‘When in April, sweet showers fall

Stanford is a Catholic and the content of his book is heavily weighted towards Christian routes and shrines such as Santiago de Compostela, Lourdes, and Rome. Nevertheless, he treads a balanced and respectful line across the wider religious terrain.

The Power of Song

This week I spent a day walking and talking with Will Parsons, co-founder of the British Pilgrimage Trust and intrepid explorer into that rich spiritual world which lies beyond the surface of any pilgrim path. It was a transcendent experience. Our day’s journey began in the misty morning amongst the yew trees of St Mary’s churchyard, Patrixbourne … Continue reading The Power of Song

Redemption and why it pays to compromise

When leaders misjudge the mood of the public, repentance can help, and so can pilgrimage. July 12th, 1174, and the crowds have gathered to watch a spectacle. The King is dressed in sackcloth and is making his barefooted way from St Dunstan’s Church through Canterbury, to the crypt of St Thomas Becket. Here he is … Continue reading Redemption and why it pays to compromise

Women on the Road

Stuffing the dried fruit and almonds into my backpack, I made a brief visit to the Cathedral to focus my thoughts and then set off from Canterbury to walk to Dover. Eight hours, and much sun-block later, I had completed stage 1 of the Via Francigena. The path out of the perfect Kentish village of … Continue reading Women on the Road