To many, St Cuthbert’s Ripon connections may come as a surprise. As the patron saint of Northumbria, his connections to Durham, Holy Island and the remote Farne Islands are widely commemorated but few know of his years in Ripon serving as guest-master of the abbey, which was established by monks from Melrose in the 650s.
Members of the Cathedral Community recently rekindled this historic link, treading the route from Melrose to Lindisfarne along St Cuthbert’s Way, ending with a barefoot crossing of the causeway to Holy Island. The pilgrimage, led by Canon Ailsa, kickstarts a season of pilgrimage at the cathedral which will celebrate the unique historic and spiritual landscape of the North of England.
Canon Ailsa said, “To go on pilgrimage is to go on more than a journey. Travelling from place to place – particularly on foot – you leave your ordinary life behind you and have a chance to view it afresh as you encounter new things. There’s something about walking together, sharing the joys and challenges of the journey that is special.
“On the Cuthbert Way we certainly encountered special, beautiful places and, talking and laughing together, grew together as a group. Many of us ended the day with shared prayer and all of us joined in this prayer as we started out each morning, conscious of our walking in the presence of God:
as we set out in sandals, boots and trainers;
on wheels, and borne by angels;
be our leader and our guide,
our back-marker and our patience,
with each other, with each creature, with ourselves,
with God’s good intent all around us on our way.
Further pilgrimages are planned, including a walk from Ripon Cathedral to Fountains Abbey and even a trip to Rome, which will retrace the steps of the cathedral’s founder, St Wilfrid, who made three trips to Rome in the 7th century.