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UK News

Church in Wales to mark 900 years of pilgrimage to St David's Cathedral

by Sophie Drew

To celebrate 900 years of pilgrimage to St David's Cathedral, the Church in Wales is holding a national service in recognition of his life and ministry.

The Archbishop of Wales, Andrew John, will lead the service. 

In 1123, St Davids was granted a privilege from Pope Callixtus II in Rome who stated that two pilgrimages to St Davids were equivalent to one journey to Rome. 
Though pilgrims had been travelling to St Davids since the time of Dewi Sant himself in the 6th Century, this papal endorsement led to a surge in pilgrims visiting the Cathedral. Today, it continues to be a popular pilgrimage centre, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

The bilingual service on July 25th coincides with the Feast of St James, the patron saint of pilgrims. It is part of a year-long series of events commemorating this significant anniversary and will be attended by all the bishops from the Church in Wales along with representatives from other churches, faiths and organisations across Wales.

Guests will be welcomed as "pilgrims on life’s journey." A special highlight will be a performance by the choir, premiering a commissioned piece called Cyfod Bererin (Rise Pilgrim) by Welsh composer Meirion Wynn Jones with words penned by Dr Sarah Rowland Jones, Dean of St Davids. Later in the service, another piece titled The Pilgrimage by Welsh composer Neil Cox will be performed.

Dr Sarah Rowland Jones expressed her anticipation for this unique event: "We are looking forward immensely to welcoming people from far and wide for this special anniversary service which marks the high point in our year of celebration for St David."

She further highlighted St David's teachings as being particularly resonant today: "His teaching –‘Byddwch lawen, cadwch y ffydd, a gwnewch y pethau bychain – be joyful, keep the faith, and do the little things’ - remains a powerful moral compass for people of all faiths and none, particularly as we seek our way through life’s uncertain times."

The Dean also emphasised how pilgrimage can spur inner spiritual journeys and promote mental and physical health. She concluded: "People coming to St Davids so often find themselves profoundly touched by being in this sacred space...the Shrine should be seen less as the destination but rather as a signpost encouraging us closer to Dewi’s God and ours."

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