Pilgrimpace's Blog

green pilgrimage network
November 26, 2011, 4:33 pm
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I’m really interested and pleased to see the launch of the Green Pilgrimage Network recently.

A ban on cars on pilgrimage routes; solar panels for cathedral roofs; provision of fresh clean, water for pilgrims, and the planting of thousands of trees around sacred sites – these are just some of the initiatives which the founder members of the Green Pilgrimage Network today pledged to implement. 

The Green Pilgrimage Network was launched today (November 1st) at the Sacred Land Celebration in Assisi, Italy, organised by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) in association with WWF. 

Representatives from 15 faith traditions from around the world gathered in the holy city of Assisi, Italy – one of the founder members – with secular and environmental organisations to launch the world’s first global commitment to green pilgrimage. 

ARC Secretary-General Martin Palmer said: “Cities from China to Norway and faiths from all around the world today commit to making one of the most powerful religious experiences – pilgrimage – a living witness to a commitment to protect our living planet. 

“This is an invitation to all holy places to put into practice what they preach – namely, that when we walk upon this Earth, we walk on sacred land” – ARC Secretary-General Martin Palmer

“This idea does not belong to these founder members or even to ARC or WWF. This is an invitation to all holy places to put into practice what they preach – namely, that when we walk upon this Earth, we walk on sacred land.” 

Around 100 million people a year become pilgrims, whether for a few hours, days or even weeks, according to figures compiled by ARC.1 The Green Pilgrimage Network brings together faiths and local governments to make their pilgrim cities and sacred sites as environmentally sustainable as possible, according their own theologies and understanding of the natural world. 

A ban on cars on pilgrimage routes is part of the Green Pilgrimage plan of Kano, Nigeria; solar panels are to be installed on St Albans’s cathedral roof in the UK; provision of fresh clean, water is to be provided for pilgrims to the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, while the planting of thousands of trees around sacred sites is an initiative of Etchmiadzin, Armenia. 

Other plans announced today by the 12 founder Green Pilgrimage Network members include measures to protect nature (Louguan, China), teaching children about conservation (Luss, Scotland); protection of sacred forests (Jinja Honcho, Japan), reducing waste and encouraging recycling (Haifa, Israel); organising nature tours for pilgrims (Assisi, Italy)

Founder members of the Green Pilgrimage Network include:

Amritsar, India (for Sikhs);
Assisi, Italy (Roman Catholic);
Etchmiadzin, Armenia (Armenian Orthodox);
Haifa, Israel (Bahà’ì);
Jerusalem (for Jews, Christians and Muslims);
Jinja Honcho, the Association of Shinto shrines in Japan;
Kano, Nigeria (Islam’s Qadiriyyah Sufi tradition);
Louguan in the People’s Republic of China (Daoists);
St Albans, England (Church of England);
Luss, Loch Lomond, Scotland (Church of Scotland);
St Pishoy Monastery, Wadi El Natroun, Egypt (the Coptic Orthodox Church);
Trondheim, Norway (Lutheran Church of Norway).

St Albans cathedral writes about it:

St Albans is to become a founding member of a new global network aimed at greening religious pilgrimages. The Green Pilgrimage Network will be launched on 1st November in Assisi in Italy in the presence of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. It is to be coordinated by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC), in association with WWF.

The idea of making a religious journey to a holy place is something shared across different religions, and the vision of this network is to make places of pilgrimage as environmentally sustainable as possible. As the oldest place of Christian pilgrimage in Great Britain, St Albans Cathedral was invited to be part of this network in partnership with the City and District Council. The Cathedral is also one of Britain’s oldest recycled buildings – since Roman bricks are still visible in the Norman tower and throughout the building.

The Mayor of the City and District of St Albans, Cllr Aislinn Lee, said, ‘I am honoured to welcome the nomination of St Albans as a Green Pilgrim City, joining a worldwide network alongside other destinations like Jerusalem, Amritsar and Assisi. We look to a future welcoming ever more visitors in which the vision of a green future becomes ever more vital and compelling. In this vision, we can all become those who tread lightly on the earth and leave behind a better place for those who follow.’

Canon Kevin Walton, the Canon Chancellor, who has been working on the project said, ‘This is a significant step marking out St Albans as an international place of pilgrimage. It is also a challenge for us to ensure that we do all we can to actively care for God’s creation. To this end, we have been working hard to put together a plan to enhance our environmental standards.’

 I am fascinated by this – green pilgrimage fits so well with those deep pilgrimage tropes of simplicity and gratitude.  I can feel a walk from home to St Albans Cathedral coming on, perhaps in the autumn.  It would be good to use this as an opportunity to pray this all through.

2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Fascinating, esp. as I contemplate a Sarria-Compostela trash pickup-pilgrimage for Advent! Thanks for sharing.

Comment by rebrites

Thanks Reb – certainly something I want to keep exploring and trying to live


Comment by pilgrimpace

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