St. James’ Day this year will be very special in Santiago as the feast day falls on a Sunday. In 1122, Pope Calixtus II ensured that pilgrims visiting the Shrine of St. James when the feast day fell on a Sunday would receive a special plenary indulgence. Ever since then, when St. James’ Day falls on a Sunday, that year has been called a ‘Holy Year’ and pilgrims enter the great cathedral via a special ‘Holy Door.’ Because of the pandemic, Pope Francis has extended the Holy Year into 2022 and Canon Nancy Mead hopes that some of us might like to walk part of the Camino in 2022. While we might not be too interested in receiving a plenary indulgence (time off in purgatory), walking the Camino is clearly life-changing for most who participate. Pilgrimage is a powerful expression of our journey of faith and, as I said in my sermon recently, it is not the destination but the journey that matters. Pilgrimage symbolizes our journey of faith as well as our journey of life and is a chance to reflect on that journey with others.
Also in 2022, Mother Turner has been asked by the Order of Malta if she would like to join them on their annual pilgrimage to Lourdes in France with disabled pilgrims. Alison used to visit Lourdes regularly with the Handicapped Children’s Pilgrimage Trust (HCPT) who have a wonderful retreat house there called Hosanna House. Our eldest daughter who has a learning disability loved to go when she was a child. If any of you are interested in joining Mother Turner and giving practical help to disabled pilgrims next May, please let her know.
Last week, I shared with you a special recipe for Tarta de Santiago. In case you still want to make one for this special feast day, you can find the recipe on the ‘La Tienda’ website.
Finally, a poem to celebrate St. James’ Day by Pauline Omen, from Ireland, who has walked two stages of the Camino.
Happy St. James’ Day! On Sunday, we will have the joyful noise of twelve gentlemen of the choir singing.
Your Priest and Pastor,
by Pauline Omen
The seed is planted in our minds,
When friends return from their pilgrim way,
Telling us of the wonders to behold.
The urge is so great to explore and embrace,
The call to this Camino.
The landscape of the mountains, hold us all in awe,
soaring Griffon Vultures floating on the thermals in the sky.
Along with Royal Eagles and Sparrow Hawks seeking their prey.
Mountains peaks are covered with their Winter snow.
Wildflowers of Springtime, shine forth their petals of beauty.
Give joy to the pilgrim as they journey along.
The sound of rushing water cascading over stones,
Is refreshing and reviving for the weary spirit.
Moments of quietness, in the forest of the trees.
Going through small hamlets, the serenity that they hold.
Observing local people doing their daily chores, and toiling in the fields.
Each will wave a greeting as you saunter by.
The wonder of this pathway,
Between people of all nations,
Is the friendship that is formed.
All share the same desire,
To reach their destination,
And pay homage to St. James.
For the wonders that we encountered on our pilgrim way.
And thank him for his call.