Bishop-Elect Lynne

Today Lynne McNaughton was elected Bishop for the Diocese of Kootenay! Jeff and Don Seaton (veterans of three pilgrimages) surprised Gerald and Lynne by joining them for a celebratory tea in downtown Kelowna. 

Lynne will be consecrated Bishop on May 16, 2019; until then she is Bishop-elect. The Anglican Diocese of Kootenay covers much of southeastern British Columbia, including the Okanagan and Columbia Valleys. 

Bishop-elect Lynne with Gerald and pilgrim friends

Dr. Pauline Webb

Pauline Webb (1927-2017) died in London April 27th of this year. “Pauline” as she was fondly known here in Vancouver as well as around the world, led a remarkable and many-faceted life as a religious broadcaster for the BBC World Service, as champion for the ordination of women, as crusader against racism throughout the world in her leadership in the World Council of Churches. As vice-moderator of the WCC Central Committee, she preached the memorable opening sermon of the Sixth Assembly of the WCC in Vancouver in July 1983. Later that decade she would be Visiting Lecturer for a semester at VST. Continue reading “Dr. Pauline Webb”

Day 13 – Return to Rome

Leaving Siena with some regret that we couldn’t stay longer we made our way through the Tuscan hills south to Rome.  We are now staying on the Vatican City side of the Tiber River, not far from St. Peter’s Basilica.  There was a papal audience today so there were more crowds than usual lining up to enter the basilica. 

Today, I thought I would share some photos of this ancient city.

Continue reading “Day 13 – Return to Rome”

Day 12 – Siena – A Call to Action

We spent more time with St. Catherine of Siena today.

Catherine entered the lay order of Dominicans when she was 16 years old. Because she was in the lay order she could stay at home, rather than being cloistered. Catherine spent time in solitude and intense meditation.  She lived some of the time as an ascete, denying herself food and sleep. She had profound experiences of a relationship with Christ.  So much so that she believed that she was mystically betrothed to Jesus, receiving a ring that only she could see. So intense was her relationship with Jesus that later in life she experienced the stigmata. Again, only she could see the wounds.  

Pierro Dandini, Mystical Marriage of St. Catherine

Continue reading “Day 12 – Siena – A Call to Action”

Day 10 – Clare and San Damiano

Clare was a contemporary of Francis and they, in fact, knew each other. She left her family with the help of Francis and donned the penitential clothes of poverty. Although she wished to join Francis and his brothers, it was not appropriate for her to do so and it was arranged that she should stay with a Benedictine order of sisters. The Benedictines were not poor enough for her so she left and founded a community at San Damiano, where we visited today. The community of women grew and were known as the poor ladies. Clare and Francis had agreed to keep vows of poverty and she had to fight the authorities to maintain the state of poverty that she desired. The pope approved her order only two days before her death. It was the first order of women to be approved. The order still exists as The Poor Clares. 

While in Assisi, we are staying in a former convent, which has a lovely little chapel. We celebrated eucharist and the theme for the reflection was to consider the many names for God.

After a lovely lunch at the convent we walked down the hill through an olive grove to the site of San Damiano. The was the place where Clare lived and died and where Francis received his call to rebuild the church.

The question for today is what do we draw from Francis and Clare in our lives today?

Day 9 – Assisi and Francis

You can find Francis everywhere in Assisi. He was born in 1181 and was the founder of a brotherhood that became the Franciscan order. Born into a middle class family, he worked with his father until aged twenty. He chose to take part in a crusade in view of perhaps becoming a knight. He became ill, not very far from Assisi and returned home dejected and  without purpose. Some time later he received a vision from God that led him to ultimately shed himself of worldly goods. He was confident that God would take care of him as God takes care of the birds. Francis, according to tradition, created the first nativity scenes so Assisi is famous for their olive wood nativity sets. The symbol of the Tau cross, named for the Greek letter it represents can be found in every souvenir shop. This is a simple cross, made of wood that reflects the restrained and unadorned attribute of the Franciscan order.

A diversion from Francis is the annual May festival that occurs for four days on the first weekend in May. The streets are filled with people dressed in medieval costumes preparing for their performance in the main town square. No one knows the origins of the event but the first recorded instance is in about 1389. The Calendimaggiodiassisi has citizens from the surrounding communities competing for the best drummers, musicians, parades, costumes, etc. A noisy, colourful happening with all ages participating. 

Day 8 – A Leap in Time

Today the pilgrims time-travelled from the 6th C. CE to the 12th C in the town of Assisi. Assisi is famous for the mystic, Francis and we have come here to discover the man and the myths that contribute to his renown as an example of living simply. The town is high on a hill with a ruined castle, Rocco Maggiore on the highest point.

Rocco Maggiore

Lynne had some words to say about mystics. She quoted Dorothea Soelle, “A Mystic is someone who has a “longing for God”, a sense of union with God or seeking union with God. No navel-gazers but world-changers.  

Tomorrow we will learning more about Francis and Clare, who knew Francis and created an order, herself.

Our accommodations on this pilgrimage have spanned from a pleasant tourist hotel in Rome, to a former palace in Ravenna. Now we are residing in a convent, plain but homey with spectacular views of the Umbrian plain below.

Day 7 – More Mosaics and Pilgrim Activities

This morning we encountered the Emperor Justinian in the great Ravenna church, San Vitale.  The church was named for the martyr, San Vitale, who had died two centuries before at the hand of Domition.  For me, there are two main attributes in this church. The marble floor and the amazing mosaic murals that depict the Emperor Justinian on one side of the apse and his wife, Theodora and her retinue on the other side of the apse. These two are god-like in their appearance, as was common for the depiction of Emperors in Rome.

The Emperor Justinian
The Empress Theodora


We also met Gallida Placida, a very powerful woman who eventually was entitled to create a mausoleum for herself, which we visited. Gallida Placida’s remains are not there but the jewel box of a small chapel is left for us to admire. There are sumptuous mosaics showing doves at a birdbath, which is one of the symbols seen throughout the city of Ravenna.

Today was the day to go to the Lido, the beach area of Ravenna. The weather was on the cool side with sprinkles of rain, hardly a deterrent for us. Most of us waded in the Adriatic Sea and one of us even swam. A refreshing change of pace.

Returning from the beach we settled into creating our own mosaics.

Lynne reminded us of a quote from theologian, Richard Niebuhr, which resonatedparticularly with me. “Pilgrims are persons in motion – passing though territories not their own, – seeking something we might call completion, or perhaps clarity.”