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Bishop John leads pilgrimage to Canterbury

Published: 7th October 2023

Pilgrims standing in a line outside Canterbury CathedralThis weekend, Bishop John and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, Bernard Longley are leading an ecumenical pilgrimage to Canterbury with a group from the two dioceses.  

This is the third jointly-run pilgrimage with many of the travellers having already visited the Holy Land and Rome together.

Friday 6 OctoberPilgrims sitting in a circle in candlelight listening to the Dean

After a long coach journey from Worcester (via Bromsgrove) to Canterbury, the pilgrims arrived in Canterbury mid-afternoon to check into rooms in the shadow of the Cathedral. They joined the Cathedral community for Evensong and then after dinner together were treated to a very special candlelit tour of the empty Cathedral.pilgrims walking through the Cathedral crypt in candlelight

Led by the Dean, the tour told the story of Thomas Becket, former Archbishop of Canterbury who was killed in the Cathedral in 1170, and how the Cathedral became a place of pilgrimage as a result. We also considered our own reasons for being on pilgrimage in a moving time of reflection and prayer.


Saturday 7 October

Pilgrims in the sunshine outside Canterbury CathedralOn day two of the diocesan ecumenical pilgrimage to Canterbury, we started with Morning Prayer at St Thomas RC Church, which features relics of St Thomas Becket.

We had a tour around the Franciscan gardens and heard about Eastbridge Hospital, which was providing hospitality for pilgrims soon after Thomas Becket's murder. We heard all about many of the plants and herbs grown in the garden for medicinal use.Pilgrims in the Franciscan gardens looking at a statue of St Francis

Prayer in the middle of the day was at St Dunstan's Church. St Dunstan was a former Bishop of Worcester and the church some beautiful stained glass windows commemorating St Thomas More, Lord High Chancellor of England who was convicted of treason when he opposed the Protestant reformation and was beheaded. The head of Thomas More buried in St Dunstan’s Church due to links with his daughter.Archbishop Bernard Longley preaching

After choral Evensong in the Cathedral we celebrated a RC Vigil Mass in the crypt led by Archbishop Bernard Longley. At dinner we were joined by the Bishop of Dover, Rose Hudson-Wilkin, who spoke about her own journey to Canterbury.


Sunday 8 October

Archbishop Bernard and Bishop John blessing the congregation at Canterbury cathedralThe final day of our ecumenical pilgrimage to Canterbury began with the group joining the Cathedral congregation for their harvest festival. Bishop John and Archbishop Bernard gave the final blessing together and we were able to gather for a group photo in front of the altar after the service.Pilgrimage group in Canterbury cathedral

From there we travelled to Lambeth Palace to meet Archbishop Justin and his wife Caroline, who were incredibly kind with their time and hospitality.

Pilgrimage group outside Lambeth PalaceAfter a cold drink we gathered in the chapel where Archbishop Justin spoke to us about the history of the room and also movingly about his visits over the past week to Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia and Rome where he was involved in conversations around peace and reconciliation. Together we prayed for peace in our world, particularly in the light of the current violence in Israel and Palestine.Archbishop Justin speaking to the pilgrimage group in the chapel at Lambeth Palace

We returned home to Worcester during the evening at the end of a wonderful weekend full of prayer, worship and friendship. It was a joy to be able to visit the historic sites of pilgrimage with a group of Anglicans and Roman Catholics.


There are lots more photos from the pilgrimage over on our Facebook page.

Page last updated: Monday 9th October 2023 10:49 AM

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