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[personal profile] el_staplador posting in [community profile] pilgrimage
So I created this community, and then didn't do anything with it... Um, yes, sorry about that.

I thought it might be a nice idea to start making up for lost time with a picture, on the old 'thousand words' principle.

St Martha's Pilgrims - Old and New

St Martha's church lies just south of Guildford (ten miles away from me, I suppose?) on top of the North Downs. It is thought to have been a stopping point on the way to the tomb of St Thomas à Becket at Canterbury, and - as the cartoon suggests - remains a place of pilgrimage. The North Downs Way runs past it; you can still stop in on the way to Canterbury.

This sense of continuity is part of what I like about this cartoon. I can't see a date on it, but the 'modern' pilgrims seem to be wearing the hiking kit of the 1930s. I may wear quick-drying neopolywhatsit zip-off trousers, and carry telescopic aluminium hiking poles, but I'm as much a pilgrim as anybody in those two groups. Past and present meet and smile.

The general air of jollity is the other appealing feature. This seems to be a joyful journey. Is the caption meant to be ironic? Trying to raise questions about the distinction between pilgrims and tourists? I'm not sure. It's not obviously sacred on either part - the medieval pilgrims might have escaped from a children's edition of The Canterbury Tales. Have we always been questioning pilgrimage?

I don't know. But I still do it.
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