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Celebrating Year of Cathedrals, Year of Pilgrimage at Chester

Whether you come as a visitor or as a pilgrim you are very welcome to explore the quiet, sacred space within this 11th century cathedral. Chester Cathedral was founded upon a Benedictine monastery where prayer was at the heart of the lives of the monks. As you enter this cathedral you walk into a place where ‘prayer has been valid’ for over 1000 years.  This year Chester Cathedral joins with churches in Chester diocese in the theme of ‘Pilgrimage’ along with all cathedrals which are united under the theme of the ‘2020 The Year of Pilgrimage’. As you enter from the cloisters through the cathedral door and step into the nave, you will be following in the footsteps of multitudes of worshippers, visitors and pilgrims. May you find rest and the peace of God in this place.

Canon Jane Brooke
Vice Dean and Canon Missioner,
Chester Cathedral


“Pilgrimage has formed part of 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.

Cathedrals are increasingly becoming such special places because they offer peace, beauty, and a chance to pause and reflect along the way. The new Pilgrim Passport encourages everyone to find their own meaning though visiting these amazing buildings.

In Christianity, pilgrimage can mean our journey through life, visiting holy places, and an inner journey of prayer– or all three at once. Becoming a pilgrim may be planned or may just happen. We can walk, cycle, ride on horseback – or arrive by car, bus or train. Being a pilgrim doesn’t depend on the distance or the way we travel, but on our inner openness to being found by God”

Dr Dee Dyas
Reader in the History of Christianity and
Director of the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture and
the Centre for Pilgrimage Studies at the University of York


Cathedrals in the north west

Once you’ve visited Chester, and purchased your Pilgrim Passport, visit some of the other cathedrals close-by. Be sure to get your passport stamped at each cathedral you visit.


Cathedral Close, Ewood, Blackburn BB1 5AA
Blackburn Cathedral is warm, welcoming, and full of light, which changes with the time and the seasons. Streaming through the stained glass in the Lantern Tower, it can sometimes look as if the building is on fire.

It is the newest of English Cathedrals, completed in 1977, but standing on an ancient Christian site with almost 1500 years of continuous worship. A number of the many modern artworks throughout the building reflect the weaving and industrial heritage of Lancashire. These include Christ the Worker and the hanging Corona, both by John Hayward.

The Cathedral owns a rare 15th Century Pax, a small gilt tablet engraved with Mary standing on a crescent moon holding the infant Jesus. It would have been kissed by priest and congregation at the moment of the peace in the Mass. Almost all were destroyed at the Reformation, and only eight are known to have survived in this country. The Blackburn Pax was hidden in a gravestone and discovered in 1820 when the present Cathedral nave was built. A large, almost human-sized replica hangs in the south transept, where it is a focus for prayer.



St James Mount, Liverpool L1 7AZ
In a cathedral of many treasures one highlight is the Great West Window. It is based on the Benedicite, an ancient Christian hymn of praise for God’s creation. Beneath the window is Tracey Emin’s neon sign ‘For You’ with its powerful words, “I Felt You And I Knew You Loved me.” This treasure can best be viewed from the Dulverton Bridge, which offers a magnificent view for the pilgrim of this thought-provoking combination of art work.

Professor Ben Quash has written of Emin’s ‘For You’: “you can read the words from left to right, like a sentence, or from the outer panels towards the centre, like a traditional painted triptych (a three-sectioned painting). For You has three units: ‘I Felt You’; ‘And I Knew’; You Loved Me’. If you read it like a sentence, the ‘I’ is the main agent, and ‘You Loved Me’ becomes the description of something that the ‘I’ has discovered. If you read this work like a triptych—towards the middle—something different happens. Another agency has makes itself felt. The ‘I’ of ‘I Felt You’ and the ‘You’ of ‘You Loved me’ meet. They meet in a moment of recognition. Perhaps even of faith. ‘And I Knew’”.

Liverpool Cathedral is a place of encounter, and we pray that everyone who comes into this place of worship will encounter the God who knows and loves them.

Looking east from the Dulverton Bridge gives an uninterrupted view across the vast Main Space and the Chancel of Britain’s largest Cathedral. In its extravagant area and volume the Cathedral powerfully bears witness that our God is more than worthy of this much space in the heart of a densely-populated and vibrant city.

Tucked away in the far corner of the Cathedral is the beautiful Lady Chapel, dedicated to Mary, the mother of Jesus. The first part of the Cathedral to be completed, it also contains a moving memorial to women from this country who died serving in the First World War. The Lady Chapel has a number of stained-glass windows and a memorial commemorating the pioneering contribution of women whose Christian faith moved them to make a positive difference to the lives of others. An inspiration to us all!



Victoria Street, Manchester M3 1SX
The Misericords of Manchester Cathedral

One of the not-to-be-missed features of Manchester Cathedral is the area known as the Quire, with its dark oak carvings which form the choir stalls. They were carved in the late 15th or early 16th century and include amazing amounts of fine detail; carved animals, birds, leaves, flowers, faces and angels in addition to delicate, decorative tracery. In each stall there is a tip up seat known as a misericord. The word “misericord” comes from the word ‘misericordia’ meaning pity or mercy. There are fifteen misericords on either side of the Quire and they are all different. The scenes depicted are not necessarily religious and the subject of one misericord is usually totally different from the one next to it; it would appear that the carver was free to choose subjects that inspired him.

The St Mary Window in Manchester Cathedral

The circle, which dominates the window, is the ancient Christian symbol of perfection. It is marred by the death of Jesus in the form of a shaft of light or the sword. This is a direct reference to the prophecy of Simeon to the Blessed Virgin at the time of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple: “A sword shall pierce through your own soul also”. This destroys the perfection of the circle, which is compensated for visually by the arcs of red and yellow. These radii restore the symmetry required for formal and design purposes.

There are seven shades of blue within the circle, blue being a colour traditionally associated with St Mary the Virgin. The circle contains a serpent and is placed upon blocks of colour associated with the Virgin Mary. Superimposed upon these blocks are letters which are essentially to create a pattern; they may, however, be reassembled to read verses from the Magnificat from left to right.


25 High St, Saint Asaph LL17 0RD
St Asaph is the smallest ancient cathedral in England and Wales (founded c.560), and often described as a ‘hidden gem’. It is intimate and simple: visitors often comment on its warm, light openness. Its attractions range from the fifteenth-century canopied choir stalls to fine modern sculptures by local craftsmen.

We are especially proud of our Welsh location, and the Welsh language is a regular part of our life and worship. One of our treasures is Bishop William Morgan’s 1588 translation of the Bible, now on display with other books that enabled the Welsh people to worship in their own language for the first time. These form the centrepiece of an interactive exhibition showcasing the history of the cathedral over the centuries. Modern-day visitors and pilgrims can also be sure of a hospitable welcome in the new ‘Caffi’r Cyfieithwyr’ (Translators’ Tearoom).