A pilgrimage is, of course, an expedition to some venerated place to which a vivid memory of sacred things experienced, or a long and wonderful history of human experience in divine matters, or a personal attraction affecting the soul impels one.
In our current culture characterized by speed and consumption, the idea of a pilgrimage can be a foreign one. And yet it is just this experience of the foreign that gives the pilgrimage its unique power. Even if your destination is something you have seen every day of your life, the pilgrimage may allow you to see it in a new way, perhaps even to really see it for the first time.
The pilgrim must be open to the landscape and people he might encounter on the way. It is a higher form of travel: not undertaken simply to get from point A to point B in the most convenient manner possible. The journey itself takes on a significance, representing the life of the follower of Christ; a life that, God willing, ends in a holy place.
Our students had the opportunity to experience a pilgrimage first hand. To celebrate the bicentennial jubilee for the Diocese of Richmond, Pope Francis granted an indulgence to those who make a pilgrimage to the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. At eight o’clock in the morning, therefore, on December 1st, the students and teachers of Cardinal Newman Academy set out from our campus to walk over eight miles to the seat of the Bishop of our Diocese.
The students look out over the James River as they cross the Nickel Bridge.
Our route led us over the Nickel Bridge and into Maymont park where we stopped for a while to rest before setting out on the final stretch. The students walked with good spirit, but they were decidedly grateful when the Cathedral came into view.
We arrived in time to attend 12:05 Mass. After Mass, Father Anthony Marques, the rector, spoke to the students about the history, architecture, and art of the Cathedral. The students were especially interested to view the stone from the Garden of Gethsemane, which is embedded in the front interior wall.
Two students stand on either side of the rock from Gethsemane.
After exploring the wonders of the beautiful Cathedral, we headed back (driving this time!) to our school and I’m sure the students all slept very well that night.
Head of School
Cardinal Newman Academy