Friday, September 7, 2018

North American Festival of Wales

This past weekend I had the privilege to speak on pilgrimage places in Wales at the North American Festival of Wales. Wales has a rich history as a place of pilgrimage, long before the first Christians ever arrived or were formed in the country.Holy wells, lakes, trees, islands, and standing stones were sacred sites visited for prayer and ritual in the Iron Age and likely before.

Some of these sites have been remembered as they were woven into the Christian story, like Virtuous Well aka St. Anne's well near Trellech.  Others were lost to history and rediscovered through chance, such as Llyn Cerrig Bach on Anglesey Island. Most have probably been lost to us for good.

Likewise, there were probably more established pilgrimage routes leading to places such as Bardsey Island and St. David's Cathedral than are remembered.  In 2013, pilgrims from Washington National Cathedral heard about the reclaiming of the North Wales Pilgrim's Way from some of the organizers of that project during the diocese of St. Asaph's "Year of the Pilgrimage" and then went on to visit some of the stops along that route. In my talks on Friday and Saturday, we traced that northern route from Basingerwerk Abbey to Bardsey Island as well as a pilgrimage trail in the south that leads from the Wye Valley along the coast to St. David's Cathedral. Below are a few maps and pictures of some of those sacred sites we virtually visited this weekend. Thank you to all who attended!

North Wales Pilgrim's Way

Basingwerk Abbey

St. Winefride's Well, Holywell

St. Beuno's Church, Clynnog Fawr

South Wales pilgrimage route

Clooties on a hawthorn tree by Virtuous Well

Tintern Abbey
Old Celtic crosses, St. Illtyd's Church

St. David's Cathedral