Winter weather can't help pilgrims

FEW people will forget this year s Easter Monday Pilgrimage to St Albans Abbey after snow drove them into the nave for their picnics. The unseasonal weather meant that picnics and activities in the Abbey Orchard traditionally held before the Pilgrimage co

FEW people will forget this year's Easter Monday Pilgrimage to St Albans Abbey after snow drove them into the nave for their picnics.

The unseasonal weather meant that picnics and activities in the Abbey Orchard traditionally held before the Pilgrimage could not go ahead so the pilgrims poured into the nave with their flasks and sandwiches and picnicked there instead.

But despite the conditions, nearly as many pilgrims as usual turned up at the annual event which is a high spot in the St Albans diocese calendar.

Poignant


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And it was particularly poignant this year because the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Rev Christopher Herbert, was giving the blessing for the final time before his retirement.

Father Darren Collins, who was among the clergy officiating at the Pilgrimage, said there was a lovely atmosphere this year with the snow adding a new dimension to it.

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He added: "It was one of those years people will remember for ages to come. The weather didn't affect people's willingness to join in."

The theme of this year's pilgrimage was One More Step and everyone had to take their shoes off in the Abbey and cut around their footprints to wave the cut-outs at the service.

And the singing of hymns was boosted when around half-a-dozen well-behaved dogs with their owners in the Nave joined in.

Fr Collins said: "Even though it is held in the cathedral it is a really relaxed service so the pomp and ceremony is down to a minimum."

At least one pilgrim took the theme literally and went one more step to get there - a man from Watford chose to run to the Abbey, leaving the town at 2pm to get there in time for the Eucharist.

Fr Collins added: "The spirits of pilgrims are naturally up before they set off. Some have been coming for the last 30 years and on the service sheet were next year's dates.

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