Friday, 8 April 2011


Pilgrimage is not an exact science. Does that mean it would be ideal if i was only able to use the rather drastically short-term 20-day Russian tourist visa i've just (thankfully) been able to pick up here in Lvov, to amble around the far western fringe of Russia for a few days, and then take a train to a place from which it might be possible to fly to Mexico? Not really. 20 days however is scarcely enough time to travel across Russia in a passenger aircraft, let alone on foot. As a now-fairly-seasoned pilgrim, i trust in Divine Providence, that if more walking is required of me, a way will become apparent.
On Wednesday i reached yet another famous Shrine; that of the miraculous Icon of Our Lady of Zarvanitsa, which appeared in a dream to a monk fleeing the Mongol invaders in 1240. It was especially nice to be there yesterday morning for the celebration of the Byzantine-Rite Annunciation (they accept the Primacy of Rome but still follow the Orthodox calendar - it gets rather complicated...), not least because our own national Shrine to Mary, at Walsingham, is imbued with a particular orientation to this Feast:
Statue of Our Lady of Walsingham with Cardinal Basil Hume and Pope John Paul II, Wembley Stadium, 29 May 1982
Our Lady promised,
"All who are in any way distressed or in need, let them seek me there in that little house you have made at Walsingham. To all that seek me there shall be given succour. And there at Walsingham in this little house shall be held in remembrance the great joy of my 'Salutation', when St. Gabriel told me that I should through humility become the Mother of God's Son."*

Hence actually, it seems that although pilgrimage doesn't look like an exact science at first, we may hope that in the Divine plan there is extraordinary precision in the timing and pathways which Our Lord is preparing for us. 

Before finishing i must mention my tremendous gratitude to Sir Richard Beresford-Wylie, who very kindly donated a battery-powered 'Dazer' canine deterrent device, which i haven't actually needed to use yet, but which enables me to walk with greater confidence - not least as only the other day i had my first "Little-Red-Riding-Hood-esque warning about wolves! Incidentally, a few years ago there was a great deal of negative press in Britain about 'Hoodies' - yet Robin Hood and Little Red Riding Hood (cousins?) are two of our most enduring and important cultural icons!

 *to 'Richeldis de Faverches', Lady of the Manor of Walsingham, c.1061AD.  

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating as always J.,
    Russian visas are a problem.I'm racking my brains for any ideas that might help you make further progress. In meantime we have had the envelope with your film, which is now being converted and so I will be able to send you some of the photos to add to this blog.