On 21 November 2019 a group of Kent artists set out on a pilgrimage following the route of the Augustine Camino between Rochester and Ramsgate. The group will take a year to cover the 67 mile journey. They will be responding to the route and the concept of pilgrimage in their art. The result will be a series of exhibitions and a book. 

The pilgrimage is timely as it coincides with the 900th anniversary of Thomas Becket and passes through Canterbury and the site of his shrine.

The word 'pilgrimage' comes from the Latin word 'peregre' meaning journey. The Hebrew and Christian scriptures are full of journeys and we can learn from them. The Latin root of the word 'pilgrimage', 'peregrine', also means 'strange' or 'stranger'. Pilgrims would have travelled to pilgrimage sites by foot or animal and by embarking on the physical journey they were also making themselves available for inner transformations with physical discomfort stripping away preconceptions.

With the rise of Christianity in the 1st Century BC, Christians started to visit tombs and saint's relics in order to pay their respects. These pilgrimages were short journeys to nearby sites celebrating Saints or miracles. These were often visited on patronal festivals. This movement grew with the idea that you could atone for sins by visiting the sacred spaces or shrines, the most important being a journey to Jerusalem.

Nowadays people are drawn to pilgrimages for a variety of reasons from the spiritual to a chance to explore the countryside. The act of physically walking both alone and with others provides space in a 24/7 world, a time to re-evaluate our lives and to link with those who have walked before.

For anyone wanting to follow the route, full details can be found on the Augustine Camino website.

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Sonia McNally painting in chapel at Aylesford Priory.