Church in Wales has created an online pilgrimage using Google Earth this Holy Week.
With churches unable to gather together due to covid-19 restrictions, Church in Wales has created an immersive experience based on 3D and satellite images from Google Earth to allow people to explore Wales’ historic churches.
For Bishop of Bangor, the Right Reverend Andy John, the initiative is about enabling people to connect spiritually with sacred places and bring the story of Easter into their homes: “Our virtual pilgrimage provides a unique opportunity for Anglicans across the world to journey together with Christ and explore the rich history of Christianity in Wales from the comfort of their sofa.”
Each of the 14 Welsh churches included in the virtual pilgrimage represents an event on Christ’s final journey from his trial to his crucifixion and burial. The tour begins at Bangor Cathedral and passes through St Asaph, Monmouthshire, South Wales, Swansea & Brecon and St David. Each church has uploaded a special video reflection and prayer to Google Earth, along with a short history of the building and local area.
Speaking to Premier, Matt Batten, Church in Wales Director of Communications and Engagement, highlighted how the experience will be an active one for prospective e-pilgrims.
“Using Google Earth means that you're not just watching a video, you're participating. You have to click, you have to move through the map, as Google Earth guides you to the next location. It's a very much a very involved pilgrimage, rather than just sat watching”.
Batten hopes that when travel restrictions are relaxed in Wales, the virtual pilgrims will have been inspired to visit the churches in person.
“I would love for people to visit the locations that they have virtually visited with our pilgrimage…that they will then look for places near home to visit that are spiritual locations, buildings with Christian faith, that they can then travel to and feel nourished spiritually, spiritually, as well as physically”.
The Church in Wales’ virtual pilgrimage is available on Google Earth here