In thanksgiving for the easing of the Covid regulations, allowing us to have this event, I decided to do two new things, personally. One was to do a pre-pilgrimage, walking from Cambridge to Ely: extending the pilgrimage backwards. The other was to do the walk in a kilt. So there I am, above, looking a bit the worse for wear outside the Catholic Shrine on the final day: photo courtesy of Peter Jones. (The rest in this post are mine.)
It was by far the biggest walking pilgrimage we have done. There were about 120 people walking and 12 non-walking volunteers: cooks and drivers. For the first time, we had four chapters, which walk, sing, and pray, as a group, with gaps between chapters to let cars overtake more easily on roads: the same system as is used on the Chartres pilgrimage.
A Votive Mass for Pilgrims (Dominican Rite) was very kindly celebrated for us in the Cambridge Blackfriars by Fr Gregory Pearson OP. It was served by the Latin Mass Society's Local Representative, Gregor Dick.
The pre-pilgrimage was just me with two others. Perhaps we can do it with more people next year, having established the feasibility of the route.
It was almost all along the river, the Great Ouse, from Cambridge to Ely. It should have been 17 miles, but it ended up being rather longer, as we took a wrong turning up a tributary. One lives and learns.
The pilgrims gather on Thursday evening and we have a meal together. Early on Friday we had a High Mass (votive for pilgrims) in St Ethelreda's, Ely's Catholic parish church. We had two priests with us: Fr Henry Whisenant, a priest of the diocese of East Anglia who has a chaplaincy for the Traditional Mass at Withermarsh Green, and Fr Serafino Lanzetta, Superior of the Family of Mary Immaculate and St Francis, based in Portsmouth Diocese. Fr Serafino brought two of his confreres with him, Fra Joseph and Fra Anthony. We also had the Rev Mr Gwilym Evans FSSP, who was this year ordained Deacon; he was subdeacon at the High Masses while the priests took turns to celebrate.
Fr Whisenant gave us the Blessing of Pilgrims from the Roman Ritual before we set off.
The first leg continued up the Great Ouse from Ely out of Cambridgeshire: shortly after entering Norfolk we come off the river. It is difficult to give a sense of the numbers; especially when we were in single file, the column went on a long time! We were accompanied by pilgrims of all ages: some of the stoutest walkers were very young indeed.
On Friday evening Fr Lanzetta enrolled 16 candidates into the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
On Saturday morning we had Mass in the private chapel of Oxburgh Hall. We filled this chapel; we also have a Low Mass before the High Mass for the volunteers.
To be continued.
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