Year of Pilgrimage launched in style

The Year of Pilgrimage got off to a successful start as hundreds of pilgrims packed into St Asaph Cathedral for the launch service on Sunday 5 May.

The Pilgrim’s Staff arrived on the back of a carriage drawn by four horses. You can see it beginning its journey from Llandegla in our video.

The Staff was first handed to Bishop Gregory in Knighton after it was carried from St Woolos’ Cathedral in Newport to mid-Wales by the Diocese of Monmouth who declared 2012 their Year of Pilgrimage. Bishop Dominic handed the Staff to Bishop Gregory and it made its way through all three Archdeaconries of our Diocese to get to the service at the Cathedral.

The service started with a hymn at the Translator’s Memorial before Archdeacon Shirley presented the Pilgrim’s Staff to the Dean and a pilgrimage made its way around the Cathedral via the font, the pulpit, the organ and the altar.

Pilgrim’s then took their seats to hear readings from Genesis and Psalm 121 as well as the RS Thomas poem “Tidal”.

At the end of the service Bishop Gregory addressed the congregation saying:

“To be a pilgrim people we must journey out to proclaim the Kingdom of God to the world and to be agents of God’s love.

“When I was picking up the Pilgrim’s Staff from Bishop Dominic yesterday I reflected with the congregation in Knighton that so often the Church is very good at coming in – particularly at coming in to Church – but that must always be accompanied by the going out.

“Perhaps if the Church went out a little more on the adventure of faith, to be a witness of God’s love, in the service of the Kingdom and of the world then others would see the joy and journey with us. That is why I welcome the Year of Pilgrimage.”

After the service, Archdeacon Chris Potter took the Staff to Bardsey Island as he and the other walkers journeyed along the North Wales Pilgrim’s Way.

Archdeacon Chris and Archdeacon Shirley with the Pilgrim's Staff
Archdeacon Chris and Archdeacon Shirley with the Pilgrim’s Staff

Commenting on the creation of the staff, Chris said:

“I think it’s a lovely staff, traditionally made out of holly and it’s a really sturdy stick to carry me across north Wales and several other people much further than that.

“We are hoping that it will go all across Wales in the coming months especially through our Year of Pilgrimage and we hope it will get around as many parishes as possible so that they can all enjoy it as well.”

If you would like the Pilgrim’s Staff to come to your parish during the Year of Pilgrimage, please contact us by email.