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No need for pilgrims to go abroad

SIR – I essentially agree with the conclusions of your insightful feature on the boom in pilgrimage travel (Rest of the World news analysis, August 31), in that my personal experience suggests its recent rise in popularity is unlikely to reflect a quantitative revival in the faith. But it remains a vital and necessary qualitative boost to the individual’s spiritual quest.

Almost 20 years ago I was privileged to walk the Camino pilgrimage trail to the tomb of St James at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Although the culminating Pilgrim Mass at the cathedral and my devotions there were impressive and will always

remain with me, it is the many other features of walking the Way of St James which continue to resonate within my soul. In particular, the fellowship with the many other pilgrims I met, and probably the most wonderful experience of all: a simple Mass in Latin celebrated in a humble Romanesque church in a small hamlet by a priest from the monastery of Monte Cassino, assisted by two brothers.

Of course, closer to home, we have the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in Norfolk. Every time I have gone on pilgrimage there – both as an Anglican and later as a Catholic – it seems like coming home. The typically English setting and big Norfolk skies remind me that this realm remains very much Our Lady’s Dowry.

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