May, June and July Parish Pilgrimage

Dear brothers and sisters: Christ is Risen!

This Saturday – 20th May –  will see a band of pilgrims head to Glastonbury, meeting at Bride’s Mount in Beckery, on the edge of the town, at 10:00, celebrating a moleben to St Brigid.

Before the drainage of the Somerset Levels, Beckery – this area on the edge of Glastonbury – was an island in the tidal marshes along the River Brue, and Bride’s Mound was crowned with a monastic house. This monastic dwelling, dedicated to St Mary Magdalene,  was associated with Irish monastics travelling to Glastonbury – the primary monastery of ancient Britain – and Glastonbury lore and tradition, lists St Brigid as one of the Irish saints who visited and stayed here.

After the moleben at Bride’s Mound, we will head into town to the abbey, with the ruins of the once great religious foundation in its green acres of gardens. This will be an excellent place to refresh ourselves physically as well as spiritually, and the visitors’ centre has excellent educational resources.

The abbey grounds once contained the women’s alms-houses that were associated with St Patrick’s Chapel, and St Margaret’s Hospital with its men’s alms-houses nearby in Magdalen St, is another place for pilgrims to visit.

Our parish’s seasoned Glastonbury pilgrims enjoy visiting the Rose Garden – a wonderful little shop next to the parish church – from which we usually emerge with books, icons and Orthodox supplies.

As we head towards Chalice Well and the Tor, we can visit the fine neighbouring medieval church, which has been decluttered and restored over the last few years, so that we can now appreciate the beauty of the building, without the Victorian clutter that once made it difficult to see.

Chalice Well is very much a product of romance and legend, with its very creative association between St Joseph of Arimathea and the medieval well from which the iron-rich waters flow. Regardless of the new-age and alternative activities that happen within its environs, it remains a place of peace, relaxation, beauty and tranquillity – with a spring with beneficial waters.

Chalice Hill, from which the well flows is nestled next to Glastonbury Tor, the dramatic conical hill on which an ancient monastery stood – in whose excavation Fr Luke was involved in its excavation in the late 1960’s. In the middle-ages, the church of St Michael was built, with its surviving tower crowning the Tor.

The rural-life museum in the abbey barn is close by, and pilgrims may also wish to make a visit.

We look forward to our day in Avalon!

Looking forward to June, we shall be making a pilgrimage to Pennant Melangell on June 10th (the day after the feast of St Melangell). Given its distance from Cardiff, several parishioners having arranged to camp nearby. On the night of Friday June 9th.

The church in Pennant Melangell is built on the ancient site of the ancient monastery over which St Melangell presided as abbess, and houses her relics in the shrine where we will celebrate our pilgrim Liturgy.

This will be a very special pilgrimage, given the shrine and relics of St Melangell at the heart of the church, and we look forward to it.

Any potential pilgrims should contact Tracy:

From July 24-27th, group of ROCOR parishioners will be travelling to Walsingham, ‘England’s Nazareth’, enjoying the hospitality of  the South Wales Anglican Pilgrimage, after Fr Dean’s invitation to join the pilgrimage once more.

The accommodation cost is £225, and the cost for those wishing to travel on the coach is £370. Any more interested parties should contact me, Norman or Georgina as soon as possible

On a non-pilgrimage note, please remember that our Ascension Day Liturgy will be celebrated in Nazareth House at 11:00 on Thursday May 25th.

In Christ – Fr Mark

From Glastonbury…

Dear brothers and sisters,

It has been very good to be able to rest, pray and read in Glastonbury, spending much of yesterday in the abbey and the gardens at Chalice Well with its iron-rich spring waters flowing through the beautiful gardens at the foot of Chalice Hill.

Glastonbury Abbey, a short distance away, claimed the presence, long-stays, pilgimage-visits and relics of many saints, but whether the great monastic house was ever visited by all the saints that the annals claimed, we shall never know, just as we shall never know the voracity of the many relics the monks claimed to possess – some in direct opposition to other claimant-establishments.

Around the margins of the Glastonbury Icon of the Mother of God, we see many Celtic saints that link Ireland, Wales, Brittany and Somerset – y Gwlad yr Haf – together with the Archangel Michael, St Aristobulus and St Joseph of Arimathea.

The monastic preeminence of Glastonbury Abbey, and its centrality in the growth of Christianity in this part of the British Isles is undeniable, and given the great importance of Glastonbury, it should not surprise us that such eminent saints as David, Patrick and Brigid should be linked with what came to be called Glastonbury with the coming of the English, but was still Ynys Witrin in the age of our great Celtic saints.   

As sanctuaries of holiness, culture and learning, the great religious houses of their time were not islands and isolated, but closely interlinked and connected by the much-sailed sea-roads on which monastics – saints among them – visited one another’s communities. Glastonbury was of course an island at that time, making it particularly accessible for those coming from South Wales, with its great religious centres at Llancarfan, Llanilltud-Fawr.

Even though there is now so little to see of the greatest English Abbey that claimed precedence over every other monastic establishment in Britain, and whose abbot sat in the House of Lords, people are still drawn to the ruins, though many through a concocted belief system of their own making.

Yet, whatever people may believe, their coming and going (and I’ve encountered people that repeatedly and regularly come from the far corners of the world) means that the site is loved and cared for, even though it sometimes feels like the Anglican custodians of the ruined abbey have consciously tried to quash any manifestation of spirituality and piety since the millennium: quite ironic considering what the millennium marked.

But, praise God, the site is preserved, even if one can only wonder at the glory of the once great abbey that stood here, and equally wonder at the wanton violence and demonic acts of those who desecrated the great sanctuary on England’s holiest earth. Whilst, in Walsingham England has its Nazareth, in Glastonbury the whole of Britain had its Jerusalem.

Gone are the dazzling colours of gold, paint, jewels and enamel which once adorned the shrines and their treasured relics, but now the colours of nature shine here, especially in autumn.

The abbey has a great many species of trees, soon to be resplendent in their autumn colours, and the flower and herb beds still manage a few flowers after the passing of summer.

I always say to those put off Glastonbury by the New-Age, occult, and and do-it-yourself-pseudo-religious commercially lucrative rubbish, to not be robbed of our holiest site by these works of darkness.

I recall seeing a documentary on the growth of occultism in Glastonbury when I was a teenager, with the camera looking down on the town form the tower of St John’s Church, and its vicar saying what no Anglican incumbent in the town would dare to say now – that the cosmic battle between good and evil is going on right here in this little Somerset town.

This is why must come!

We must come to worship, pray and venerate the holy sites, as I have been doing since I was a teenager – back then, sometimes with the most wonderfully devout friends on the West of England Pilgrimage – a very English, but also very Anglo-Catholic and in-your-face (with all of the senses) demonstration of Christianity.

Much has changed since then. The obvious Christian presence is much diminished, despite the imposing Catholic Parish Church, served by Benedictine monks.

Christianity seems very much in the shadows… which is why we MUST come, honouring the Mother of God in the place of her first British shrine, with David, Patrick, Brigid, Collen, Rumon, Fili, Kea, Indract, Dominica, Beon, Gildas the Wise, Dunstan, and all of the saints who shone forth in Glastonbury.

May they pray for us and for this confused and suffering holy-place.