From Saturday 18 – Sunday 19 February, 11 members of the College undertook a pilgrimage to Durham, focusing on the northern saints. We began with lunch in the beautiful Prior’s Hall, followed by an excellent talk from the Precentor and Vice-Dean, Canon David Kennedy, on the history and evolution of processional rites in the Cathedral, from pre-Reformation evidence up to the liturgical renewal of the last couple of decades. Canon Kennedy then took us around the Cathedral, illustrating the way in which the northern saints are honoured liturgically. He also showed us an important piece of Anglican history – the Dean Hunt altar, the first stone altar installed in England after the Reformation.
After Evensong, we held our Pilgrimage Eucharist at the Shrine of St Cuthbert, gathered around the bones of the blessed saint himself, and presided over by Fr Ben Gordon-Taylor. We gathered first at the Shrine of St Bede in the Galilee Chapel (astonishingly, his remains are also still preserved in the Cathedral) and then embarked on a lengthy time of ‘liquid prayer’. This consisted of stations around the Cathedral with prayer intentions, including prayer for vocations, the College, evangelism, and so on, accompanied by readings from Bede’s Life of St Cuthbert, and taking as long as we wished at each station. It was a most moving and engaging way to direct our prayer, honour St Cuthbert, and prepare ourselves to receive the Sacrament at his Shrine.
After the morning liturgies on Sunday (Mattins and Eucharist) we travelled out to the ruins of Finchale Priory, built on the site of the hermitage of St Godric, where we sang CR Evensong in the remains of the Quire (pictured, preparing to sing). Godric was one of the first lyrical poets in English, and we sang one of his hymns – the earliest-known text in English for which the original music survives. We then had a chance to wander prayerfully in the ruins before making our way back to Mirfield.
Our sincere thanks go to Canon Kennedy and the Chapter of Durham for their hospitality, and to Fr Ben for leading us in worship.
Alexander Crawford and Sebastian Hamilton, Pilgrimage Officers.