Pilgrims from across the country have made their annual Easter journey to the National Shrine of our Lady at Walsingham this week.
On their way, they have provided many parishioners and people who see them as a reminder of the true meaning behind the Christian festival.
It is organised by Student Cross which is the longest running annual pilgrimage in Britain, beginning in 1948 and is walked by students, graduates and families.
Walsingham has been a destination of pilgrimage since the Middle Ages and, until the Reformation, was one of the biggest pilgrimage sites in the world.
This year the pilgrimage will be made up of 11 groups or ‘legs’ who walk to Walsingham to meet and celebrate the Easter weekend; each leg carries a large wooden cross as a visible witness to their Christian faith.
Mark Jordan, national director of Student Cross for 2014, said: “For most people, Easter is a break from school, a double bank holiday, Easter bunnies or egg hunts. For both pilgrims themselves and the people we meet it is a reminder that Jesus’ sacrifice and His message of love is more important than ever.
Around 275 pilgrims of all ages and diverse backgrounds have experienced a week of fun, friendship and freedom, with the occasional blister thrown in for good measure. Six of the 11 groups – or ‘legs’ – walked up to 130 miles, staying overnight in church and village halls, while two legs walk a shorter week for those unable to make this larger commitment.
Mr Jordan added: “Pilgrimage is a fantastic way to put our modern lives into perspective, it gives us the opportunity to take a step back from the hectic pace of life and reflect on those things that really matter to us. With the basic requirements of food and shelter met, we are freed from the everyday pressures of work or study, and able to relax into friendships old and new, while enjoying the beauty of the countryside that we are privileged to walk through while reassessing our relationship with God.
“One of the most touching things about the journey is meeting those that help us on our way. Their generosity – both practical and spiritual – is what makes our walk possible, and being welcomed by familiar faces who value our presence as a key part of their Easter preparations is a genuinely humbling experience.
“However many times a pilgrim joins us, they will find some fresh meaning in their journey some new experience. Although we are only together for a short period of time each year, the experience reaches far beyond that and for many people is genuinely life changing. Although we only carry the cross for a week, we carry the experience in our hearts throughout the year.”