Thursday, 8 April 2010

April 2010: A month of pilgrimages.

This month of April is Pilgrimage month for our Parish. Almost fifty pilgrims will leave Sevenoaks tomorrow for a week end pilgrimage in the ancient and venerable shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in Norfolk. Mrs Janice Williams, leader of the Parish Walsingham Cell is organising the week end. We are hoping to be able to update this blog. It is also my firm intention to pray for all you who visit this site as we do our intercessions on Saturday.
A few days after, the Parish will be engaged in another pilgrimage which will see parishioners walking from here to Canterbury, to the shrine of St Thomas Becket. On the way, pilgrims will stop at another venerable shrine at Aylesford, where in the 13th century Our Lady appeared to St Simon Stock and gave him the Brown Scapular. Churchwarden Mr David Bonner is organising this exciting pilgrimage. If you would like to be a Patron of this Pilgrimage please do get in touch at Mr Bonner writes:

Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote…
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages…
And specially from every shires ende
Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende,
The holy blissful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.

More than six hundred years after Chaucer wrote those lines a party of pilgrims from St John the Baptist, Sevenoaks will be setting out on 20 April to walk the 65 miles to Canterbury, following reverently in the footsteps of the generations of pilgrims who have trod that path since the martyrdom of St Thomas Becket in 1170. Like Chaucer’s pilgrims, they are aiming to combine serious spiritual intent with good companionship and the enjoyment of the Kentish countryside in the spring. In addition, through sponsorship they plan to raise the final £1000 needed to buy a much needed set of new robes for our serving team.
The response from the congregation has been excellent. Half a dozen or so will be walking the full route, enjoying the hospitality of Aylesford Priory and of village inns along the way, and another thirty or more will be joining them at Chilham or Chartham on Saturday 24 April to walk the final few miles into Canterbury, to lunch at the Thomas Becket pub (where else!) and to attend evensong in the Cathedral. Others, who for one reason or another are unable to join the walk, have agreed to act as patrons of the walk and we are confident that we will be able to meet our financial target or even exceed it.
St John’s can claim a connection with the medieval pilgrimage to Canterbury. The medieval Chapel and Hospital of St John the Baptist from which the church takes it name lay about half a mile away from the site of the present church and in all likelihood would have provided rest and refreshment for pilgrims on their way to Canterbury. The Pilgrims’ Way itself passes through Otford, which lies a further mile and a half to the north.

1 comment:

Antient Scholar said...

Father, blessings for your parish pilgrimage to SOLW. In view of the tragic news today about the loss of so many members of the Polish government in the plane crash in Russia perhaps you could offer special intercessions for the people of Poland in front of the Icon of the Black Madonna in the Shrine Church in Walsingham?