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|In the pilgrims' own words on their website: "Welcome to Pilgrims Live! Although perhaps half-dead more accurately describes how some of us will feel after a long day's trek!"|
Each year the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton organises an ecumenical walking pilgrimage to a place, a shrine or an area exploring a particular theme or aspect of faith and Christian heritage.
This year the pilgrims walked from Dover, where St Richard died in 1253, after being taken ill on a preaching journey. The journey ended at Chichester where he was the bishop. The Saint's tomb is in the Cathedral.
|They visited Arundel on 20th, attended Mass in the cathedral, and slept in the hall nearby.|
On Thursday they headed for Bognor, visiting Slindon's splendid flint faced church - St Richard's. Their itinerary included eight St Richard's churches.
A quote "We are fervent in our prayers - deepening our spiritual awareness - then into the pub and RELAX in good company!" They later stopped at the Maypole Pub Yapton. Here the contrasting styles of relaxation and reinvigoration were demonstrated -
The walkers came from Scotland, Cumbria, Teesside, Wiltshire, Warwickshire, the home counties, Germany and Australia.
|The destination lay another day's walk away - in perfect weather|
Ahead of the walkers the support team, headed by Fr David, unloaded a hundred items - bed rolls, luggage hymn books and cooking utensils in St Richard's school hall.
|The final leg of the Pilgrimage saw them arrive at Chichester Cathedral by the Canon's gate, guitars playing, and in full voice as they turned towards the Spire. They were welcomed to the Cathedral and prayed at St Richard's tomb behind the high altar.|
|They ended their official pilgrimage at St Richard's statue. Forty odd made it all the way. About eighty joined the final walk. The distance overall exceeded 150 miles; some days they covered up to 17 miles.|
|For their final night at Chichester, St Richard's church parish rooms and school hall was the base. They customarily slept on bed rolls in a unisex dorm. Some put their heads down straight away.|
Notably they record their journey daily on their mobile-serviced website, with digital photos taken on the day. The webmaster on this journey is Stephen Smith, who has a laptop, digital camera (5 mega pixels no less) and modem, a mobile linked by bluetooth wireless technology. Today he set up his base station in St Richard's school with miniature furniture to match.
You can see Stephen's record of their remarkable journey on www.thepilgrims.org.uk/2003/diary/index.htm
The less exhausted attended Mass in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, with Fr David and Fr Richard celebrating. The pilgrimage was an ecumenical event. The coordinator is an Anglican Deacon, Bruce Matheson.
|Fr David said this was the feast of Our Lady Queen of Heaven - a newish feast - and the pilgrims noted the power of the Loire stained glass window honouring the Queen of Heaven, brilliantly back lit by the setting sun.|
|The Hon.Secretary is Monica McLaughlin (left) - on the road with her twin. Relieved that everyone made it - and they can think about next year's pilgrimage.|
John Bunyan would surely be proud of them all!