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Pilgrimage Stories

 

The Sherbourne Trust had a vision to create a footpath through the city of Coventry along the River Sherbourne.  The 10-mile route lies totally within Coventry as the river winds its way from outside Corley, through the city centre and on to the Sowe outside Baginton.  It takes in many historical sites, ancient pasturelands and the recent industrial heritage of the city; and yet, it is largely unknown by Coventry’s citizens.

 

Members of the Coventry Pilgrimage Planning Group had been walking and praying along this route for several years. However, the 2012 Pilgrimage provided a great opportunity to publicly open the Sherbourne Valley Way.

 

On Sunday 1 April a large crowd of pilgrims met at the Bull and Butcher pub in Corley Moor (not far from the source of the River Sherbourne). During a brief outdoor service, Bishops Christopher and John blessed the Sherbourne Valley Way footpath.  The pilgrims then walked the final leg of the Pilgrimage to Coventry Cathedral.

 

Please click here for photos from the Sherbourne Trust website.

 


The Blessing of the Sherbourne Valley Way
 

A large crowd of pilgrims gathered at the Bull and Butcher in Corley Moor.

 


Shipston-on-Stour to Middle Tysoe

 

It's the spiritual dimension that separates a pilgrimage from a pleasant walk in the Warwickshire countryside.  We were being led by Christoper, Bishop of Coventry, there was excitement and expectation afoot as on a glorious sunny morning I joined the congregation of St Edmunds, Shipston-on-Stour for the celebration of the Eucharist - followed by a bacon roll and croissants.
 
10am and we were off, some thirty souls and a dog or two, next stop St Peter's Church, Whatcote, 5 miles via footpaths across farmland just starting to green as spring took hold, the gift of creation all around us and thoughts of psalm 121:
 
"I lift up my eyes to the hills - from where will my help come?
My help comes from the LORD - who made heaven and earth"
 
For a while I fell in step alongside Bishop Christopher - he'd swapped his vestments for walking apparel, his staff in his hand and the Cross of Nails on a silver chain around his neck, glinting in the morning sun.  Field and spinney, hedgerow and stile through the Warwickshire landscape we kept up a fair pace ...and there was St Peters, the mellow stone church of Whatcote, a welcome cup of tea timed ready for our arrival (a big 'thank you' to all the helpers and cake-makers who provided us with refreshments.  Hosts and pilgrims, a biblical message in the giving and the receiving of hospitality).
 
Before we set off for Tysoe Bishop, Christopher led us in prayer. The Coventry Litany of Reconcilliation, with its response of "Father Forgive", was a timely Lenten reminder.
 
A pilgrimage offers the opportunity to meet fellow travellers in Christ and it was in the conversations and in the silences, in the steady rythmn of one foot following another, in the moments of contemplation under a blue sky and in the unspoken words of silent prayer where the physical pilgrimage intertwined with the spiritual.
 
And then Middle Tysoe, more tea, cake and journeys end.
 
Richard Moore
St Nicholas Church, Kenilworth

 

 


Memories of the 1962 Pilgrimage
 

Norma and John Law both took turns in carrying the
Cross of Nails during the 2012 Pilgrimage.

For John and Norma Law, the 2012 Pilgrimage evoked some vivid memories of the Cross of Nails Pilgrimage that took place fifty years ago.  In 1962 the cross was passed from parish to parish throughout the Diocese over a forty-day period.

 

John and Norma had moved to Bulkington shortly after their marriage. John recalls, "I took my turn in carrying the cross from Bulkington to Shilton.  We arrived at the parish boundary in the dark and rain at eleven o'clock at night."

 

"It was magnificent, because both church processions carried flaming torches.  As we walked towards each other, we could see the torches from Shilton getting larger and brighter.  It was very dramatic."

 

Norma added, "In the 1962 Pilgrimage, the Cross of Nails was carried by every man in the procession.  It's not that women were prevented from carrying it.  Rather, it was simply taken for granted that only the men would want to."

 

John was later ordained in 1967.  He served as a curate at St James' Styvechale, was one of the founding members of the Coventry East Team Ministry, and then served for 23 years at Fillongley and Corley. 

 


From Warwick to Kenilworth

 

John and I decided to join Bishop Christopher on his Southern Pilgrimage and on Wednesday 28th March we set off to catch the bus from Kenilworth to All Saints Church Emscote. On the same bus was Rev Jim Perryman from Leek Wootton church and the three of us made our way together to the meeting place.

 

We joined the rest of the party, that had started out that morning from St Nicholas church Radford Semele, and managed to get there in time to join them in prayer before setting off. We were a small party and led by Rev Richard Awre from St Nicholas Church Kenilworth, we started out from All Saints walking along the canal out to the BP Garage on the “Woodloes Roundabout” and then turning off the main road, before we reached the Saxon Mill, to head across open countryside.  We skirted the golf course at Leek Wootton and continued across beautiful countryside until we reached Rouncil Lane, where we found the footpath that would take us to Kenilworth Castle and our finishing point at St Nicholas Church for a very welcome cuppa and a rest before Bishop Christopher gathered us together in prayer to finalise that stage of the Pilgrimage.

 

It was a lovely afternoon, with warm sunshine and clear blue skies. We counted many wild flowers including wood anemones. The great bonus was getting to know people from other churches and talking to them as we walked. Bishop Christopher did not seem that weary although he had already walked many miles and had many more still to do. If this event is ever repeated we recommend it strongly to you all.

 

Christine Butler
St Mary Magdalene’s Church, Lillington

 

 

A Coventry Way is a 40-mile footpath that encircles the city.  The idea for the footpath was conceived by Cyril Bean in the early seventies, and his story is told on A Coventry Way website.  Sadly, Cyril died on 23 March 2012 (just three days before the Coventry Pilgrimage) at the age of 82.

 

The 'A Coventry Way Association' (ACWA) works hard to promote and maintain the footpath.  Bob Carey, Chairman of the Association, explained that every month a small working party improves a section of the path.

 

The ACWA has been extremely helpful during the planning and walking of the Coventry Pilgrimage.  They kindly gave permission for the Planning Group to make free use of the Association's route booklet.  Bob joined the pilgrims on a couple of occasions said, "We were delighted to be approached about the Pilgrimage.  It's been great to meet so many nice people, and it's also been a good way of promoting the Coventry Way footpath."


Links to other websites
 

 

Some great photos from Steve Cox

 

The Sherbourne Valley Trust

 

A Coventry Way Association
 

 

 


A Coventry Way
 

Pilgrims walking A Coventry Way.

 


And finally ...a very different approach

 

In Willenhall, we took a different approach to the Pilgrimage, and found it a very positive experience.
 
We decided to spend the week walking within our parish - so we spent time every day on a prayer walk, during which we walked on and prayed for every street in the parish.  I was joined each day by a slightly different group of church members, and we shared stories as we walked, about the parish, local events and prayer needs for those we knew locally.
 
We often stopped to talk to others walking along the streets and were asked for specific prayers in different places. Church members who live within the parish, saw parts of it that they hadn't seen for years and we observed changes in the community that we are a part of. All who took part said afterwards "we must do this more regularly".
 
On Palm Sunday, we walked from our parish into the cathedral, meeting with other churches from our Deanery along the way. It was a great feeling to be joined with so many others from across the Diocese in celebration and prayer at the beginning of this very Holy Week.
 
Katrina Scott
Vicar of Willenhall

 

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