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Pilgrimage

“Over the last two years we have been treading in the footsteps of an Edgeworth resident from the middle ages who in a desperate attempt to be healed walked for Edgeworth to Canterbury where he was miraculously healed. This is how Benedict of Canterbury a contemporary chronicler describes how this came about: 

“Richard Sunieve, son of a poor woman, but herdsman of a well to do knight of Edgeworth, Sir Henry Fitzherbert suffered like many others from sleeping out of doors.  He awoke with his face swelled and spotted and for eight years leprosy spread through his body, until at last he was forced to leave not only the knight’s house, but even the village.  His mother alone ‘followed him lest he should perish.’  From head to foot he was a mass of ulcers.  There was not ‘the space of an arrows point’ sound.  So foul was his state that even his mother could only give him his food on the end of a long stick, or place it where he could find it.  Now the boy heard of the Martyr’s fame, and wept that he had no strength to travel to him.  His tears were useless till he invoked the Saint and rose from his bed and turned towards Canterbury.

When admitted to the sepulchre (of St Thomas) he kissed it, and a great swelling like a small apple, which had projected between his nose and his lip, suddenly disappeared.  He thought it must have fallen, but could not find it.  

On tasting of the water (taken from the spring in the crypt near the Saints tomb) and mixed with a spot of the Saint’s blood he was affected like one intoxicated.  His feet tottered and he could scarcely make his way out of the church.  He then fell into an ecstasy.  Presently arising from the ground, he felt a new nimbleness in his body and skin, which at that moment of his fall had been distended by leprosy, was now, to his astonishment, quite thin and wrinkled.  To put off his return, was not to be borne.  So in order to present himself to his friends whole, he gladdened them, before us, by going home at once.”


This miracle is commemorated in one of the famous Chartres Glass Miracle windows in Canterbury Cathedral, and in the North wall of the choir of St Mary’s Church in Edgeworth.  We saw the window for ourselves on the final leg of our journey when we walked between Rochester and Canterbury on the 9th-12th May.  
We arrived in Canterbury mid afternoon on Friday 12th and stayed overnight, we then enjoyed half a day looking around Canterbury and the Cathedral before we travelled home on Saturday afternoon, 13th May.

 


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