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/ 24 May 2016

Area Dean walks the Silver Way to Santiago

The Preb Alan Moses

¡Buen Camino! If you have ever walked the Camino de Santiago, then you will have heard this greeting said to you hundreds of times. This is the traditional address that people say to those who walk any of the 16 routes across France and Spain to Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia. This saying, meaning ‘have a good Camino’ is what we wish for top diocesan fundraiser, the Revd Preb Alan Moses, Vicar of All Saints Margaret Street and Chair of the House of Clergy in the Diocesan Synod.

At the end of May, Alan will be walking a pilgrimage from Seville to Santiago to raise money for the Lent Appeal, which has been collecting essential funds for persecuted Syrian and Iraqi Christians.

Alan, (who is walking with a friend, Fr Sean Mullen from Philadelphia), has a wealth of walking and fundraising experience. Six years ago, he walked the Camino Frances from the Pyrenees to Santiago and raised £20,000 for his church and USPG.  A couple of years later, he raised £10,000 walking the Pilgrims Way from Winchester to Canterbury.

From 31 May, with the encouragement of the Bishop of London he is inviting the people of the Diocese of London to sponsor him and raise funds for the charities of the Lent Appeal, Aid to the Church in Need and Open Doors.

Commenting on his fundraising efforts, Alan suggests that:

“In 2016, it seems relevant to raise funds this way for the persecuted Christians of Syria and Iraq and the refugees from the conflicts there – whatever their religion. For centuries, Spain was on the front line of a clash between Christians and Muslims. At the same time, there were periods when Christians, Muslims and Jews were able to live in this region in peace.”

The Camino de Santiago, also known as The Way of St James, is given to any of the pilgrimage routes to the shrine of the apostle St James-the-Great, in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Galicia in north-western Spain. It is here, that tradition suggests, is where the remains of the saint were buried. Over 1,000 years, many generations of saints, royalty, and every day pilgrims have been walking these routes as a form of retreat for their spiritual growth.

The start of Alan’s Pilgrimage in Seville, southern Spain, was one of the great cities of Muslim Andalusia. Although the Muslim and Jewish populations were expelled after the reconquest by the monarchs, Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, traces of Muslim influence, especially in architecture and decoration survive in many places. The cathedral in Seville, which is the starting point of his pilgrimage, was built on the site of the city’s principal mosque.

The scallop shell, as pictured on Alan’s rucksack, is an iconic symbol of The Way, and today it is used to guide pilgrims along the many routes through Spain. The shell is said to be a metaphor, with lines representing the different routes pilgrims travel from all over the world, to the tomb of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela. Medieval pilgrims often wore it attached to cloaks or hats and they would be given food and rest at churches, helping them on their way.

Today, Alan’s journey of 1,000 km on the Silver Way will be an arduous one, taking about 40 days, but there will be a pilgrim hostels for him to stay in each night. Unlike the refugees and the persecuted Christians, he will not have to sleep out in the open, or go hungry, or be in danger from traffickers or terrorists. He will be travelling light, with a change of clothes, toiletries, Prayer Book and Bible. Like those fleeing the terrors of their worn-torn countries, he will experience sore feet and aching muscles.

Commenting on his journey, Alan says:

“I will have been able to pack what I need, rather than desperately grabbing what I can, before fleeing from home. And when it is over, I will be able to return to my house and family: something which for many fleeing the barbarism of ISIS or the horrors of civil war and desperately seeking somewhere they and their children can be safe, must seem an impossible dream.”

For Alan, and many a walking pilgrimage is something of a retreat while on the move. People met and places passed through, churches and wayside shrines, open vistas and long periods of silence, together provide opportunities to reflect and pray in the land which, even in a time of great intolerance, produced, in Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross – two of the Church’s greatest teachers of prayer.

Supporting Fr Alan’s difficult journey, the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd and Rt Hon Richard Chartres, said:

“Prayer is not always sedentary. Walking can be a way of prayer sanctified by many saints over the centuries. So I heartily commend Fr Alan Moses as he sets out on a prayerful pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela which will also raise funds for our Lent Appeal. You may not be able to walk the Silver Way but you can pray and sponsor Fr Alan.”

To date, the Lent Appeal has raised more than £90,000 and the money raised by Alan’s effort will give this fund an extra boost.  You can sponsor Alan on his page and you can find out more updates on his progress by viewing the All Saints Margaret Street Facebook Page or the parish website. If you are inspired by Alan and want to walk your own route to Santiago, more information can be gathered from the Confraternity of St James.

About Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall was the diocesan Communications Assistant, before going on to become a Franciscan Friar with the Society of St Francis. Matthew seeks to protect the environment. He adores hiking and being outdoor in the country or by the sea in nearly all weather. He dreams of hiking to Rome and Jerusalem.

Read more from Matthew Hall

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