Page 10, 28th December 1979

28th December 1979
Page 10
Page 10, 28th December 1979 — The pilgrims' path from Rome via Lourdes to the Holy Land

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The pilgrims' path from Rome via Lourdes to the Holy Land

\ R('11BISIlt )1' ‘Vorlock was in Rome this month to honour the

Col leer in its four hundreih Near and Vi.;.N lucky enough to ifleet the Pope there. I hat would be the high point in many ordinary Catholics lives, hut then if one has the burden of an archbishopric. one has these OnliperWit14)1, Nov. transport is so efficient, well-oiled, geared and sprung. it k a lot easier to travel to the centres oh Catholic devotion: Rome, I ourdes, the Holy Land. Oberammergau even Cioa are SKR,. Within Ole reach of the lowly aver:tee witge-earner — and I see the as crane weekly wage last y,,ear Tla! Archbishop of Liverpool said to the Pope: -Well. 1920 was a good year!-, a cryptic remark as quoted in the Catholic press, shorn of context and inumation,

\\lett could he have been thinking of? The year 1920 was xy hen the United States introduced the ill-fated, unjust and bullet-spawning prohibition laws. No it couldn't be that; most plithahly he was referring to the hieak in!' up of the Turkish Umpire.

Alter the noble preaching of the Fir,,1 Crusade in l095, the bras e knights and the w arlikv Bishop of i.e pgy, aid • +tupvmmdous rock pinnacle c a th cd ral c it y. marched for thousands of miles and freed 1)e Hols I and and even Jerusalem from the infidel. The Turks rose k!ain and sacked poor f onsontmople iii I 451.

Again in the I irst World War, the Lurks had a had name. having se1/4eral thttfsand tiretifs at the preceding d. eades. ss ati the estabi:shment Ito.. I ea:me of Nations and the we,tkethug of the hoki or . the pa).

1 Ii Friiiics on urope.

heralded a new era of rieaCe and opened tip again the pil:trim paths to the centuries-old -hrines — I. rhesus, Cetnsiihrtinople.

.Icrusdlem. Bethly -tem. the cradles Lit Christendom.

Sinee the Pope', NkOnderrul pilgrimage to Torke: W,c Ma) he sure that the spirit of today's atholle traveller will be more I' a et:like than that or his mediaeval predecessor.

in1 the forks for their part are et. trerolly pacific enough. The couetry iolk may not be too keen omi ( Mistians, hut tourism is a ylierkhed industry in Asia Minor, and no one will mind the pc reerino taking in the shrine at plicsus wnh his run through the ant. tent [Mrs that litter the land.

cluing on a little further. one comes to old SYria and then the 1 lok 1 and. Or course most peoric !wit i less tiresome to fly out to one of the swish new holiday hotel complexes with sWinuning pools and staff a-plenty to bring you long drinks in the hot sun.

If you must follow the crusader route. there is no tune 10 stop you. hut mind your visas.

For the ockpit of world tension, kracl is a remarkably placid soul. As the earthly environmen' of God-made-man it is surprisioely small-scale. The Biblical lard is about the sue of Wales, an it is easy to go about I rom tine ea:red site to another.

Bethlteiem is a bit short of cash this Christmas-tide, but the pilgrims flock as usual and the Greek rites and Jacobites and Catho'ics still act out their liturgi,.s, so stunningly impressive on 0:: night of the Incarnation.

TI Ifoly Land is as Fascinating in 11 h suillMer. To stand on the hal of the Jordan where Our Le .1 yy as baptised. to walk the di .ty roads that Martha and Mary and Lazarus trod, to climb dawn the steep olive-clothed side ef the Cedron valley are \pc:dent:es impossible to forget.

For the archaeologists, historian, anthropologist globetrotter or pilgrim there is nowhere like the Holy Land.

I was saying that pilgrimages these days could he undertaken in an atmosphere of peace. and one person %'■ Inc has always taken great pains to further world peace has been Our Lady. whose title Queen of Peace has for some years been included in the litany.

A continuing favourite spot of pilgrimage for English people is Lourdes. Not of course that we haven't shrines of our own at Muswell Hill, Willesden. Knareshorough, Walsingham and lesford, and so on.

It is not Just the sick who benefit Prom a trip to leourdes. Anyone would be moved by the great throngs around the basilica's esplanade singing the Lourdes hymn in a hundred accents.

