Pilgrimpace's Blog


I’m back from finally completing the pilgrimage from Winchester to Canterbury that Roland and I have been doing in sections over the last couple of years.  I’ll post thoughts, pictures and a replort of the journey soon but I want to reflect a bit about religious violence at in the light of yesterday’s murder in London.


This is where Thomas Becket’s Tomb stood until the Reformation (if you look closely, you can make out a depression in the floor on the right of the photo worn by pilgrim knees).  We couldn’t get to the spot where Thomas was murdered due to a funeral taking place, but it is a strong reminder of murder happening in the heart of the Church.  Christians have often been complicit in this; indeed, there was some controversy when Becket was made Archbishop as he had commanded troops in France as Chancellor.

After praying in and looking round the bits of the Cathedral that were open, we went into the Undercroft.  I had not been to Canterbury for several years, and had forgotten that this is palpably a place of prayer.  Wandering round, we found this sculpture by Stefan W Knor:


(I have reproduced this photo from the lumen-tenebris website – I hope this is OK, it is not possible to take photos in the Undercroft.  Please visit the website here to look at the statue in detail.  If you are able to see it in Canterbury while it is there, please do so.)

Pieta was a statue in a Church in Germany.  It was badly damaged in a fire.  Knor found it, stabilised it, and covered the charred wood with gold leaf.  The effect is remarkable.  It is easy to become over-familiar with the terrible subject matter of pietas – a man, tortured and executed by the state, is held in the arms and lap of his mother.  This depiction has been almost destroyed and then re-made.  In the face of violence  and destruction, it speaks of life and love.

There is no place in the world for religious violence.  In the face of terrorism and murder, it is vital not to turn against one another.  It is vital to remember that all people are created in and bear the image and likeness of God.  It is vital to go about the business of being human and being alive, of creating and living communities of abundant joyful life for all.

Let’s continue this pilgrimage in the face of all that stands against it.


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Being Protestant and Reformed (think Calvin), my love for Christian religious iconography in all its forms is not always well understood by my Protestant friends. (No, I’m not worshipping statues, thank you very much.) My grandmother was an art teacher, and I’m a museum rat (thankfully Los Angeles has enough world-class art museums to give me my “fix”). I find that there are times when art functions better than mere words to tell a story. I also find that sometimes the story of the life of a piece of art can make it more interesting than it might otherwise have been.

This pieta is now on my theoretical list of things to see if I ever get away from the U.S.

I don’t remember where the statue is of Jesus with no hands is (they were blown off in a war-time explosion). I love the story that the citizens refused to let anyone “fix” the statue. Their argument? We are Jesus’ hands.

Religious violence is the worst — devilry in the name of God.

Blessings to you for a beautiful rest of your day.

Comment by Val

Thanks Val. This came up on my twitter feed just now:

There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice ~ John Calvin


Comment by pilgrimpace

That’s pretty Ignatian too, and definitely something Jonathan Edwards would have gone for. 🙂

Blessings for your weekend

Comment by Val

[…] Val on pieta […]

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Reblogged this on Pilgrimpace's Blog and commented:

for St Thomas’ Day

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