Pilgrimage is a universal theme. Its roots are centuries old. Since the first people to hear the Gospel story journeyed to Jerusalem to walk in the steps of Jesus, Christians have found spiritual insight and healing in travelling to the places that are special to our faith.
The Centre for Christian Pilgrimage emerged from a partnership between Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford; the Revd Dr Sally Welch, diocesan spirituality adviser for the Diocese of Oxford; and members of the Christian Pilgrimage Network, a group of people with an interest in pilgrimage spirituality.
Christ Church Cathedral has long been a site of devotion by pilgrims. Christians have felt drawn to pray at the Shrine of St Frideswide for many centuries. The Priory on which the Cathedral was built was an important destination for medieval pilgrims. Many came to pray for healing in the belief that the saint could cure them of a wide variety of complaints. In the 16th century Catherine of Aragon prayed at the Shrine in the hope of giving birth to a son.
Today, people remain drawn to the Latin Chapel and the Shrine it houses because they sense this is a place where the veil between our earthly life and the Kingdom of Heaven is very thin. It is place that has been soaked in prayer over the centuries.
The Revd Dr Sally Welch has written extensively on pilgrimage. Her titles include Making a Pilgrimage (2009); Walking the Labyrinth: A Spiritual and Practical Guide (2010); How to be a Mindful Christian: 40 Simple spritiual practices (2016); Pilgrim Journeys: Pilgrimage for walkers and armchair travellers (2017); and Journey to Contentment; Pilgrimage principles for everyday life (2020).
The Centre for Christian Pilgrimage has been established to support the development of pilgrimage as a tool for discipleship. We aim to share resources and offer practical training and theological reflection in order to deepen our understanding of the value of pilgrimage in the 21st century.