Anglicans Online banner
Independent On the web since 1994 More than 9500 links Updated every Sunday

AO search


Start Here
Anglicans Believe ...
The Prayer Book
The Bible

News Centre
News Archive
Newspapers Online
Official Publications

Resources A to Z, including
 Biblical Study
 Book of Common Prayer
 Books and Magazines
 Religious Orders

Worldwide Anglicanism
Anglican Communion
In Full Communion
Not in the Communion

Dioceses and Parishes
New Zealand

Anglicans Online

Add a Site to AO
Tell Us What You Think
Link to AO

Awards and Publicity
Beginnings, AO Today
Our Sponsors

©2001 The Society of
Archbishop Justus, Ltd


Hallo again to all.

Aerial photograph of JerusalemThe news this week includes stories about the Archbishop of Canterbury's visit to Jerusalem. Last year Pope John Paul II visited there. In the year AD 333, someone known as 'the anonymous pilgrim of Bordeaux' left the oldest surviving written record of such a pilgrimage. Since then, there have been well-documented visits by Egeria, Arculf, Nasir-i-Khusraw, Marco Polo, Henry Timberlake, Lady Stanhope, Mark Twain, and thousands more. Millions more have made the pilgrimage without writing about it, except perhaps to their families. One might even view the Crusades as a form of pilgrimage.

Although the Holy Land vied with Rome and Santiago in the Middle Ages as a top pilgrimage place, Jerusalem took first honours, perhaps partly because Jerusalem represents both the actual and the heavenly, the spiritual centre of the earth.

In the Middle Ages a pilgrimage was often a means of earning merit points to erase sins (think Tannhauser), but surely there were times when pilgrims (albeit mostly those with money) merely wanted to see, walk, sleep, touch, and live amongst the boundaries of the world of Our Lord. If motives were pure, journeys were arduous, vulnerable to thieves and predators, dotted with dirty and overpriced hostels, and subject to the merciless elements of nature. Pilgrims came from farther away than we might realise: a stone in Sweden bears the eleventh-century inscription: 'Estrid had this stone raised for her husband Osten; he went to Jerusalem and died abroad in the land of the Greeks'. For those who could not go the distance, treading labyrinths in cathedrals became a sort of Pilgrimage Lite.

But what is it about an actual visit to the Holy Land that is so eternally magnetic? In about AD 600, a man named Sophronius wrote a poem that included these lines*

Holy City of God,
Jerusalem, how I long to stand
even now at your gates,
and go in, rejoicing!

Let me walk thy pavements
and go inside the Anastasis,
where the King of All rose again,
trampling down the power of death.

I will venerate the sweet floor,
and gaze on the holy Cube,
and the great four ...
... like the heavens.

Blessings of salvation, like rivers
pour from that Rock where Mary
handmaid of God, childbearing for all men,
was laid out in death.

Hail, Sion, radiant Sun of the universe!
Night and day I long and yearn for thee.

There, after shattering hell,
and liberating the dead,
the King of All, the Shatterer
appeared there, the Friend.

Ancient woodcut of JerusalemIn much writing about Jerusalem, the boundaries of earth and heaven become blurred: Jerusalem the blest ... there Our Lady sings Magnificat ... milk and honey ... jewelled streets ... Place? Or dream? Both.

Jerusalem is that country at the end of our earthly pilgrimage. And what better travel guide than Mr Valiant-for-Truth in Pilgrim's Progress? On the day he realises he is to die, he says to his friends:

'I am going to my Father's; and though with great difficulty I am got hither, yet now I do not repent me of all the trouble I have been at to arrive where I am. My sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage; and my courage and skill to him that can get it. My marks and scars I carry with me, to be a witness for me that I have fought his battles who now will be my Rewarder'.

When the day that he must go hence was come, many accompanied him to the riverside; into which as he went he said, 'Death, where is thy sting?' And as he went down deeper, he said, 'Grave, where is thy victory?' So he passed over; and all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side.

And there is no better end to a pilgrimage than that.

We are delighted to feature in New This Week more parishes in the USA than you could ever make a pilgrimage to (thanks again to Mimi Bennett-Aronson), a number of interesting reads in Worth Noting, and a scattering of other Anglican-related web sites well worth your time to visit.

We thought briefly about opening this week's letter like this:

Hi! How are you?
I send you this file in order to have your advice

and then closing with:

See you later. Thanks

That is the signature of the SirCam virus. We at Anglicans Online were sent more than 100 copies of the SirCam virus last week. Though it didn't infect our computers, we worry that a number of our readers' computers are blighted with this dreadful thing. If you use a PC rather than a Mac, you should check the Symantec or McAfee pages on this virus, even if you think you escaped it.

See you next week.

Cynthia McFarland's signature
Brian Reid's signature
Cynthia McFarland
Brian Reid

*Translation by John Wilkinson, from Jerusalem Pilgrims before the Crusades, 1977.

Last updated: 29 July 2001