Up to 100 pilgrims battled the elements as they followed in the footsteps of St Chad from Derbyshire into Staffordshire.
The 19-mile St Chad Pilgrimage from Repton to Lichfield involved church leaders from throughout the Midlands from across Christian denominations. It followed a similar event in 2017 from Birmingham to Lichfield to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and a ‘Chad 2 Chad’ 50-mile pilgrimage through the snow from Shrewsbury to Lichfield last year.
Along the prayer route, which took nine hours to traverse, calling points were:
- St Wystan’s, Repton, the starting point, which was established in the 7th Century and was the base of the first four Bishops of the Mercians, including St Chad
- St Modwen’s, Burton upon Trent, which is the location of the place of prayer established by the Irish nun St Modwen in the 7th Century
- All Saints, Alrewas, which has over 1,000 years of history as a place of prayer
- St Chad’s, Lichfield, the site of the house of prayer established by St Chad in 669AD
- Lichfield Cathedral, for many centuries the resting place of St Chad’s remains, was founded on Christmas Day 700AD.
Pilgrims included the St Chad’s successor as 99th Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave.
“St Chad was a pioneering pilgrim 1,300 years ago who crossed boundaries across Mercia – now the modern-day Midlands – to win people to Christ,” Bishop Michael said. “It was wonderful to walk with Christians from across denominations and communities on Saturday as we followed in Chad’s footsteps. We were also very thankful for the hospitality in the face of some inclement weather we received en route. The need to reach across boundaries as we journey together is more important than ever in our current day.”
Mgr Tim Menezes, Vicar General in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham, added: “The conversations between sometimes strangers of different Christian traditions, based on reasonable curiosity of how we do things differently, made for an engaging distraction from the steady rainfall throughout most of the walk! We walked and prayed and we were very happy to be part this developing tradition of local pilgrimage. It was moving to ask God’s Blessing on places, people, on industry and on God’s creation which is entrusted to our care and to future generations.”
The pilgrimage fell during Thy Kingdom Come, the global wave of prayer which united Christians across the globe between Ascension and Pentecost from 30 May to 9 June.
Listen to an interview with two of the pilgrims on Radio Derby here (from 1hr 19 mins).