Reflections on my first Pilgrimage

Walsingham pilgrims from St Thomas More's

Before the Walsingham Pilgrimage

Our refugee crisis appeal is one that has touched the hearts of many people. I spoke to Jude Doherty about her experiences of her first pilgrimage, how she has been inspired by other volunteers and her plans for her next pilgrimage to St James’ Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.

I have just returned from my parish’s, St.Thomas More, Coventry, pilgrimage to Walsingham. This was my first pilgrimage ever, and was very special as I lost my dear husband to dementia in 2014 (after 50 years together).

I am not officially a CAFOD volunteer but was very moved by Kris Pears’ involvement and his talking about the Lampedusa cross in Walsingham. When he mentioned the idea of my taking it with me on our Camino pilgrimage, I felt very privileged to do so.

Lampedusa Cross

The Lampedusa Cross 

I and three other parishioners are joining Christ the King parish, Coventry, on their pilgrimage to St James’ Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. Around 20 parishioners, my friends and I often walk around 6-8 miles with Canon Tom Farrell on Sunday afternoons, and when we heard they were repeating this pilgrimage we were really keen to join them.

The Camino or St. James’s Way is an ancient pilgrimage dating back to the middle ages when people visited the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santigo de Compostela in Galicia in North-Western Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried.

Many pilgrims travel 500 miles on foot from St Jean Pied de Port in Southern France, but we will only be walking the last 70 or so miles from Sarria to Santiago and will be walking for five days culminating in Mass at the Cathedral.

If my first experience of a pilgrimage is anything to go by, I think this will prove to be a wonderful and powerfully spiritual time. Walking and praying together in the open air is very special and the close bonds, and camaraderie with other pilgrims can be very enriching, refreshing and uplifting.

I only hope I can do justice to CAFOD’s work for Refugees, and with the Holy Spirit guiding me I look forward to highlighting your work and the story of the Lampedusa cross.

If you have been inspired to learn more about the Lampedusa Cross and Pilgrimage, we have downloadable resources on our website.

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