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Showing posts from June, 2023

St Winefride and her well

I promised that I would tell you how I got on to this pilgrimage business in the first place. The hook was a chance encounter with a seventh-century saint named Winefride; the hook turned out to be connected to a line, which was a pilgrimage route from Shrewsbury to Holywell; and once I pulled on that line, it just kept unspooling into a whole fishing net's worth of new discoveries. Icon of St Winefride in Shrewsbury Abbey St Winefride was the unlikely subject of a Bible study at my homegroup. Niece of the Welsh saint Beuno, she was determined to be a nun. However, a man named Caradog was equally determined that she should become his wife. When she refused, he cut off her head with his sword. Fortunately St Beuno had heard Winefride's cries, and, arriving at the scene, placed her head back onto her body, and restored her to life. Caradog met an untimely end, Winefride was able to pursue her calling into a nunnery, and at the place where her head fell, there arose a spring of w


Pilgrimage means following in the footsteps of somebody or something we honor to pay homage. It revitalizes our lives, reinvigorates our very souls. The Art of Pilgrimage by Phil Cousineau   Recently I've been thinking about the idea of pilgrimage. But defining a pilgrimage is a slippery task. Is it a specific route to a specific place? Or does it refer more to the state of mind in which you undertake a journey? Do you have to wear sandals and a floppy hat, carrying a staff and a scallop shell as symbols of your pilgrim status? Do you have to believe in a god, or saints, or leylines? As you might guess, there are no very definitive answers to all these questions. But there are some general principles which cluster around the idea of pilgrimage. Somewhere in the overlapping layers of Place, Purpose, People and Presence is the elusive key which turns a long walk into a sacred journey. Place Here, I said: here where you stand / And stop, and let everything go still... The Sacred Way