Pilgrimage and Prayer
The church in Whitchurch Canonicorum has always been of importance, mentioned by Kings since the first century.
Although the shrine itself dates from only the i3th Century, the relics of St. Wite could well be considerably older. Perhaps they were the reason the very first wooden building was erected, as a place to house the Saint.
Certainly pilgrims have been travelling to the `Cathedral of the Vale` for hundreds of years. Maps of the surrounding area show all footpaths lead to the church and in mediaeval times the highway from Bridport to Axminster was through Whitchurch . It is possible to walk in the pilgrims footsteps today. At Shave Cross there is still a hostelry this is where pilgrims would have eaten and been shaved before continuing on their way to the shrine.
The sick and the dying would have been carried into the church. Lepers may have been able to touch the shrine from the outside, as they would not have been allowed into the building. Inside the church there would have been candle makers ready to make up the length of wick as an offering for a cure.
During the reformation all of this would have ceased and no one knows how the shrine escaped the ravages of Cromwell`s men.
Today people still make their pilgrimages to the shrine to pray for the sick and many testify that St Wite helps them.
The following, are thoughts about spiritual pilgrimages;
The Guest House by Rumi
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
Some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
Who violently sweep your house
Empty of its furniture,
Still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
For some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
Meet them at door laughing,
And invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
Because each has been sent
As a guide from beyond
Charles Peguy, the French poet, expressed this dream of God as the heart of the matter of all Christian ministry
I will dream a dream within you.....
Good dreams come from me, you know.......
My dreams seem impossible,
not too practical,
not for the cautious man or woman......
a little risky sometimes,
a trifle brash perhaps.......
Some of my friends prefer
to rest more comfortably,
in sounder sleep,
with visionless eyes......
But, from those who share my dreams
I ask a little patience,
a little humour,
some small courage,
and a listening heart........
I will do the rest.......
Then they will risk
and wonder at their daring.....
Run...and marvel at their speed....
Build... and stand in awe at the beauty of their building....
You will meet me often as you work....
in your companions, who share the risk....
in your friends, who believe in you enough
to lend their own dreams
their own hearts
to your building....
In the people who will stand in your doorway,
and walk away knowing that they, too, can find a dream
There will be sun-filled days,
and sometimes it will rain......
a little variety...
both come from me.
So come now be content
It is my dream you dream....
my house you build....
my caring you witness....
my love you share
and this is the heart of the matter.
May God who guides our feet into the way of peace
go with us on our pilgrim way,
that we may serve God in His people day by day
And may the blessing of God Almighty, the Father,
The Son and the Holy Spirit be with us always