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pilgrim passport at Bradford Cathedral1.jpg
pilgrim passport at Bradford Cathedral1.jpg
Church News

'Pilgrim Passports' issued to encourage Cathedral visitors on spiritual journey

by Heather Preston

The British Pilgrims Trust has developed a range of 'Pilgrim Passports' for those visiting Church of England Cathedrals.

It comes as part of the national campaign '2020 Year of Cathedrals, Year of Pilgrimage' aimed to encourage more people to make pilgrimages to spiritual sites.

The booklets will be available to buy at all Church of England Cathedrals and contain a checklist of spiritual sites to tick off.

Pilgrims can document their religious visits, receiving a specially-designed stamp at each Cathedral.

The concept was created by Sarah Page, education officer at Portsmouth Cathedral, and Jackie Holderness, education officer at Christ Church, Oxford.

Holderness told Premier the pair were inspired by the National Trust's passports: "We thought it would be wonderful to do something similar, but to encourage families and individuals to visit sacred sites, especially our cathedrals which are so important as part of our spiritual and cultural heritage."

The passports, developed by the Association of English Cathedrals, feature an image of a different venue on each double page spread, together with inspirational prayers, quotes on pilgrimage and space for users to write down their personal reflections.

"It's a lifetime passport, that people who enjoy visiting sacred spaces can add to as they journey through their life," Holderness added.

Holderness says the scheme will help Cathedrals engage with visitors on a more spiritual level. 

"Even if they have arrived as tourists and strangers, they may feel like pilgrims when they leave," she said. "We want all our visitors to develop and grow their own pilgrim heart."

Dr Dee Dyas, director of the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture, and director for Pilgrimage Studies at York University, explained that pilgrimage has been a significant practice for "almost every faith through the centuries" and "increasing numbers of people today are finding the idea of being a pilgrim very appealing - whether they consider themselves 'religious' or not. 

"All of us can relate to seeing our lives as a journey, enhanced by special places with special meaning.
 
"The new Pilgrim Passport encourages everyone to find their own meaning though visiting these amazing buildings," she added. 

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