The Shrine Guardians, led by Pauline Allan, organised a two day pilgrimage to St. Albans, Aylesford Priory and the Shrine of St. Jude in Faversham. On our way, Fr. Darren Reid led pilgrims in fifteen decades of the Rosary, with the fourth set completed on arrival at The Friars.
The first stop was the beautiful town and cathedral of St. Albans. Little is known of the early churches built over Alban’s grave. The Shrine of St Alban was the reason for the Abbey’s foundation and the town that grew up around it. The only English pope, Adrian IV, was born locally and granted special privileges to the Abbey, enhancing its reputation and power. The Cathedral is very much a living Church and we enjoyed a fascinating tour led by an expert cathedral guide.
After lunch it was on to Aylesford Priory itself which was the base for the next two days of the pilgrimage. The Friars is home to a small community of Carmelite Friars, who first came here in 1242. We pilgrims enjoyed the breath-taking grounds and stunning medieval buildings, enjoying walks in the Peace Garden and reciting the Rosary with Fr. Darren in Rosary Way. We were welcomed by the Carmelite Brothers and invited to share in their daily prayers and services. The Carmelites strive to be a praying community and we were privileged to be welcomed into this community albeit for a short time.
On the second, and last day of our pilgrimage, Fr Brendan O’Grady welcomed us to The National Shrine of Saint Jude, located in an annex to the parish church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel at Faversham. The development of Faversham into a centre of devotion to St. Jude arose out of the work of the Carmelite Press. The Press was founded in 1938 to print materials sent out to clients who, by their donations, supported the work of the Carmelite friars. As pilgrims, we were invited to pray at the Shrine itself and leave petitions to St. Jude. Benediction followed, after which we were able to venerate one of the Shrine’s three relics of St Jude. We paused for a welcome cuppa and group photos outside were taken before the pilgrims started their journey homewards. Many felt that the visit to the shrine of St. Jude was the highlight of the pilgrimage and found it to be a very moving experience.
Despite delays in traffic and a tiring drive back, everyone arrived home weary but safely. Many thanks to Pauline Allan and Fr. Darren for organising and leading a wonderful and devotional pilgrimage.