The Way of Our Lady of Light – 68-mile, 7 days

Pilgrim Way for the Diocese of Brentwood from the Cathedral of St Mary & St Helen in Brentwood to the Shrine of Our Lady of Light in Clacton-on-Sea.

NB the route can only be used during summer when the ferries at Brightlingsea are working. In addition the causeway to West Mersea can be closed at some high tides. During the winter pilgrims can follow the waymarked 38-mile St Peter’s Way, which follows the same route as the Way of Our Lady of Light for the first 9 miles to the village of Stock. It then follows the waymarked St Peter’s Way to the Chapel of St Peter at Bradwell-on-Sea where St Cedd landed in 653AD on his mission to the East Saxons.

The Way leaves Brentwood and crosses farmland to reach the Catholic Church of St John the Evangelist and St Erconwald, Ingatestone and soon after the recusant house of Ingatestone Hall. It then turns east to Stock and passes the Catholic Church of Our Lady & St Joseph and soon joins the St Peter’s Way.

From Stock the Way of Our Lady of Light takes a more northerly direction on the Saffron Way to the Church of the English Martyrs in Danbury. The Way then crosses gentle country to the Church of the Assumption of Our Lady at Maldon. The Way continues east along the English Coast path on the north of the River Blackwater before crossing marshland and a tidal causeway to reach the Church of St Cedd & St Gregory, West Mersea.

The Way follows the coast path and then a ferry to the Church of St Sabina at Brightlingsea. Another ferry takes pilgrims to St Clear and the path follows the estuary to the former Augustinian Priory of St Osyth, before a final stretch along the coast to the Church and Shrine of Our Lady of Light & St Osyth, Clacton-on-Sea.

Devotion to Our Lady of Light started with a Jesuit, Fr Giovanni Genovesi, who was born in Sicily in 1684. He wanted a representation of the Our Lady to take with him to display as he preached. He asked the help of a devout woman who reported a vision of the Virgin bathed in a glorious light, surrounded by a host of seraphim. In the vision she told the woman that she wished to be called Mary Most Holy Mother of Light. A painter was found and after 1722 the resulting picture was carried by Fr Genovesi. The devotion spread and in 1736, Pope Clement XII authorized the veneration of Mary under this title. The original picture was destroyed when the Church of Casa Professa in Palermo was bombarded in 1943.

The Diocese of Brentwood covers the traditional county of Essex, an area of 3,959 km2 comprising the non-metropolitan County of Essex, the unitary authorities of Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock, and the London boroughs of Barking & Dagenham, Havering, Newham, Redbridge and Waltham Forest, matching Essex’s historic boundaries and the Anglican Diocese of Chelmsford. The Diocese has 82 parishes. It was created on 20 July 1917 from the Archdiocese of Westminster.

Official Website with PDF download route instructions & Pilgrim Passport

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