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Carmelites make pilgrimage to Westminster Abbey
08 June 2012

On Wednesday 6th June Carmelite friars joined parishioners from English Martyrs Catholic Church in Walworth and other Christians from that London borough in an ecumenical pilgrimage to Westminster Abbey.

The pilgrimage was organised by Churches Together in Walworth. As well as parishioners from English Martyrs pilgrims came from St. Peter's (an Anglican church in the 'High Church Catholic' tradition), St. Christopher's (an Anglican church in the 'Open Catholic' tradition), and Cross Ways (United Reform Church).

The Walworth pilgrims outside Westminster Abbey.

Westminster Abbey was founded as a Benedictine community in 956, the monks being expelled during the Reformation. It is one of the greatest sites of worship in the Church of England, designated a World Heritage Site, and known internationally as one of Britain's iconic places of prayer. The coronation of Kings and Queens has taken place here since 1066, and many of the nation’s monarchs are buried in the Abbey.

Westminster Abbey (right) is a landmark of the capital's skyline.

Principal among them is Saint Edward the Confessor, King of England from 1042 to 1066, whose shrine is at the heart of the Abbey.

The shrine of St. Edward the Confessor in Westminster Abbey.

Also buried or memorialised in the Abbey are over 3,000 politicians, soldiers, writers, musicians, priests, and people regarded as having made a major contribution to national life.

In 2010 Benedict XVI became the first pope to visit the Abbey during his Apostolic Visit to the United Kingdom.

Pope Benedict embracing the Archbishop of Canterbury
during his 2010 visit to Westminster Abbey.

The pilgrims from Walworth visited the Abbey in the evening after it closed to the public. The group was shown around the Abbey by the Reverend Jamie, who is a member of the Abbey Chapter and a friend to Walworth Churches Together.

The pilgrims prayed at some important places in the Abbey and finished with Compline in the Choir.

The pilgrims from Walworth inside Westminster Abbey.

English Martyrs Catholic Church is served by a community of Carmelite friars, and two members of the community - the parish priest Fr. Francis Kemsley and Br. Paul Jenkins - were among the pilgrims. They were joined by a number of visiting Carmelite friars, including Fr. Charlò Camilleri from Malta (visiting Britain to give some input to the novice friars), and from Aylesford Priory in Kent came Br. Tony O'Donnell, accompanied by the novices Jacek Bargielski, Kurt Mizzi and Severin Tyburski.

The Carmelite friars outside Westminster Abbey.

Carmelite religious and laity will return to Westminster Abbey in October to join the annual commemorations in honour of St. Edward the Confessor around his feast day.

Photography: Revd. Alan Wild