To make the effort to go all that way to pray. or even better to help with the care oh the sick. there will always be spiritual premiums. Our Lady. is the short cut to closeness to her Son, and Lourdes is a short cut to Our Lady's'heart.

Tor the most adventurous pilgrim. Goa is an inspiring adventure. Francis Xavier is buried there and attracts huge crowds of good Indian Catholics.

1 hey are so anxious to see the good saint in his see-through coffin that the whole throng is huhbling with energy.

St Francis arrived there in 1542 and used it as a springboard for work throughout the East. The people's Faith and the magnificent cathedral arc his mono merit.

Then there is Oberammergau.

In 1633, a deadly plague swept through Bavaria. Terrified inhabitants of a little village sowed that if God would spare them the devastation of the plague. they would act out the story of Our Lord's Passion every ten years as a thanksgiving. and it witness to (iod's laithfullness.

Miraculously Oberammergau escaped the ravages of the disease and the play has faithfully been enacted almost ss it hout interruption ever since.

The village is quite charming, if it little commercial. Spotlessly kept w it h gloriously painted murals )1 religious scenes on the external walk of the houses. Delightful motifs designed inn red. gold and blue traditional Bavarian patterns are painted around the windows and doors. Window boxes heavy with geraniums and labelia add to the colour. and fill the village with a purgent scent.

Wide unhurried streets curve down a slope towards the fast Loisach river which flows in a deep wooded ravine.

Act (155 the sk NW, low-parapet bridge lies the sister village Of Unterammergau. Until the car was invented there was no bridge and horse-pulled carts w ould hazard the path down the ray inc and up the other side. Noss only wild life and brave canoeists venture down there.

4Vandering idong the back streets. the sharp-eyed visitor lUeels little streams with neat edges running brightly alongside buttercup-fringed footpaths.

One such footpath leads unexpectedly to the w hitewashed church with its square tower. topped with a black ogre-shaped dome. typical among BiRarian Inside there is an atmosphere of light and air. The building is niacin larger than it appears frein the outside. Bavarian churches arc richly decorated. but for the. Oherammergint surpasses them all in beauty.

1 he high stone walls are painted a crisp white. and motifs and carvings which encrust the columns and ceilings, are picked out in gold.

One has the feeling that the

church is a stone psalm, -Glory to God in the Highest-. It is a very Milking experience to sit alone in that church — although I did feel a little sorry for a dried up saint in a glass box in one corner. Ile seemed so out of place.

In only a few months. that lovely. peaceful village nestled between the craggy mountains will he crammed with thousands of tourists, hungry to watch the great play. Perhaps the buttercups hy the stream and the sound (.)fbees in the air will go unnoticed_ ..

Obeiammer iiu grows more and more tense as it anticipates the hlow.

Frauleins wino take part in the Has have postponed their weddings for perahps as much as ten

scars for the privilege of acting Mary, or one of the other women who hollowed .lesus.

Meanwhile their plump "muttishave washed and starched the guests' linen. Everything must be perfect for the play, and for the Act of Remembrance. But then, that is what Oberammergau is all about.

Tour operators who can help on your pilgrimage plans include: l'augney fours (Lourdes), 329 Stansted Road, London, SEG: fellowship Fours (Israel), South Chard, Somerset. fransworld jravel Service (Lourdes), 19 Nursery Road. Thornton Heath, Surrey. (01-684 9472); Inter Frani, 125 Pall Mall, Loniiion, SW1 (01-930 2241), Results of the page 7 quiz: George Melly, Sir Peter Parker, Robert Morley, Sheila Hancock, Rev Dr David Shepperd, Leonard Rossiter, Eamonn Andrews, Wayne Sleep, Eleanor Bron, Moss Evans, John Cleese, Michael Foot, Donald Pleasance, Lesley Anne Down, Peter Cook, Brian ('lough, Frank Muir, Richard Briers, Tom Stoppard, Cardinal Hume, hate Bush, David Essex, John Williams, Lord Boyle,. Roy Hudd, John Conteh, trevor Nunn, Peter

'stinov, Glenda Jackson, Peter Sellers, Mike Brearly, Clement Freud, Jolla l'havv, David Bowie, Nluriel Odunton, Clive Jenkins.

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