Northern Cross pilgrimage

The annual Christian cross–carrying Pilgrimage to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne takes  place once again,  during the week before Easter. From April 16 to the 24, more than 75 pilgrims will journey through various parts of Northumberland and the Scottish Borders, in seven groups, known as 'Legs'.

Five legs will walk around 80 – 120 miles during Holy Week; while there is also one family leg based around a single location. Another leg is walking unsupported from Iona on the west coast over two weeks.

Each leg carries a life-size wooden cross as a sign of Christian witness. They stay in church and  village halls along the route, and join in with people of local churches for worship. The legs will gather  together on 22 April, Good Friday, to cross the tidal sands on the Pilgrims Crossing to the Holy Island  of Lindisfarne, Northumberland for a unique celebration of Easter, finishing on Easter Sunday afternoon.

Ruth Wallace, Overall Coordinator of Northern Cross 2011, said: “Northern Cross is a unique  experience, a week of fellowship which is tremendously enriching as we share in a common journey  of pilgrimage together. We come from many different backgrounds, denominations and ages, leaving the normality of everyday life, to enjoy some occasionally strenuous walking, new fellowships, and joyful liturgy. Linked by our enthusiasm for walking through beautiful countryside, we constantly grow  in many ways as we meet new people along the way, parishioners, passers-by, publicans, and all, sharing prayer, worship and song, and having a really good time.”

“People think of pilgrimage as a mediaeval idea, yet the idea of Christian pilgrimage is alive and well  today, as can be witnessed by the 6 million people who go to Lourdes each year, or the countless thousands who in the last 30 years have resurrected the month long walk along the Camino di  Santiago, from the Pyrenees to North West Spain. Northern Cross is another example of this. On  pilgrimage we find ourselves divested of possessions, just requiring whatever can be carried in a  small bag. Cut down to bare essentials, we see ourselves stripped of all trappings of civilisation. We look for meaning in life as we travel through it, and a pilgrimage is a chance to mirror life, and at the  same time to step back from life and look to see what the important things are.”

She added: “Northern Cross, and any walking pilgrimage, is a chance to get away from the world, to  figuratively carry your house on your back, to have time to commune with nature. The destination  itself is not so important alone – it is a goal – but the important thing is to form a small Christian group of people, travelling together on the road, using each others skills, helping each others weaknesses, working as a team to achieve an aim. It is an important part of experiencing the Easter celebration.”

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Tags: Holy Island, Lindisfarne, Northern Cross, Pilgrimage

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