Next year -2020- the Malvern Walking Festival is going to put the 120 kilometre walk round the Benedictine Foundations in South Worcestershire at the centre of its Festival programme.
Starting at Mucknell Abbey, the group will go to Pershore Abbey then to Tewkesbury, in Gloucestershire via the Benedictine tithe barn in Bredon. Crossing the Severn by ferry, the walkers reach out to Little Malvern Priory by way of Deerhurst. They then proceed in short order to St. Wulstan’s Church, then Great Malvern Priory and complete their six day exuberance in Worcester Cathedral at 4.00pm on the last Friday in May 2020.
There is an immense amount of staff work to do in creating a viable and legal route through the wonderful countryside delineated by this Ring. All will be carried out by Festival staff . There will be thousands of splendid colour brochures printed which will send the idea of the Benedictine Way around the country. The map of the route will be given to Little Malvern Priory since it is expected that a permanent pilgrimage route will follow on from this initial adventure and pilgrims will pay a small fee for each to help the Festival in its future work.
The idea of a pilgrim route, "St Wulstan’s Progress", comes from the monks of Mucknell Abbey. In 1985, 1910 people made the pilgrimage to Santiago di Compostella in Spain; in 2018 this rose to 492,000. There is
an untapped market in England for disciplined tourism of this scale and it may be expected that the
Worcestershire pilgrimage will attract 20,000 visitors over a ten year term. We understand that the Abbot and the Bishop are keen on this Benedictine emphasis. The Benedictines have been a recognised Christian order since the death of St Benedict in 547. They are not the largest order but their interpretation of the practical consequences of biblical theology is simple and robust. There are four pillars on which theirwisdom is based:
The Rule of St Benedict includes many customs and traditions, such as:
forms of prayer;
These combine to enable a peaceful life allowing the monastics to focus on God. It has been suggested by the organisers of the Walking Festival that participants be provided with these sorts of insights for each day of their future walk so that the weight of physical endeavour is balanced by a lightness of spirit. The war-dens of Little Malvern Priory and the monks of Mucknell Abbey will be preparing these disciplines during Au-gust 2019. We understand that the Benedictine Way section of the Walking Festival has already sold out even before the official publication of the programme.
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