Southwark’s pilgrimage art installation

This year’s Lent art installation at Southwark Cathedral has a Pilgrimage theme for Thomas Becket’s 850th anniversary year.

Michelle Rumney has traced the route of the London to Canterbury Pilgrims’ Way on large sheets hanging each side of the high altar.

Above and joined together are the strings of 850 people who were measured top to toe with string for the project.

They include St Thomas Becket’s successor Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby who was measured in Canterbury Cathedral on St Thomas Becket Day 29 December.

The string participation was inspired by the medieval custom known as measuring the saint involving using string to make a candle to a person’s height.

The unique candle was an aid for those praying for the sick, troubled or deceased person.

In front of the Michelle’s Pilgrimage installation are candles made to the height of known people.

One represents St Thomas himself.

Others are the height of recent dead including Marion Marples who for many years was secretary of the Confraternity of St James helping many prepare pilgrims their walk of a lifetime to Santiago de Compostela.

In her last four years she was instrumental in the rediscovery and reawakening of the Pilgrims’ Way route ready for 2020.

The candles will be lit daily to burn for two hours towards the end of the afternoon.

On Friday evening 6 March the cathedral will be open until 9pm and lit only by candlelight. Admission is free daily.

The sun catching the strings at midday
Thomas Becket candle is the tall one on the right. Marion Marples’ candle is to the left.

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