Pilgrim Measuring day at Southwark Cathedral

Michelle Rumney with string ready to measure a visitor in Southwark Cathedral

Pilgrims and intending Canterbury pilgrims are being invited to drop in at Southwark Cathedral on Sunday.

‘Measuring the saint’ is an old custom involving making a candle to the height of a particular saint.

The saint in question this time is St Thomas of Canterbury, better known as Thomas Becket, whose 850th anniversary of martyrdom is being marked this year.

Church candles were sometimes made to the height of a deceased person being remembered or a living person needing our prayers.

Michelle Rumney is measuring people with string so she can weave hundreds of lengths into her Lent installation in Southwark Cathedral. Its theme will be the Pilgrims’ Way from Southwark to Canterbury.

The Archbishop of Canterbury was measured last week.

Next Sunday 12 January Michelle will be back at Southwark Cathedral between 12 noon and 3pm to measure anyone who wants to participate.

“I’d love everyone who feels they have a special connection with Southwark in any way to be part of this if they’d like to be – to actually be part of the artwork,” says Michelle.

So far Michelle has collected 257 lengths of string but needs a further opportunities to measure in order to be able to represent the full 86 miles from Southwark to Canterbury.

The backdrop to the artwork will be the 500 year old great screen which features images of figures associated with the pilgrimage including St Thomas, St Swithun, John Gower, Cardinal Beaufort and Bishop Richard Fox.

Lent starts at the end of February and lasts for six weeks until Easter in April.

St Thomas Becket visited Southwark Cathedral just three weeks before his murder in Canterbury. His route back to Canterbury is the present Pilgrims’ Way followed by pilgrims and made famous by Chaucer.

Michelle Rumney measuring Southwark Succentor Rachel Young

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