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A PILGRIM IN SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA

Joyce was given the opportunity of being on pilgrimage with a group from Southwark Cathedral to Santiago in May 2013, led by the Dean, the Very Rev’d Andrew Nunn. The day they arrived in this holy place, where the apostle James is buried, about 1100 other pilgrims had their Pilgrimage passport stamped at the Cathedral Pilgrims’ Office. It was amazing to think of those numbers arriving each day, almost all in response to faith. At the Pilgrims’ Mass she was invited to sit by the Dean within the rails in front of the altar. It was the sublime experience of the pilgrimage for her. After the reading of the Gospel, she and the Dean went to the microphone, where he read the Southwark Invocation to the Apostle and she gave the gift of a box of Mucknell Abbey incense. After communion, which took some time in a packed cathedral, the men who swing the Botafumeiro appeared, and it was filled with the incense gift. The thurible was raised and swung higher and higher into both transepts, the inferno within it quite visible, an impressive sight as the smoke and smell filled the cathedral. Initially the thurible was introduced to cleanse the building of the smell of the pilgrims. Though not necessary these days, it represented the prayers of thanksgiving of all present, rising with the smoke heavenwards. The cantor at the Mass was Sr Maria Ascuncion who sang beautifully. She and Joyce’s paths crossed after the service when they warmly greeted each other as sister pilgrims. From the Invocation read by the Dean, ‘We believe that the Camino to Santiago is a road to life and a source of goodness and peace in this world. We believe that all who walk the Way are drawn deeper into faith, and come to know our Lord Jesus Christ just as you knew him as his Apostle and friend.’

Sr Joyce and Sr Maria Ascuncion greet each other after the Pilgrim Mass

Sr Joyce and Sr Maria Ascuncion greet each other after the Pilgrim Mass