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Irish pilgrims on Westmeath camino remember Santiago victims

By Ann Marie Foley - 27 July, 2013

Camino Garden in the grounds of Mullingar Cathedral

Camino Garden in the grounds of Mullingar Cathedral

Pilgrims taking part in a Camino Walk in north Westmeath, which has links with Santiago de Compostella in Spain, will remember those who died and were injured in Wednesday night’s rail disaster.

The train derailed at high speed outside the Galician city on the eve of the feast day of St James. Festivals planned for one of the high points in the city’s liturgical calendar were cancelled as three days of national mourning were declared instead.

Pope Francis has pledged to remember the victims in his prayers.

Meanwhile, many pilgrims in Ireland are praying especially for the Spanish victims from a number of pilgrim locations around the country this weekend.

Monsignor Richard Mohan, Prior of Lough Derg, expressed the sympathies of all pilgrims present and spoke of the closeness between Friends of the Camino and Friends of Lough Derg.

Speaking to iCatholic on Thursday, he said, “This morning we celebrated the Mass of St James and as we did so we united ourselves with all pilgrims in Santiago. We remember in a special way all who have been injured in the train crash and we pray for them and their families and all who have been affected by it.”

Likewise the Camino Walk to Mullingar Cathedral on Saturday 27th July has links with Santiago de Compostella.

The remains of some monks uncovered during development work at Austin Friars Street in Mullingar were wearing the scallop shell – the distinctive emblem of a pilgrim who had visited the tomb of St James in Compostella.

This inaugural walk in Westmeath was planned long before the train tragedy in Spain.

“We certainly will be adding prayers (for those affected by the train crash), we will probably have the prayers after the Lough Lane bells.. when we are half way through the pilgrimage around the 8km mark,” Fr Robert McCabe told CatholicIreland.net.

“There are 250 people interested in joining us which is a fantastic number these days,” he said.

Saturday’s walk from Fore to Mullingar will recreate a day on the Camino de Santiago which is around 22km. The journey will begin with a prayer in the monastery of St Feichin at Fore in Collinstown parish.

On the journey towards Taghmon parish, pilgrims will take a pause for reflection and have their pilgrim passport stamped at Lough Lene (where other significant finds have been made in 1883 and 1972) and at St Munna’s Church in Taghmon (Taghmon is an anglicised version of Teach Munna). Cromwell is reputed to have taken over this Church for lodgings when he was in the area in the 17th century.

Walkers are being invited to make the journey in a spirit of pilgrimage and simplicity by disconnecting mobile phones and allowing themselves to better appreciate the heritage of those who walked these roads before them.

The Pilgrim Passport (known on the Camino as the ‘Credencial del Peregrino’) will be stamped in six locations along the route so, as organisers put it, “There will be no need to update Facebook Status.”

An essential dimension of the pilgrim walk is the hospitality offered along the way through three parishes – Collinstown, Taghmon and Mullingar.

On arrival into Mullingar parish, the walkers will pause on Austin Friars Street at a sculpture commemorating the monks who lived nearby before concluding the walk at the Camino Garden in the grounds of Mullingar Cathedral.

According to Linda Cunnane of the organising committee, “The Camino Garden will be a worthy marker for previous generations who have walked the Camino and also a place for 21st century pilgrims to connect with all who have made the journey to the tomb of St James.”

“We also hope that we can connect with the thousands of Irish people who have walked the Camino in recent years as part of this Year of Faith and Year of Gathering.”

A prayer card is being prepared for all who make the journey from Fore to Mullingar on Saturday while a Pattern Prayer (similar to those used on Lough Derg or Croagh Patrick) has been developed for visitors to the Camino Garden.

Anyone wishing to join in is welcome but pilgrim passports and scallop shells are limited to those who registered early.

Further details at http://www.mullingarparish.ie/news?news_id=233 Facebook – www.facebook.com/CaminoGarden  Twitter hashtag – #CaminoGarden

By Ann Marie Foley

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