The much-anticipated St Albans pilgrimage is going online this weekend with a specially streamed service from the shrine of Britain’s first saint and a worldwide cast.
And Chichester invites visitors to take a virtual sacred journey to the much-loved shrine of St Richard.
St Albans Cathedral reimagines the Alban Pilgrimage and Chichester Cathedral launches new sacred digital journey online as we begin the slow journey out of lockdown
The celebrations of Alban, usually attract thousands of people who parade through the streets of St Albans recreating thi story of Britain’s first saint with giant puppets. ….
But this year – as we start to slowly emerge from the pandemic – the St Alban weekend has been reimagined with pilgrim trails, online art activities, a poetry afternoon, a 13.1 challenge to replace the city’s usual half marathon, and a special Eucharist streamed on YouTube featuring the Bishop of St Alban and the Revd Richard Coles for whom St Alban brought him to faith.
“St Alban was my point of entry to faith, in the church dedicated to him at Holborn in London, so I am delighted and honoured to be asked to preach his pilgrimage in the place, digitally reconfigured, where he laid down his life, so the good news could bring new life to all who heard it”.
The service will be led by the Bishop of St Albans and will feature readings from the MP for St Albans, Daisy Cooper, and contributions from other churches throughout the world.
St Alban’s Cathedral is also working in partnership with the local authority to mark this ‘Alban weekend’, including a video with a demonstration of how to make and display red roses, symbolising Alban’s martyrdom, and self-guided pilgrim walks and trails available on the Cathedral website.
The famous 12ft puppets from the yearly processions will be displayed, along with a special exhibition that’s been created by The Friends of St Albans Cathedral during lockdown.
Canon Chancellor, The Revd Dr Kevin Walton, said
“Whilst we cannot hold our wonderful Alban Pilgrimage in the usual way this year; through live streaming our service and other activities, we will be able to reach out more widely across the country and indeed the world, to celebrate the significance of St Alban. We hope all people, near and far, will join in this celebration of our city’s patron, and of Britain’s First Saint.”
Councillor Mandy McNeil, Portfolio Holder for Business, Tourism and Culture for St Albans City and District Council, said: “The annual St Albans Pilgrimage is one of our District’s most important events, with people travelling from around the world to remember and honour Britain’s First Saint.
“It is thanks to the Cathedral’s inspired reimagining of the Pilgrimage online, in the face of social distancing, which led to St Albans BID proposal of a virtual St Albans Street Festival, so residents and virtual visitors from around the world can still join in the celebrations”.
For the full programme visit the St Albans Cathedral Website here.
The Alban Pilgrimage Eucharist will be live streamed on YouTube at 10am. The St Albans YouTube channel can be found here.
Chichester Cathedral chose St Richard’s Day and Sussex Day on Tuesday to invite people to take a virtual sacred journey.
This new virtual pilgrimage traces a path from the Cathedral’s West Door to the historic Shrine of St Richard. Richard was a bishop of Chichester in the 13th century whose relics lie behind the high altar.
The Shrine of St Richard is considered by some to be the third most important in the land, after the shrines of St Thomas à Becket at Canterbury and Our Lady at Walsingham. Over the centuries, it has drawn many visitors to both the city and the Cathedral and today many thousands come to the Shrine during the year to pray, light candles, and reflect upon their own lives.
The pilgrimage offers an opportunity to discover more about the well-trodden route and the history of the many chapels, objects and art along the way – and the Cathedral hopes the pilgrimage will be a source of comfort and hope to many as we all begin the long journey out of lockdown safely.
Find out more about 2020 Year of Pilgrimage here.