Today the Northern Pilgrims’ Way was launched with a dedication service in St Duthac’s Collegiate Church in Tain. Bishop Mark led the service, Jamie Campbell was at the organ and Rev Lizzie Campbell sang the hymns and an anthem and Rev James Currall read the lessons. The Lord’s Lieutenants of Ross-shire (Joanie Whiteford) and Sutherland (Monica Main) were in attendance along with a number of representatives of the Churches.
During the service, an information board was dedicated and the members of the congregations were given blessed cockle shells and candles as symbols of the pilgrimage, but in his address Bishop Mark gave strict instructions that the shells were to be given to pilgrims on the way, that those present encountered in the coming months. He also warned that launching the Way was only the beginning of something and not the end.
You can watch the service on Youtube below:
The original pilgrims were not just trying to get from A to B. The trials and tribulations of the journey were part of the experience, as was calling at recognised holy sites along the way. Modern pilgrims want to feel that they are following in the footsteps of these previous generations. So re-creating a pilgrimage route is not as simple as looking at a map and working out the shortest way from one place to another.
The Northern Pilgrims’ Way is what is known in the trade as a braided route. In other words, it offers the pilgrim alternative tracks between the start and end points. While some routes have more history attached to them than others, all are genuine pilgrimage ways through the North of Scotland.
In our time, pilgrimage is being revived in many denominations. Indeed, it is a feature of most main religions and seems to answer a deep-seated need within us to re-connect with the creator of our world and to work out our own place in this creation.
Further events are planned in the coming months at Thurso and at Kirkwall where the route ends.
- 3rd July 2021 in Old St Peter’s Kirk, Thurso at 12:30pm
- 20th August 2021 in East Church, Kirkwall at 12:00noon