Monday, 13 December 2010

An outing to London.

Off to London last saturday to speak to the Confraternity of Pilgrims to
Rome. I really nice bunch of people. They all seemed to have walked
considerable distances, except the cyclists who had ridden even further.
The meeting was held in St James Church rooms at the side of the campus.
I think that I was disappointed with the church, which I had a little while
to look around before I was on. There was nothing about St James.
and nothing about modern day pilgrimage to Santiago.
I gave my talk about the Portsmouth Pilgrimage as part of a major
route to the tomb of St James. They were receptive, but it became
clear that they were rather daunted by the idea of a full blown Santiago
pilgrimage in the UK.
So much has been lost over these last 6oo years.
That is longer than the Moorish occupation of Spain! It is indeed a
long way to reach backwards. To the days before the reformers,
who had little understanding in these matters, who condemned
Pilgrimage as idolatry.
On the other hand here we were in a Church dedicated to
St James. Yes, it is a Wren church, but it takes it's name from the
locality and that comes from the ancient palace of St James,
the official royal address of our Sovereign Lady. All ambasadors
present their letters of authority to the court of St James. I
think we can go a little further. England is the only
place that had, and some say still has, a piece of St James, the
relic of his hand given to Reading Abbey by Henry I. This is
some believe the same hand that is in Marlow Roman Catholic
Church today. No other country has such presence of St James
as we have.
So looking back over the centuries, what must the devotion have
been like in those days. We have much to recover.

1 comment:

  1. Ian,
    I did enjoy your presentation at St James'. Your new documented route through the midlands to Portsmouth will be the opening of yet another UK starting point to a major place of pilgrimage, just as Canterbury is 'kilometre zero' for the Via Francigena. I wish you well in your endeavours and, though you are correct in thinking that many people will be daunted by such long walking (or cycling) pilgrimages, a door has to be opened in the collective consciouness to encourage a few outward-bound individuals to make a start. That trickle will will become a stream, then a river......and before long we'll see the story-telling, sociable groups of Chaucer's day taking to the byways.
    I am the epitome of the cycling pilgrim, who completed the Camino in 1993 (it's first Holy Year) and the Via Francigena last September ( I applaud the work you are doing.
    Frank burns