Students graduate to pilgrims

The longest continuous walking pilgrimage in Britain has a new name.

Members of Student Cross, which has been going since 1948, have voted to change the name to Pilgrim Cross, to better reflect their more diverse community.

The cross-carrying pilgrimage, which takes place during Holy Week, was originally walked by students but is now enjoyed by pilgrims of all ages.

National Director Benedict Brien said: “Students have been, and always will be, a massive part of Pilgrim Cross. So many pilgrims have joined up from chaplaincies and have enjoyed an amazing experience and we want that to continue.

“But we also need to recognise that Pilgrim Cross is much more diverse. We have many pilgrims who come back year after year, long after they were students. We also have family groups, and groups for pilgrims who are unable to commit to walking for a whole week, so it is important that we reflect that.”

The pilgrimage, which is made up of different groups that walk to Walsingham, is also concerned that people wanting to experience pilgrimage might be put off because they are not students.

Benedict said: “Lots of people are interested in pilgrimage. They feel a need to connect with God and explore their relationship with him, while visiting old churches or being out in the countryside.

“Pilgrim Cross does all of that in abundance. It is also a great chance to meet with like-minded people and create an amazing community. So many lifelong friendships are formed on our pilgrimage, while faith is explored and renewed.

“I can’t think of a better way of spending Holy Week.”

The pilgrimage has had to be held virtually for the last two years due to Covid restrictions but Benedict is hopeful that pilgrims will be able to walk to Walsingham again in 2022.

He said: “We have had some amazing virtual liturgies but we are already putting plans in place to enjoy a walking pilgrimage that is safe but allows us to commemorate Christ’s passion, death and resurrection.

• For more information about Pilgrim Cross, click here.

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