Ecumenical group shares St Magnus Day Pilgrimage

Final-year ordinand Helen Randall reports on the St Magnus Day Pilgrimage which took place in Shetland earlier this year.

An ecumenical group, developing pilgrimage in Shetland, has been meeting together for over four years, sharing historical information about early Christian sites, and reflecting on different aspects of pilgrimage, as well as sharing soup and sweet lunches together, writes Helen Randall.

The group includes Episcopalians, Methodists, Catholics, and members of the Church of Scotland. Group members include the Regional Archaeologist, and Jenny Murray, a curator at the Shetland Museum, specializing in archaeology, and a PhD candidate researching the spread of the veneration of St Magnus from Orkney to Shetland.

Jenny and I co-curated the pilgrimage walk, for the feast day of St Magnus, April 16th, with historical and archaeological input from Jenny, sharing evidence of the veneration of St Magnus in the landscape of our islands, and reflective wonderings, Scripture, and prayers from me.

After spending part of my Scottish Episcopal Instutute placement in Orkney earlier this year, walking sections of the St Magnus Way, alongside those who have been involved with its development, my thinking about appropriate themes and spiritual reflections for different sections of pilgrimage routes in Shetland grew. The St Magnus Day Pilgrimage Walk has four Waymarks: peace on the hillside, loss by the lochside, growth by the foreshore and community on the clifftop, overlooking the sea where earlier pilgrims may well have travelled to/from Orkney.

As we gathered to begin the pilgrimage, after viewing some recent archaeological finds in the Museum Store I shared these words; We come as we are, to the St Magnus Day Pilgrimage Walk. We come to celebrate the life of St Magnus on his feast day. We come to journey in a sacred way, with an open heart and empty hands. The last sentence echoes words of St Augustine; ‘God gives where he finds empty hands of surrender’.

The St Magnus Day Pilgrimage Walk ended at the church hall, where we came together in community, sharing a simple meal. This was followed by an evening Eucharist in St Magnus, with Neil Brice, the Rector, using my pilgrimage prayer as the Collect.

Creator God,
we celebrate the life of St Magnus,
who chose death for the sake of peace,
whose loss was greatly felt by family and friends,
and whose legacy inspired a growth of communities.
Bless we pray, as we continue on the pilgrim way,
being attentive to your presence around us,
among us, and within us. Amen.

The Pilgrimage Group continues to meet, with visionary plans for the growth of Shetland Pilgrimage Ways.