Pilgrimage: finding each other again in the paradise of free souls

Location: Southwark Cathedral

February 26, 2020 - April 11, 2020

This year’s candlelit artwork by Michelle Rumney traces St. Thomas Becket’s last journey from Southwark to Canterbury 850 years ago. Lengths of string will veil the altar for this piece which invites you to reflect on pilgrimage and the fragile but powerful strength of our connections with each other through time and space.

In the Year of Pilgrimage Southwark Cathedral reflects on the medieval practice of ‘Measuring to the Saint’ – Lent Art Installation 2020’.

In medieval times, there was a common practice called ‘Measuring to the Saint’. If you needed spiritual or physical help or healing, your body was measured from head to toe with a length of string or thread, which was then sent to the nearest Cathedral or Abbey, where the monks would make a candle from it, light it and pray for your eternal soul.

Inspired by this simple act of connection and illumination, artist Michelle Rumney is using this medieval practice of ‘Measuring to the Saint’ to create the Lent Art Installation for Southwark Cathedral in 2020. The installation will be on show in Southwark Cathedral from Ash Wednesday, 26 February to Good Friday, 10 April.

Reflecting on the ritual of pilgrimage and the fragile but powerful strength of our connections with each other through time and space, this year’s artwork traces Thomas Becket’s last journey from Southwark to Canterbury 850 years ago.

Twelve wax candles representing people with a connection to pilgrimage, including Thomas Becket and Marion Marples, who led many pilgrimages from Southwark will line the altar rail. These candles are as tall as the person they represent and will be lit in their memory every day throughout Lent. Lengths of string representing the 850 people ‘Measured to the Saint’ by Michelle are formed into a veil which will mask the altar itself.