very Rev Canon Michael Ryan of St Wilfrid’s Church said: “Her visit to York Minster is a great gift to the whole Church in Yorkshire, and I pray Christians of all traditions will come together here to celebrate her life and learn from her teaching.”

On Saturday, Thicket Carmelite Priory, Thorganby, near Wheldrake, will mark the visit with a day-long event called “A day in the company of St Therese”.