A Season of Pilgrimage

Introducing a ‘Season of Pilgrimage’

St Chad’s Day 2nd March 2022 marks 1,350 years since the saint’s death in 672. To prepare for this event Bishop Michael is launching a ‘Season of Pilgrimage’, in which the people of Lichfield Diocese, together with our ecumenical partners and all with an interest in spiritual journeying, are invited to join with in several different ways.

The Two Kingdoms Way

The centre piece of the ‘Season of Pilgrimage’ will be the initiation of a new pilgrim route from Lindisfarne to Lichfield, marking the missionary journey of St Chad from Holy Island in Northumbria to Lichfield Cathedral in Mercia. Small groups will walk this route between summer 2021 and March 2022 in a staged relay. The pilgrimage will begin on Lindisfarne following the unveiling of the new statue of St Chad at the Cathedral in June and will end at Lichfield Cathedral on St Chad’s Day 2022. See more of the start of the route here.

Lichfield Cathedral has commissioned local sculptor and its Artist-in-Residence, Peter Walker, to create a major new public sculpture of St Chad

Two focal events

As well as a celebration in March 2022 to mark the 1,350th anniversary of St Chad and the story of his mission to Mercia, in June 2021 a new statue of the saint will be unveiled with a new ‘hope garden’ in the Cathedral grounds. These two events will also become focuses of Pilgrimage throughout 2021 and into 2022. You can find out more about the statue and the cathedral's plans here.

Many Pilgrimages

As part of the ‘Season of Pilgrimage’ we are encouraging local church groups to walk parts of the several pilgrimage routes that lead to Lichfield crossing different parts of the diocese. A special focus of these local pilgrimages is invited arriving at Lichfield Cathedral to join the two focal events in June 2021 and March 2022. However, these can be done at any time, and could be done locally earlier in the year in line with staged relaxations of Covid restrictions. Churches may also want to organise pilgrimages locally, for example within their deaneries as part of praying for the ‘Shaping for Mission’ process.

Virtual Pilgrimage and online resources

The idea of ‘virtual pilgrimage’ sounds like something developed in the age of the internet, and certainly in a time of lockdown or restriction internet-based spiritual journeys can be an imaginative way of accessing the pilgrimage experience. However, there have always been those unable to travel the pilgrim routes because of health or because they were part of religious orders whose vows did not permit them to travel. For centuries pictures and relics enabled virtual pilgrimages to be done in heart and mind if not on the road. To accompany Lichfield’s ‘Season of Pilgrimage’ we will be producing resources to enable those who cannot physically join a pilgrim group to join them in virtual pilgrimage. These will involve maps and images and ideas to use as well as a video diary of the Two Kingdoms Way as it is travelled for the first time so those at home can join in with the pilgrims on route. In addition to this we will also be producing resources to enable church groups and individuals to undertake their own pilgrimages across the diocese.

A message from Bishop Michael

A season of pilgrimage, on whatever scale and in whatever register of reality, is a timely opportunity for us as our churches and communities prepare to open up physically and to reach out again. Pilgrimage links us up with one another, reminds us of those who have gone before us, and points us to the future hope to which our God invites us. Whether we travel physically or in other ways, as we follow Christ in the footsteps of St Chad I hope that this can be our prayer:

You call us, Lord,
to leave familiar things and to leave our places of security.
May we open our eyes to new experiences,
may we open our ears to hear you speaking to us
and may we open our hearts to your love.
Grant that our time spent on pilgrimage
may help us to see ourselves as we really are
and may we strive to become the people you would have us be. Amen

Page last updated: 8th July 2021 9:17 AM