‘Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage’ (Ps 84:5, NIV).
The Pilgrim Staff has been passed to St Davids Cathedral for the launch of a special year of pilgrimage woven through its liturgical year and a programme of pilgrim events and resources for everyone.
Starting with an Angel Trail over the Christmas holidays, this year the cathedral will offer guided half-day pilgrimages, full days and longer, self-guided visits, there are special projects with local primary and secondary schools, a pilgrimage festival, a pilgrimage weekend, a two day symposium, an art exhibition exploring their patron saint, St David, a Pilgrimage in A Bag available in the shops – there’s even a pilgrimage with your dog in honour of St Caradog, patron saint of dogs.
For 2023 is a special year for the St Davids Diocese and St Davids Cathedral as it marks the 900th anniversary of Pope Callixtus’ privilege given in 1123 that two pilgrimages to St Davids are equal to one to Rome.
The Church in Wales’ Pilgrim Staff was first made for St Asaph Diocese’s Year of Pilgrimage in 2013 and has since been used by Monmouth and Llandaff Dioceses.
And to mark St Davids year, the Pilgrim Staff was brought into the cathedral in procession on Advent Sunday during the Carol Service, by pilgrimage officer Janet Ingram, and placed next to the Shrine of St David. During the year ahead it will be lent to churches, schools and other groups making pilgrimages to Tyddewi, or in their own locality.
The year of pilgrimage will also feature on the BBC with a live broadcast for St Davids Day and a special pilgrimage-themed Songs of Praise.
The Dean of St Davids, the Very Revd Sarah Rowland Jones, writing for the diocese on a lifetime of pilgrimage, said:
“Pilgrimage – journeying with spiritual intent to a sacred space – has a long history. Jesus travelled as child and adult to Jerusalem for Jewish festivals. Christian tradition soon embraced pilgrimage to holy places. Though forbidden at the Reformation, it has recently surged in popularity, and for good reason. It stirs us individually and together to grow in faith.
“Outer journeying (traditionally on foot but actually by any means and including those with mobility challenges) stimulates inner journeying of the spirit, and helps mental and physical health. It seems Covid has only increased our desire for greater connectedness with ourselves, our creation and Creator.”
“We’ll be sharing the celebrations with other Christians, wider Wales and the world – in Dewi’s day, Christian division wasn’t known. And we’ll put the spotlight on Dewi so he and his final teaching, ‘be joyful, keep the faith and do the little things …’, can increasingly be a moral compass for our nation,’ she added.
You can read her piece in full here.
For help with planning a pilgrimage, or to arrange to borrow the Pilgrim Staff email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is plenty of information and ideas about how to plan your own pilgrimage, or join in guided half-days, full days and longer, self-guided visits, ‘A Pilgrimage in a Bag’ and more besides on the Cathedral’s website – just click here.
More about Pilgrimage and Pilgrimage routes can be found here.