An amazing total of 90 churches welcomed Bishop Martyn during his Lent Pilgrimage, many of them small rural churches which he was visiting for the first time.
Every weekend for six weeks Bishop Martyn walked, prayed and worshipped with people from many of our small worshipping communities, with walks of up to 13 miles each day on each Saturday and Sunday.
The pilgrimage ended on Palm Sunday (2 April) with walks and church visits that took in parts of Akeley East and Launde Deanery; Osgathorpe, Belton, Diseworth Long Whatton, Nanpanton, Quorn, Mountsorrel, Slawston, Cranoe, Wyville and Shangton. Photos below.
It also included the inauguration of the St Morrell’s Round pilgrimage route near Hallaton, Leicestershire which revives a known tradition of pilgrimage around the site of a small chapel in the area in the Middle Ages. You can read all about here.
Highlights of the past six weeks for Bishop Martyn included meeting and praying with the children who took part, including those in the Sparkenhoe West and City Deaneries, as well as the responses from people who received a ‘holding cross’ from olive trees grown in the Holy Land which he gave out at some of the services he took part in during the pilgrimage.
He was invited to talk about the pilgrimage on BBC Radio Leicester on Palm Sunday, just before he set off on the last day of the pilgrimage. Bishop Martyn said:
“The pilgrimage has really been about trying to encourage our churches, it has felt really special visiting places, often which feel over-looked and forgotten. Meeting people, hearing their stories, hearing both the joys and challenges of the last few years, it’s been a real privilege.
“It has taught me something about myself, about the importance of being out and about, what energises me and encourages other people is when I’m out and about doing everyday ordinary things.
“Traditionally pilgrimage has been associated with visiting very special holy sites whether that’s the Holy Land, Canterbury or Lindisfarne but historically there were many, many different pilgrimage routes all over the country. It was something that was very much encouraged in the Middle Ages for people to make these pilgrimages.
“I think we’re rediscovering something of that today. Linking pilgrimage with the Christian Lent season and the journey towards Holy Week and the story of Jesus’s death on the cross, I think is really significant. I hope more and more people will do that and will see pilgrimage as a way of walking with Christ on the way of the cross.”
He told presenter Jo Bostock he is really looking forward to Holy Week:
“It is probably the most important week for Christians as we remember the death of Jesus Christ and next Sunday celebrating the resurrection. It’s a time of hope, a time to be reminded of all that God has done for us and to be filled again with hope and we need that hope in our world at this moment in time.”
You can hear the interview on this link (slide through to 2.37) Jo Bostock - 02/04/2023 - BBC Sounds