Companionship and reflection on the Way to St James

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Home > Media > News > Companionship and reflection on the Way to St James
Companionship and reflection on the Way to St James

Companionship, faith-filled poetry, and flamenco singing – taking place for the fourth time since 2016, the Way to St James Cygnet pilgrimage walk attracted more than 100 participants in January.

At Mountain River, each pilgrim collected a scallop shell and pebble before receiving a blessing from Fr Michael Tate. A recital of the sonnet ‘Pied Beauty’, a poem by nineteenth-century English Jesuit priest Gerard Manley Hopkins that praises God’s creative beauty, set the tone for the first leg of the walk covering a distance of 14 kilometres.

Pilgrims traversed farmland, back and sealed roads before arriving at St Mary of the Cross Church, Ranelagh at the end of the first day. Day two of the pilgrimage saw participants walk another 14 kilometres from Ranelagh to Cygnet.

Arriving in the town on Sunday afternoon, and coinciding with the Cygnet Folk Festival, pilgrims carried a large icon of Saint James into the church accompanied by flamenco singing performed by the Melbourne Georgian Choir. They then laid down the pebbles they had carried with them for the duration of the walk, symbolising that their burdens had been lifted.

The Way to St James Cygnet pilgrimage was developed by Fr Michael Tate, who linked the name of the Catholic church in Cygnet (St James), and the Church’s Spanish restoration design, to the famous El Camino de Santiago (‘the way of St James’) pilgrimage route in Spain.

Fr Tate said the event was a “wonderful experience” for pilgrims, many whom had travelled from interstate to participate, and that this year’s walk had a meditative focus.

“The wider group of pilgrims really love walking through the beautiful countryside of the Huon Valley, tilled fields, vineyards, pastures, tempered country, the sheer beauty,” Fr Tate said.

“This year the meditative aspect came to the fore along with the companionship of walking in the rhythm of fellow pilgrims … The natural beauty of the countryside and their companionship, all that contours their souls for the embrace of divine beauty.”