Between Monday 11 October and Tuesday 19 October this year we opened the Cathedral to over 570 school children to become pilgrims for the day. This year we offered six days instead of the usual four so that we could accommodate all the schools that requested their year 5 or year 6 children to be able to attend back in June.
All the children followed three mobile tours which were situated around the Cathedral. In the Refectory they dressed as monks and had a very small breakfast (piece of bread and a drink of apple juice) with the Abbott. They discovered a little bit about what it was like to be a monk and especially the vow of silence.
In the Lady Chapel the pilgrims met and listened to St Werburgh; they heard about her story and what a pilgrimage is. They had the opportunity to dress up as a pilgrim and they all carried a shell the symbol still used today that pilgrims wear.
In the children’s chapel they thought about prayer, why we pray and the different types of prayer. They made an ACTS bracelet to remind them of the types of prayer (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication.) The prayers that they wrote went onto the prayer tree and were prayed over in the final act of worship.
At lunchtime the children were able to listen to and see the organ demonstrated from the highest note and smallest pipe to the lowest sounds using the peddle board. They listened intently to Alex Palotai describe what they were about to hear, and they watched and listened to all the sounds and music that Philip Rushforth demonstrated so magnificently. The children’s eyes lit up at the unusual sounds and at the music they knew. The children were able to see the keyboards and the peddle board as they were played along with some of the workings of the organ due to all the cameras screen and microphones that Mike Bolderson put up for the demonstrations.
For the other part of the day the children were able to take part in a workshop that helped them think about what a monk might have looked like and some of the activites they may have done. The workshops that the children took part in over the six days were make a pilgrim’s purse, create an acetate stained glass window, be a chorister and sing some of the music that the monks may have sung, create a sugar craft monk, think about were they and their school fits in their community and the place of the cathedral and together create a collage of this or create a mosaic tile. These workshops give the children time to reflect on what they have seen and heard time to talk to each other and the workshop leaders as they are creative.
The day was finished with a short act of worship where the choristers for the day sang to everyone. There was a short talk and some prayers and then the candles and certificates were given out.
Throughout the week 25 volunteers enabled Pilgrim Days to happen. They have worked tirelessly with the children, some were able to help for one or two days but most did four to six days. Pilgrim Days cannot happen without the enormous help and support of the volunteers. This year has had more challenges than previous years trying to keep all the activities as safe as possible. Thank you to all involved.