After 18 months in which our pilgrimages were most often to the fridge, kettle or perhaps the local park, the desire to lace up our boots and reconnect with the historic and spiritual landscape around us has never been stronger.
Nowhere is this more evident than at Ripon Cathedral, a place which has been a centre of pilgrimage since its founding in 672AD. Since reopening to visitors in July 2021, the cathedral has seen the launch of the Cathedrals Cycling Route , planned a sponsored walk of the historic St Cuthbert’s Way to Lindisfarne and hosts the start of a citywide pilgrimage to historic Fountains Abbey.
Not every event requires walking boots however, with a new virtual pilgrimage launching in October, which features Radio York’s poet laureate Liv Mulligan exploring the theme of sanctuary. A lecture series with Dr Emma Wells, author of Pilgrim Routes of the British Isles, is also planned for October in the cathedral.
Events will even take on an international dimension in 2022 as the Dean of Ripon, the Very Reverend John Dobson DL, will be leading a pilgrimage from Ripon to Rome, inspired by the journeys of the cathedral’s founding saint, St Wilfrid, who travelled to Rome on three occasions during the 7th century – a major feat when international travel was so difficult.
This pilgrimage will celebrate a significant milestone for the cathedral, which celebrates its 1,350th anniversary in 2022. The crypt, all that remains of Wilfrid’s original church, is the oldest of any cathedral building still in use in England, dating all the way back to the church’s founding in 672AD. The original church, described as the ‘finest building north of the Alpes’ by contemporary historians, was inspired by the churches Wilfrid would have seen and worshipped in whilst in Rome, many of which are still standing. Pilgrims from Ripon will be retracting the footsteps of St Wilfrid as they visit the city – experiencing many of the same places that inspired Ripon Cathedral’s founder nearly 14 centuries ago.