You will all remember that on Sunday 7th April 2013 last, Michael Walsh and Yvonne Tyler commenced a 2000km pilgrimage on foot, from Holycross Abbey to the Cathedral of St. James in Santiago de Compostella Galicia in Spain, in aid of Rehabcare, Thurles, and Cottage Autism Network, Wexford.
On that day, during 11:00am Mass in Holycross Abbey, celebrated by Fr Celcius Tierney, their walking sticks, passports and pilgrim shells were blessed. Their passports were stamped with the Holycross Abbey stamp; the first of many along the way. At a reception in the Community Hall a large crowd of family, friends and supporters shared a cup of tea with Michael and Yvonne before they set off for Cashel on the first leg of this their epic journey.
Mr John Bourke of Holycross Community Network presented the intrepid travellers with two small pendant, tokens of local admiration for the mammoth task they were about to then undertake. These pendants were carved from oak timber, showing the medieval crest of Holycross Abbey (Latter a simple cross in relief, displayed in two shrines inside the Abbey itself ) and sourced courtesy of Abbey sacristan Mr Pat McGrath, from existing timber used to support the roof of Holycross Abbey.
Visitors Note: This medieval crest can be observed carved on the canopy of the Sedilia, (Set of seats provided in some Roman Catholic and Anglican churches for the use of the presiding clergy), beside the English Royal coat of arms and is also on the shrine called “The Waking Bier,” in the Abbeys south transept, displayed in the hands of a kneeling angel. (Note also: Both this Sedilia and Waking Bier are regarded as rare examples of Cistercian art in Ireland.)
Before setting off Mr Michael Long pointed out that the official date for the foundation of Holycross was 1213 AD and this was also the year when the Camino pilgrimages began to visit the tomb of St. James in Spain and so this year is possibly the 800th anniversary of both religious venues.
Michael and Yvonne have now left one of these pendants at the tomb of St. James and have brought the other back with them. Both Yvonne and Michael thanked their family and friends for their support, and point out that without their help they could never have undertaken the journey.
Walking for over 13 weeks they travelled down the west coast of France and joined the Camino Frances at the foot of the Pyrenees, leaving over 800kms still to walk before they would eventually reach the Cathedral in Santiago.
Events On Arrival In Santiago
Every day in the Cathedral of St James in Santiago, Spain, a Pilgrims Mass is held at noon, it welcomes all Pilgrims who have made the journey to Santiago de Compostella. On the 11th of July 2013, Michael and Yvonne completed their Pilgrimage from Holycross Abbey. At this Mass they both together with 14 friends and family members had the privilege of attending this Mass, as guests of Dom Segundo Perez Lopez, the Dean of the Cathedral.
During the mass Michael and Yvonne presented the Holycross Pendants to Dom Segundo Perez Lopez who blessed both Pendants in the following words;
“At this Mass today we welcome two pilgrims from Ireland, Michael Walsh and Yvonne Tyler. They arrived at this Cathedral today having walked every step of the way from the Abbey of Holy Cross in County Tipperary in Ireland. The abbey of Holy Cross like the Cathedral of Santiago became a place of pilgrimage. Michael and Yvonne have made a long journey of faith. Along the way, in France and in Spain they have been joined by 14 other Irish pilgrims. Today they mark their arrival by offering before the Tomb of Saint James wooden medallions depicting the Cross of Christ our Saviour carved from the original wood of the Abbey at Holy Cross. I accept one on behalf of the Cathedral of Santiago and pray that every grace and blessing is bestowed on these worthy pilgrims. I offer them our thanks and congratulations.”
As stated, one of the pendants will now remain in the Cathedral in Santiago, and on Sunday (Tomorrow) September 29th 2013, the remaining Pendant returns once again to Holycross Abbey, as a mark of Michael and Yvonne’s remarkable journey, thus also rightfully linking both buildings as places of Christian Pilgrimage.