Glastonbury Pilgrimage


The first pilgrimage to Glastonbury in modern times was in 1895 to celebrate the beatification of Abbot Richard Whiting, on the anniversary of his martyrdom 1539 when thousands of pilgrims from all over the country arrived by train and climbed the Tor where Mass was said. Pilgrimages took place after both World Wars by pilgrims in thanksgiving for their survival.

Every year since the early 1950’s the Clifton Diocesan Glastonbury Pilgrimage has been held in Glastonbury, when the then Bishop of Clifton requested the Knights of St Columba to organize and run a diocesan pilgrimage. For many years groups from each of the Deaneries walked to Glastonbury carrying a very large wooden cross.

This year the Pilgrimage will be held on Sunday 12 July. We bring you a series of podcasts that explain Pilgrimage, The Shrine of our Lady of Glastonbury and more about this year’s Pilgrimage.

In this first podcast in the series, we hear from Parishioner David Baldwin who has written many books on Pigrimage, and he explains why Pilgrimage is so important to our faith:


In the second podcast in the series, we hear from Kim Woolmer, the Lay Administrator and Shrine Manager at The Shrine of our Lady of Glastonbury. She explains the checkered history of the Shrine and how it is now an important pilgrimage site.


The third podcasts is recorded in the Abbey grounds with Fr James Finan. He explains aboput the Pilgrimage route and what will be happening on Sunday.


This final podcast is by Bishop Crispian Hollis who will be  leading this year’s Pilgrimage. He tells us in this podcast about the theme for this year’s Pilgrimage – Mary, the Mother of the Family



2015; A year of Two very special Anniversaries


July 1955; The new statue of Our Lady of Glastonbury is blessed by the Apostolic Delegate, the Most Rev. Archbishop Gerald O’Hara. Note that the statue has the original sculpted crown

After the Abbey at Glastonbury was dissolved by King Henry VIII in 1539, and the last Abbott, Blessed Richard Whiting martyred on Glastonbury Tor, the Shrine of Our Lady of Glastonbury was lost, the statues destroyed, the Abbey sacked and Glastonbury was without a Catholic Church for almost 400 years. In 1926 an adapted farm building was blessed and Glastonbury once more had a Catholic parish. In 1939, the foundations of a new permanent church were laid, immediately next door to the farm building, and in 1941 the lovely new church of St Mary’s in Magdalene Street was completed and consecrated. This would become the Restored Shrine of Our Lady of Glastonbury.

July 4th 1965; The statue of Our Lady of Glastonbury is processed into the Abbey for the crowning ceremony, to be celebrated by the Apostolic Delegate, the Most Rev. Archbishop Igino Cardinale.

60 years ago, in 1955, a new statue of Our Lady of Glastonbury, beautiful in its simplicity, was sculpted by Philip Lindsey Clark from the representation of Our Lady in the centre of a 14th century great seal of the Abbey. This new statue was blessed by the Apostolic Delegate, the Most Rev. Archbishop Gerald O’Hara, and the Shrine of our Lady of Glastonbury was canonically restored in the new Church of our Lady in Magdalene Street.


The statue of Our Lady of Glastonbury is crowned with gold by Archbishop Igino Cardinale during the Pontifical Mass. July 4th 1965

50 years ago, on 4th July 1965, ten years after the restoration of the Shrine, the statue of Our Lady was solemnly crowned with gold by the Apostolic Delegate, Most Rev. Archbishop Igino Cardinale in the Abbey ruins, in the presence of an enormous gathering which included the Bishop of Clifton, and the Bishop of Bath and Wells, where Mass was celebrated in front of a crowd of no less than 18,000; a truly historic moment. The small gold crown, simple in style to perfectly complement the statue, had been made from jewellery and other gold items donated by parishioners.

The Archbishop himself described the historic events that took place that day in the Abbey grounds, “The greatest religious event since the Reformation. It is the first time that a Pontifical Mass of Our Lady has been celebrated on this holy site, it is the first time that Catholics and Anglicans join as brothers in a solemn act of filial devotion to the Mother of Christ on the spot where she was first invoked as Our Lady St Mary of Glastonbury. There is no doubt that this celebration is the greatest event that has ever happened in Glastonbury since the unity of the Christian body was broken in these lands.”

The privilege of crowning statues with gold is reserved to St Peter’s Chapter in Rome, granted to Our Lady of Glastonbury, in the words given by the Chapter; “….that the Statue of the Blessed Mary at Glastonbury is the object of ancient veneration by the faithful, who visit it frequently in pilgrimage….” This crowning moment was the culmination of an extraordinary history, and Our Lady’s return to Glastonbury after an absence of 400 years.
Kim Woolmer.

Glastonbury Pilgrimage 2015

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