Annual pilgrimage more popular than ever
By Josh Low
The popular Way to St James Cygnet pilgrimage returned last month as 150 pilgrims made their way on foot through the Huon Valley, covering more than 30km in two days.
With registrations sold out months in advance, the pilgrimage was held from 13 to 14 January, and saw pilgrims walk through Mountain River, Ranelagh and Cradoc on their way to Cygnet.
Arriving in Cygnet, pilgrims were greeted by pilgrimage founder, Fr Michael Tate, before processing customarily through the streets with an icon of St James.
Following their entrance into the Church of St James, the pilgrims were led in song and a reading and reflection given by Fr Tate. Thuribles of incense were swung by acolytes to reflect the swinging of the ‘Botafumeiro’ of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
In his address to the pilgrims, Fr Tate called for them to reflect on the words of Psalm 148.
“You came on the scene as a pilgrim [and] through you, Psalm 148 was made real,” Fr Tate said.
“As you made your way, your soul was being contoured by natural beauty.”
“Here’s a further astounding truth: Each one of you is a dwelling place of divine beauty.”
Return participant Daniel de la Motte this year walked with eight-year-old daughter Aida, hoping to give her an experience of pilgrimage.
“She has had a great day, and this has been a good opportunity to walk with other pilgrims and teach her in a very physical way what prayer is,” the Kingston-Channel parishioner explained.
“I’ve tried to use the opportunities along the way to teach her that when it has been a hard walk; when she’s been looking forward to food or a stop, just to reflect on Jesus himself who had a hard time when he was carrying his cross, but still did it out of love for us.
“So it was an opportunity to pray, offer it up, and make every step a prayer, one step at a time.
“Every hour we were praying for a different friend or a family member or someone we knew who needed a bit of help,” he said.
“It’s just simple but beautiful and we’ve also been able to share stories with other pilgrims about pilgrimage. I hope she has soaked up what a pilgrimage really is about.”