Sunday, July 25, 2010

On the feast of St. James: recent news about the old Pilgrim routes to Santiago de Compostella and other relevant musings

A happy and holy feast of St. James to everyone.

Last week Zenit reported that 7 Spanish and 7 French bishops met for the second time to further plans for a joint effort in preserving the old Pilgrim routes and to develop their potential as a 'privileged place for evangelisation'. The bishops are to be thanked and encouraged for this response to one of the major emphases of Pope Benedict's pontificate. Not only are the bishops making their initiative during the Jubilee Year of St James in Santiago itself and which the Holy Father will himself visit in November, but it is a POSITIVE response to his recent announcement of a new dicastery for the re-evangelisation of Europe, and shows up the critical statements from other English episcopal quarters as negatively unhelpful.

(Instead of rubbishing the Pope's lead, it would be much more constructive to take a leaf from the Spanish and French bishops' book and start looking at our own pilgrim routes in England and Wales, to Canterbury for instance, particularly since the Feast of St Thomas of Canterbury has recently been properly restored to our national calendar. The English and Welsh conference asked for this. Why is it that they do not all seem able to 'join op the dots' here? Don't they remember that until Henry VIII despoiled Canterbury and had all references to St. Thomas a Becket removed from the liturgical books, there were four major centres of Pilgrimage in Christendom: Jerusalem and Rome of course, and Santiago and Canterbury, the latter remaining fixed, at least in our literary patrimony, by Geoffrey Chaucer. But I digress.)

Only one the French bishops is mentioned by name in the Zenit report and that is Cardinal Archbishop Ricard of Bordeaux. The other diocese involved is that of Toulouse. As yet I've been unable to find out who the other five prelates are and will ask Pere Marchand about it the next time I see him. St. Romain is only 2km away from a pilgrim route which runs through Aubeterre and that is the resaon why its parish church is dedicated to St. Jacques. (It has a 14th century facade. The rest of the church was destroyed during the Wars of Religion but was rebuilt during the 17th century.) I once saw a map of three major routes that traverse France, and I have to admit to disappointment that only seven bishops were at these meetings. I should imagine that at least double that number occupy relevant sees. One hopes that the seven will evangelise and encourageme their brothers! So far no word has reached me of anthing being planned in this diocese of Angouleme.
The full Zenit report is here.

In Christo pro Papa


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