The Pilgrimage -
March 30, 2017, 10:33 AM


So…what was the pilgrimage like?

NOTE:  The Epistle contains photos, so you'll want to check that out.  

In one word – fantastic!  Yes, I’d been to Canterbury before, on my seminary senior class trip back in 2011, so I knew more or less what to expect in terms of the layout of the place and the scenery, but this trip was even better – perhaps familiarity played a role in this, or maybe it was because of my growth in faith and ministry.  Either way, I felt the presence of God in many moments, especially during worship (you know I’m a sucker for worship, right?).  I posted quite a few photos on my Facebook page, and am sorting and adding some photos to the website as well.  I also am giving thought to offering a presentation of the trip, but of course, right now is the run-up to Holy Week and Easter, and things are a bit … busy. 

So here are a few “snaps” as a “teaser”. 

This gravestone is one of several hundred in a small church yard at St Martin’s parish – an active worshiping community since at least the year 597, when Pope Gregory the Great sent Augustine of Canterbury to bring the gospel to the “English” – while the Romans and the Britons were Christians, the Angles and Saxon invaders were not.  Augustine’s mission was to bring them into the fold.  In this he was aided by the fact that the King of Kent, Ethelbert, had married a Christian Frankish princess, Bertha, who insisted as a condition of the marriage that she remain Christian. 

The view from my window was a daily source of inspiration – you can see the tower, called “Bell Harry” that stands above the transept – one gets a fine view of the city environs from the roof, though I didn’t climb it this time around!

We generally attended evensong in the “quire” – at the eastern end of the church, in the raised sanctuary space – and enjoyed the soaring voices of the men-and-boys choir.  Canterbury has recently added a men-and-girls choir as well, and I did get to hear them sing as well.

The Cathedral itself has a Norman-era undercroft (11th-13th century) , while the “upstairs” was extensively reworked in the Gothic period – eventually resulting in a nave built in the so-called “English perpendicular” style. 

The Cathedral is fortunate to have preserved some of the stain glass from the earliest period despite the efforts of the Reformation authorities to destroy all visual art, and the veneration of saints.  Canterbury was the site of the assassination of Thomas Becket in 1170, because he put God and the Church ahead of his friend, King Henry II.  During Henry VIII’s reign and thereafter, the monasteries were closed and the churches stripped.  Many of the windows presented stories of various healings attributed to Thomas’ intercession; others showed the ancestors of Christ and life-events of the Savior; and many were destroyed for that reason.

The site of the martyrdom is adorned with a sculpture of two swords, and the point of a (much larger) third, indicating the means of Thomas’ death.  An annual play recounts the event.