Last Monday, Year 6 went on a pilgrimage to Lancaster. A pilgrimage is a journey to a holy place. In medieval times, Christians used to walk for months, even years, to travel to holy places. Luckily, our pilgrimage lasted for a day rather than a year! Lancaster Diocese has its own Holy Door and Pope Francis has asked, in this Year of Mercy, for Christians to travel to the Holy Door and receive a blessing as they walk through it.  Another word for a holy place is ‘shrine’. The Holy Door is a shrine. Pilgrimages are challenging and involve a lot of walking. This is exactly what we did when we journeyed to St. Peter’s Cathedral in Lancaster.



We began our journey at the Priory Church in Lancaster. It is very close to Lancaster Castle and is one of the oldest churches in the United Kingdom. It has been worshipped in by Christians since Saxon times. We learned all about how monks used to pray there from the Vicar of Lancaster, Reverend Newlands. Monks are men who dedicate their life to God. Here, we prayed for peace and for our family and friends.



Our second prayer station was inside the walls of Lancaster Castle which used to be a prison and is still a court. The castle stands proudly over the city. We listened to a talk by an expert who shared with us how, years ago, Catholics were persecuted for their faith. This means that Catholics were treated very unkindly and were put into jail for their belief in God and for their faithfulness to the Pope. These people are called ‘martyrs’ which means ‘witness’ in Ancient Greek. It was against the law to be a Catholic when Elizabeth the first was the queen. If anyone went to Mass at that time, they were breaking the law. Here, at the castle, we prayed for those who became prisoners because of their beliefs and we pledged our own faith in the Lord.



For our third prayer station, we arrived at the City Museum. We stood outside, surrounded by members of the public and we prayed for our mothers and grandmothers as we thought about Jesus’ mother Mary. We showed our appreciation for the mercy shown to us by our families who love and care for us. Can anyone tell me what the Seven Corporal Acts of Mercy are?


(Feed the hungry

Give drink to the thirsty

Shelter the homeless

Visit the sick

Visit the imprisoned

Clothe the naked

Bury the dead)


Our families have unconditional love for us, just as God does too.





Our fourth prayer station was at Dalton Square. To get there, we had to walk along a road called Friar Street. A friar is a bit like a priest but they aren’t linked to one specific church, they go out into the communities and preach whilst looking after the sick. In Lancaster in the Middle Ages, friars looked after Catholics who were on pilgrimage and who needed support. The friars showed people mercy. Here, we prayed to be merciful like the Father.



For our fifth prayer, we stayed inside the Town Hall and after a well-earned lunch, sung some of the songs we had learned for the pilgrimage and then said the Lord’s prayer. This prayer was taught to us by Jesus himself. When Jesus taught people the Lord’s prayer, he also told them that God sees everything that we do, even things that we do in secret. Because of this, God already knows what we need and how we feel. He is always with us.



Our next stop was to be Lancaster Cathedral. The Holy Door of the cathedral, like that in the Vatican, is only opened during Holy Years. We were lucky enough for the door to be open as it is the Jubilee Year of Mercy. As we each walked through the door, we made ourselves prayerful and thought about how thankful we are for all the love in our lives. The cathedral inside is beautiful- the perfect setting for us to hand in our prayers of petition. These were the prayers we each wrote on the theme of mercy. We prayed for our family and friends, for our local community, for those further away who need help. We then listened to Father Luis as he led the Gospel.



The first Pope, Simon Peter, declared that Jesus was the Son of God. We listen to the words of St. Matthew’s Gospel:


When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”


“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”


Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”


Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.  And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

The Gospel of the Lord

(Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ)



After a short service in the cathedral, we pilgrims returned to the town hall. Here, we met a doctor who works hard to heal the sick and wounded in poor countries. He told us about a little girl who was extremely ill and her family could not afford to pay for her medicine. In some countries, if you are not rich, you cannot receive any help in the hospital. Luckily, the doctor we met cured the girl and she went on to live a happy life. He showed mercy to her. We also met a man who works with refugees who have had to flee their countries to escape danger. Imagine being woken up very early in the morning when it is still dark outside and being told you need to leave your house straight away, forever. This is what is happening to some people in other countries right now. He gave us ideas about how to show mercy to our neighbours around the world; we should welcome people who need our help.



As a symbol of our Pilgrimage of Mercy, we were given this candle in the cathedral. It is lit to remind us both to be merciful towards others and to be thankful for the mercy we receive. When we sing, we pray twice. Therefore please join us in singing ‘The Kingdom of Heaven’.



Pope Francis has written a poem for the Year of Mercy which we would like to share with you. This prayer marked the end of our pilgrimage and will mark the end of this assembly. We will now make the sign of the cross.


In the name of the father, the son and the holy spirit.


Lord Jesus Christ, you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly father, and have told us that whoever sees you, sees Him. Show us your face and we will be saved.


In the name of the father, the son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Click here to download the presentation about our pilgrimage to Lancaster