A Very Byzantine Journey

A Very Byzantine Journey

Author J Richard Smith
Publisher Sacristy Press £14.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9781789592160

This book records the author’s adventures when visiting some of the sites of the key events detailed in the Gospels, illustrated with icons portraying them. First come some brief comments on iconographic art, and on the ‘Cloth of Edessa’ and how it has influenced the depiction of the face of Jesus in icons. The travels then described include visits to Istanbul, Rome and Manopello (to see the cloth), Cairo (exile of the Holy Family), and key gospel-event sites in Palestine. For each site there is an accompanying icon illustration. The journeyings, which often involve hiking considerable distances across country, are described in great detail with explanations of ease or difficulties of travel and problems encountered along the way, which may be helpful to others wishing to undertake the same pilgrimages. There are also detailed descriptions of his companions and comments on hotels stayed in, meals eaten and incidental events. Though the author records his spiritual experiences at some of the sites, there is surprisingly little in the way of description of the sites themselves. This is very much an idiosyncratic personal journal.


Icons, Pilgrimage


Crossroad: A Pilgrimage of Unknowing

A Pilgrimage of Unknowing

Author Charles Moseley
Publisher DLT £20
Format hbk
ISBN 9781913657864

Whitby, Iona, Ely and Walsingham: these are just some of the sacred sites visited in a meandering pilgrimage by Charles Moseley, a retired academic whose lyrical account is marked by a deep learning, as he reflects on the history, both natural and spiritual, of the British Isles. There is a refreshing earthiness to the story, as the author faces the challenges of uncertain weather and terrain, enjoys his beer and sandwiches, or manages to keep on walking despite a painful hip. He is a gentle and genial guide to some of the most haunting and beautiful sites, hills, cliffs, coasts and river valleys steeped in the prayer of past generations. A lifetime’s reading and research is reflected in quotations and commentary from passages of scripture and poetry. He is a man of faith, his worship informed by an Anglo-Catholic spirituality, and a great lover of the countryside’s traditional ways. There are flashes of anger too, as he considers the past destruction of monasteries, the iconoclasm of the Reformation, and the present destruction of the environment. This is a charming book, to be enjoyed at leisure.




A Pilgrimage Around Wales

A Pilgrimage
Around Wales

Author Anne Hayward
Publisher yLolfa £8.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9781784615291

The author, a Reader living in the Brecon Beacons, embarked on a three-month pilgrimage, carrying all her necessities in her rucksack including her camping equipment. She was supported by her husband bringing weekly supplies. Three themes in the book are woven into the chapters which summarise her many conversations along her journey – responses to her questions, factual snippets which set the historical context, and spiritual issues which crop up. The author takes in four ancient places of pilgrimage: Holywell, Bardsey Island, St David’s, and Llantwit Major. The book is fascinating and unusual in its style. Much preparation and research were put into the pilgrimage before one step was taken from her home. Striking up conversations with people in her journeys was a key part of her experience. Prayer also played a vital part. If a Reader is thinking of making a pilgrimage it could be well worth reading this book.



Advent, Nativity


Pilgrim Journeys

Pilgrim Journeys

Author Sally Welch
Publisher BRF  £7.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9780857465139

Welch takes the reader on an unexpected journey with this slim but thought-provoking companion to ten pilgrim routes in Europe and the Holy Land. Avoiding such practical details as can be found on the internet, she instead offers a themed meditation on the spiritual steps that lead on a walk towards holiness. The opening description of St Columba’s Way, from Iona to St Andrews, becomes an extended discussion of what it means to be called, including a heartfelt appraisal of her own sense of mission. Driven by a self-confessed feeling of restlessness, her attachment to pilgrimage has an authentic ring to it: the word pilgrim was first used to describe a type of perpetual wanderer, a self-imposed exile whose journey was far removed from the later understanding of a return trip to a holy site and back. She concludes by describing a talk about an expedition planned with almost military precision along a Norwegian pilgrimage route to Trondheim, which left the audience impressed but unmoved by its spiritual content. Instead her book offers a more reflective and profitable meander along pilgrim ways.




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