Author Anne Hayward
Publisher yLolfa £8.99
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.
Author Sally Welch
Publisher BRF £7.99
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.
Shrines of the Saints
in England and Wales
Author Michael Tavinor
Publisher Canterbury Press £19.99
ISBN 9781848258426 (2016)
In the first part of his book Tavinor explores the history of the major shrines of medieval times, their influence on the life and spirituality of abbeys and cathedrals, and their destruction in the sixteenth century. Tavinor devotes the second part to the fate of the shrines post-Reformation and to their revival and restoration from the nineteenth century onwards as the Church of England rediscovered the lives of the saints. Cathedrals have thus become central once again to the mission of the church, attracting large numbers of ordinary people, who seek comfort, encouragement and a focus for prayer by visiting a holy place. In a postscript, surveys conducted at three restored shrines demonstrate how shrines are used today, and there is a helpful bibliography for those wishing to know more. This book reminds us that places associated with the saints are important as an aid to devotion. It may also inspire Readers in their work of energising the faith of others.