Town has potential to be 'major pilgrimage destination once again'

The ruins of the Abbey of St Edmunds, which celebrates its 1000th anniversary in 2020 Picture: TOM

A Pilgrimage Day has been announced for Bury St Edmunds. Pictured are the abbey gardens - Credit: Tom Soper

Bury St Edmunds could once again become a popular centre of pilgrimage, those attending a special day of talks and discussion will find out.

As part of the Abbey 1000 celebrations in the town, plans for a Pilgrimage Day on Wednesday, April 6, have been announced.

Pilgrims have been coming to Bury St Edmunds for more than 1,000 years. The shrine of Saint Edmund in the town attracted pilgrims from this country and all over Europe until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539.

Starting at St Edmundsbury Cathedral, the Pilgrimage Day will be a chance to re-discover Bury St Edmunds as a place of pilgrimage, explore how it could once again become a popular centre of pilgrimage and the impact this would have on the town.

The day, from 9.30am to 5pm, will include talks, panel discussion and practical information on pilgrimages past, present and future routes leading to Bury St Edmunds.

Throughout the day, which is free to attend, participants will move to different locations for each part of the programme, culminating in a short service in the abbey ruins.

The Pilgrimage Day, which is free to attend, will feature guest speakers

The Pilgrimage Day, which is free to attend, will feature guest speakers - Credit: Abbey 1000 C.I.C

Among the guest speakers will be: Dr Rebecca Pinner, associate professor in medieval literature at University of East Anglia; Guy Hayward, of the British Pilgrimage Trust; Adrian Tindall, chairman of Bury St Edmunds Tour Guides; and Canon Peter Doll, from Norwich Cathedral.

Two new pilgrimage resources, funded with support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, will also be launched on the day including 'Pilgrim Paths’ featuring 10 ideas for pilgrimage routes leading to Bury St Edmunds.

Libby Ranzetta, chair of Abbey 1000 C.I.C, which is organising the 1,000th anniversary celebrations, said: “Pilgrimage is enjoying a resurgence in popularity, as people seek more contemplative, meaningful and environmentally sustainable activities.

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"Bury St Edmunds, in the midst of Suffolk's great network of footpaths and with so much offer in the town and surrounding area, has the potential to be a major pilgrimage destination once again.

"On April 6 we will celebrate Bury's historical significance as a centre of European pilgrimage and explore how we can best encourage more modern-day pilgrims to turn their walking boots towards Suffolk.”

Participants can join particular sessions which interest them. A soup lunch is optional but must be pre-booked. Donations (suggested £5) can be made on the day.

Walking between venues is encouraged. For those requiring it, transport can be provided by Bury St Edmunds Rickshaw (free of charge).

Booking is essential. For further information and to book visit the website.