Today we celebrate the feast of St James, the first apostle to be martyred. He was beheaded by Herod Agrippa I. Tradition has it that his relics were brought to Spain and his Shrine at Compostella in Galicia became one of the greatest centres of pilgrimage in Western Europe.
Every year many people walk one of the many routes that cross Europe to Santiago de Compostela. Some years ago I did have plans to walk some of the route with a friend, but I chickened out as I realised at the time I was not fit. I still harbour an ambition to walk the Camino.
The Scallop-shell, the emblem of St James, has become the emblem of pilgrims generally. To go on pilgrimage is a prayer in action. It is a walking prayer. Pope Benedict XVI wrote, “To go on Pilgrimage really means to step out of ourselves in order to encounter God where he has revealed himself, where his grace has shone with particular splendour and produced rich fruits of conversion and holiness among those who believe.”
Canterbury is a great pilgrimage destination and I have met many people who have walked to Canterbury from Winchester and London and some who have set off from Canterbury to walk to Rome. For many of us we are not fit enough or are unable to give the time to spend weeks or months walking but we are all pilgrims on the Way. We are on a journey and our true home, our destination is in heaven and our loving Father. How we journey is important. As we walk through the hours of this day we can encounter God in the events we experience and the people we meet. May St James and all the Saints be our companions, our encouragement and our inspiration.
This is my last daily reflection. As things change and we move from lockdown, I am finding it more difficult to find the time to write each morning. It has been a great discipline for me and I hope my words have been an encouragement. Thank you for reading.