The Pilgrim Mass was a great ending to the Congress. I was firstly seated where I was at the end of our Pilgrimage – just inside the sanctuary. But then, in a manner reminiscent of the gospel, the Dean called me to ‘come up higher’. So I was seated in the choir with the concelebrating priests. That was such an amazing privelege. To sit so close to the High Altar and the massive statue of St James was incredible. Throughout the Mass pilgrims were ascending the steps behind the High Altar and their arms kept appearing around the bust of St James as they gave him the pilgrim’s ‘hug’.
The Archbishop of Santiago kindly made reference to Southwark Cathedral in what he said to the pilgrims in the packed Cathedral and then he shared with me the Kiss of Peace. During the Canon of the Mass I knelt on the sanctuary floor as the priests around me concelebrated. It was a strange feeling for me and I think for them.
Yesterday after the Mass one of the people on the Congress came and apologised to me about not being able to share in communion with them. She was evidently feeling the pain of separation at that point of communion. So it was important that we were there, we Anglicans on the Congress, and maybe, maybe, by the grace of God we have helped people think about the nature of hospitality on the Camino, in a particular way.
Before we went to the Mass the Dean ended the Congress by ‘unveiling’ two revised Pilgrim Certificates and a brand new one. The first certificate he showed us was the redesigned one for those who have walked the Camino for ‘pious’ reasons. The second was for those who wished to have a ‘secular’ certificate, but the wording has been enhanced compared to the one previously used.
The new certificate is a version of the ‘pious’ certificate but it recognises the actual journey the pilgrim has made. In the past the Pilgrim Office was only concerned in verifying the last 100km of the pilgrim’s journey. This new certificate records where the pilgrim began walking the Way – however far from Santiago that was. This is a great move and gives real recognition to the heroic journeys being made by ordinary women and men who simply want to follow in the Way.
I left Santiago de Compostela full of renewed joy. The Portal of Glory is like the gate of heaven and this wonderful city, a glimpse of the place to which each one of us is travelling. It has been a few days of blessing in the city where so many journeys are blessed.
bless all pilgrims,
all who travel
and all who seek you
as they walk
and give to each of us
a glimpse of heaven