60 members of the Arras Compostelle Francigena Association travelled to Canterbury on Friday, 6 April to experience a one-day pilgrimage on the UK section of the Francigena from Canterbury to Dover.
They were supported by the European Association of the Vie Francigene, who provided each pilgrim with a credential, and received assistance from the Canterbury Diocese to organise a communal meal at the church hall of St. Thomas on Burgate Street that evening. The members of the Association have each walked a section of the Camino and were aiming to replicate the Camino spirit of minimalism and pilgrim community in Canterbury.
Several members of the Confraternity of Pilgrims to Rome met the group bright and early at the Cathedral gate on Saturday, 7 April, including Brian Mooney (Chairman), Julia Peters (Canterbury Rep) and Jonas Ewe (Communications). Velia Coffey, Vice-President of the EAVF, was also there to wish the pilgrims a good journey. In total, a group of 72 gathered around the zero-kilometre stone to receive a blessing from Canon Clare.
At St. Andrew’s church in Shepherdswell the pilgrims were welcomed with a table laden with freshly baked cakes and offers of tea and coffee, the sun coming out just in time to warm the group as they mingled in the churchyard. Pilgrims who were feeling too tired to continue boarded the coach, while 37 of the Arras group continued on to Dover. With the ferry back to Calais leaving at 6pm, the group moved at a brisk pace but still making time for photos in front of Waldershare House and to peek inside the lovely church of All Saint’s.
With a mix of ‘au revoirs’ and ‘thank yous’, the Arras group boarded their coach in Dover. Co-organisers Didier Morel and Laurent Sivre extended an invitation to the CPR to visit them in Arras, stating they were eager to return the welcome and kindness they had experienced in Kent. The Confraternity looks forward to future exchanges with the Arras Association and have offered their support in promoting the Francigena in North France.
Julia Peters (Confraternity of Pilgrims to Rome, Canterbury Rep).