Following a blessing at the end of the 8am Mass our 13 pilgrims set out on their week long Augustine Camino pilgrimage on Sunday 16th July. They travelled by coach to Rochester, from where, following a tour of Rochester Cathedral, they set out at 1.30pm to walk to Aylesford Priory, arriving around 4.45pm, in time to join the Friars in their evening prayers. Over the next 7 days they will walk all the way to Ramsgate, via Canterbury. Here you can follow their journey each day in photos.
Day 2 began with morning prayers with the Friars at 8am, followed by a pilgrims’ breakfast. The morning was spent at the Priory, with confessions and then Mass at midday. We left the Priory at 1.25pm to walk to the village of Thurnham, a 9 mile walk through vineyards and fields (and at one point crossing over a motorway). While walking we prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet and the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, as well as singing hymns, finishing with vespers shortly before arriving at our destination.
Day 3, walking from Thurnham to Doddington, a 16 mile walk though and around fields of barley and apple and cherry orchards and starting with Mass at St Peter’s at Bearsted …
Day 4. Today we walked 8.5 miles from Doddington to Faversham, visiting Doddington village church which is dedicated to The Beheading of John the Baptist. Inside the church, on the north chancel wall, is a thirteenth century painting in red ochre of St Francis. We also visited the churches of St Peter and St Paul in Newnham where we prayed midday prayers. Our walk took us through and around fields of wheat and grass.
Day 5 began with morning prayers followed by Mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Faversham, followed by a visit to the Shrine of St Jude, located next to the Church. We were surprised to see a fox saunter across the car park! Our walk from Faversham to Canterbury was supposed to be 11.5 miles, but ended up being over 16 as we lost our way. It seems that Thursday is St Christopher’s day off, but St Anthony came to our aid in the form of a local resident out walking her dog. She was surprised to find a large pilgrimage group outside her house and helpfully walked with us to set us on our way. Our walk today took us mainly through woodland and the occasional field of wheat and an apple orchard. It began to rain as we walked through a field of wheat following our lunch break but we soon had the shelter of woodland (where we got lost). We were surprised to find two bulls in one field we had to walk through (quickly) and some pigs. We prayed the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet on the way and Sebastian led us singing hymns, bringing happy smiles to the faces of people we passed along the way. Our walk culminated walking through the pedestrianised streets of Canterbury singing Hail Holy Queen Enthroned Above which created a great deal of interest from shoppers and diners! We then gathered on the grass beside the Cathedral for evening prayers before retiring to our evening’s accommodation.
Day 6 began with morning prayers in the garden of the Youth Hostel where we had spent the night. We then walked to the Cathedral where we spent some time. We saw the burning candle marking the spot where the Shrine of St Thomas of Canterbury stood from 1220 to 1538 when it was destroyed by order of King Henry VIII. At midday we attended Mass at the nearby Catholic Church and Shrine of St Thomas of Canterbury. This was the first Catholic Church to be legally opened in England following the reformation. St Thomas’s also houses two relics of St Thomas Becket, which were able to venerate after Mass. The Mass also happened to be the requiem Mass for a late parishioner. After Mass we ate our lunch in the church garden before heading off to the ruins of St Augustine’s Abbey. After walking round the ruins we made a late start (14.45) on the next leg of our pilgrimage journey, to Stodmarsh. When we were close to Stodmarsh those of us who were to spend the night at the convent at Minster Abbey were collected and taken by car to Minster. The campers carried on into Stodmarsh and from there to their camp site at Hatcher’s Farm, Preston, arriving in the dark. Another 16 mile day for the campers, and 12 miles for those staying at Minster Abbey.
Day 7 was our final day of walking, when we walked to St Augustine’s Shrine in Ramsgate. For those of us who had spent the night at Minster Abbey, the day began (after breakfast) with morning prayers with the sisters at 8am in the convent chruch. Morning prayers were immediately followed by Mass after which we were driven to All Saints Church in West Stourmough to meet up with the campers and begin the day’s 13 mile walk to Ramsgate, via Minster where we stopped at the Abby tearooms for a late lunch (around 2pm). The walk to Minster was difficult as we struggled to make our way along overgrown paths, at times stumbling through undergrowth as tall as the more vertically challenged amongst us. It was impossible to see the ground we were walking on, leading to one or two stumbles, and a fall into a hole! Happily there were no injuries. We eventually arrived at the Abbey in Minster around 2pm, by when it had started to rain. The rain continued for the rest of the day, so we arrived at St Augustine’s Shrine wet and bedraggled but in excellent spirits!
Day 8, the day of our return to Bournemouth. We all attended midday Latin Mass at the St Augustine’s Shrine Church, after which our mini bus arrived to take us back to Bournemouth, where we arrived at 17.40, in good time for Benediction at 18.00.
And to finish, some random photos taken during the week: