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Becket anniversaries will prompt pilgrimages
WORSHIPPERS from our diocese will be marking two anniversaries relating to Thomas a Becket during 2020 with a series of pilgrimages and special services.
Thomas Becket, also known as St Thomas of Canterbury, was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 until his death in 1170 – famously being murdered by followers of King Henry II within his own cathedral. Portsmouth Cathedral is dedicated to him.
Becket 2020 is the name given to a programme of events around the UK to mark 850 years since Becket’s martyrdom and 800 years since his body was moved from the crypt to a new shrine within the chancel of the cathedral. Even by that point – the year 1220 - Canterbury had become the principal pilgrimage destination in England because of Becket’s life and death.
And our diocese and cathedral will use Becket 2020 to focus on our spiritual journey as God’s people and our call as God’s pilgrim church.
Among the events planned is a cathedral pilgrimage to Canterbury on July 7 – the exact anniversary of the translation of Becket’s body. One of our cathedral choirs will sing Evensong jointly with the choirs of Canterbury Cathedral (pictured above: photos (c) Mattana [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)].
The Friends of Portsmouth Cathedral hope to organise a coach for pilgrims to travel to Canterbury on that date, and others from across the diocese are welcome to join them. It is a Tuesday, so those who are in work may find it difficult to come. But more coaches can be booked if needs be.
A more general diocesan pilgrimage is planned on October 3, which is a Saturday. Bishop Christopher and a group of pilgrims will visit Canterbury Cathedral, when its choirs and one of our cathedral choirs will again sing Evensong jointly.
Some worshippers may choose to walk from Portsmouth to Canterbury in the week starting on September 28, joining the ancient pilgrimage route from Winchester to Canterbury, which crosses our diocese from Wickham to Havant. Others may choose to walk from Southwick Priory to our cathedral, re-tracing the steps of the monks who originally founded Portsmouth Cathedral.
Parishes and deaneries interested in either pilgrimage are urged to indicate their interest via firstname.lastname@example.org, to give an idea of the numbers involved.
Other significant occasions during the year will be the annual presentation of St Thomas Awards by the bishop on March 22. These lapel badges are named after Thomas Becket and presented to worshippers across the diocese for years of faithful service to God and the Church.
That date is Mothering Sunday, and some parishes may be interested in coming on pilgrimage to the cathedral as their ‘mother’ church.
And on June 20, Canterbury Cathedral Choir will sing Evensong at Portsmouth Cathedral at 5pm, cementing the links between the two cathedrals.
Deaneries and parishes are also being invited to come to the cathedral during the year for a Pilgrim Eucharist, a tour followed by Evensong, a pilgrimage evening, or a ‘Cathedral at Night’ visit. The cathedral may organise several parishes to visit together for a Saturday lunchtime Pilgrim Eucharist, or allocate them to a specific Evensong when there is a chance to stay behind and spend time in the cathedral afterwards.
Each Honorary Canon is also being asked to preach on a Sunday Evensong and to bring their parish with them on that date. There will be special Stations of the Cross during Lent, and some Stations of Thomas after Easter.
St Thomas's Street Old Portsmouth, PO1 2HH