Pilgrimage celebrates 750 years of Abbey


by the Revd Christine Collinge

THE Revd Mother, Sister Victoria Mary SPB (pictured)  greeted pilgrims on the way to Burnham Abbey from Goring as part of the celebration of 750 years of the Abbey and 100 years of The Society of the Precious Blood, an Anglican contemplative religious community, at Burnham.Rev'd Mother greeting walker at Marlow (1)

The medieval abbey at Burnham was originally home to some Canonesses from Goring Priory. In 1916 the present community found their home at Burnham Abbey. These Sisters, led by Mother Millicent Mary SPB, followed the same Augustinian rule as the Goring Sisters so the link is very strong. The week began with a celebratory Eucharist at the church of St Thomas of Canterbury, in Goring. There was a specially painted depiction of St Christopher, the singing of an authentic thirteenth century pilgrim song during Communion, the wearing of scallop shells and the sprinkling of the pilgrims with holy water.

Pilgrims walked for part of a day, a whole day or for all five days. Some pilgrims made the pilgrimage prayerfully at home. Each morning stories were shared and in the afternoon the walking took place in silence, each step deepening the sense of God. The walk varied from the leafy English river landscape, to the incongruity of negotiating the Thames Path through Henley Regatta in full swing!

On the final day eager Companions and Oblates welcomed the walking pilgrims through the original lychgate. The week was crowned with a Eucharist celebrated in a marquee by long-time Companion The Very Reverend Richard Giles. The celebration ended as it had begun – with the singing of All my hope on God is founded.

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