Carmelite pilgrimage from Faversham to Canterbury

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Carmelite friars and devotees of the National Shrine of Saint Jude in Faversham made a pilgrimage across the county of Kent to Canterbury Cathedral on 17th November 2018.

The pilgrimage linked one of Kent's newer holy sites (the National Shrine of Saint Jude was established by the Carmelites in Faversham in 1955) with one of its most historic. Canterbury was chosen by Saint Augustine, 'Apostle to the English', as the site of his cathedral in the year 597. Canterbury rose to be the pre-eminent diocese of the medieval English Church, gaining an even further reputation for sanctity in 1170 when Archbishop Thomas Becket was martyred in his cathedral.

In recent years there has been a considerable revival in pilgrimages across Kent, with groups like The British Pilgrimage Trust reviving historic pilgrimage routes and establishing new ones.

The pilgrims gathered at the National Shrine of Saint Jude for a morning of reflection and prayer led by Fr. Ged Walsh, O.Carm.

After lunch they travelled by coach along the historic pilgrimage route from Faversham - via Harbledown - to the Westgate of Canterbury.

The pilgrims, led by the Carmelite Prior Provincial Fr. Kevin Alban, were welcomed at Canterbury Cathedral by the resident Anglican clergy.

The pilgrims celebrated Mass in the beautiful crypt, the original location of the Shrine of Saint Thomas Becket before it was moved to the main body of the cathedral.




Later in the day the pilgrim group took part in the Cathedral's celebration of Evensong. This was followed by a time of prayer at the former shrine of Saint Thomas Becket; though destroyed at the Reformation, the site remains an important place of Christian devotion.

Returning to Faversham, the pilgrim group continued its ecumenical encounters by visiting the beautiful Church of St. Mary. Like Canterbury Cathedral, at the Reformation St. Mary's became an Anglican place of worship, and the pilgrims were warmly welcomed by the Parish Administrator who gave an account of the church's history.

The pilgrimage was organised by Mr. Matthew Betts, Development Manager of the National Shrine of Saint Jude, who said: 'It was a wonderful day. Thank you to all the pilgrims who joined us; thank you also to Fr. Kevin Alban, Prior Provincial, for leading, us, and to Fr. Ged Walsh and Br. Tony O'Donnell for joining us. We remembered all friends of the Carmelites today, and left prayer intentions at the Shrines of Saint Jude and Saint Thomas of Canterbury.'