A pilgrimage of seven historic Dublin churches reflects on the beauty and crosses of family life.
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The tour mimics the popular Camino de Santiago in Europe, where pilgrims are given a type of passport book that is stamped at each stop along the way.
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The Dublin Camino is a spiritual pilgrimage, one that reflects on various aspects of family life. Archbishop Martin explains in a letter to pilgrims, “Pope Francis speaks of different generations discovering within the family they are part of an age-old pilgrimage through life, where each can learn from the other. This is also true of the Church, the ‘family of families.’ Praying in those places that connect generations of faith in the past to the living faith of today, can give us strength to journey to the future with hope.”
Aleteia’s Philip Kosloski was joined by photojournalist Stephen McElligot on the Dublin Camino, where they walked to each of the seven churches and reflected on the WMOF themes that each church was given.
St. Teresa’s Carmelite Church
At the first station, pilgrims were invited to reflect on the theme of “The Gift of Parents to the Family.” This was a most fitting place to ponder this theme as it will be the final church where the relics of Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin will be available for veneration before the Papal Mass in Phoenix Park. St. Therese of Lisieux wrote once about her parents, “The Lord gave me a father and mother more worthy of heaven than earth. I have had the happiness of belonging to parents who have no equal. God brought it about that I be born in a holy land.” Parents are a great gift to the family and have such power to pass on the faith to their children.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Carmelite Friary (Whitefriars)
The next station on the Camino was another Carmelite church where pilgrims could reflect on “Love at the Heart of the Family.” It again was a fitting church as tradition says that several relics of St. Valentine are preserved in the church. They were a gift from Pope Gregory XVI and are a great reminder that love should be the heartbeat of the family, especially within the spousal relationship. Without love, the family can easily fall apart.
The third station was a church with a rich history where the theme was “The Gift of Grandparents to the Family.” In the 12th century the Normans brought to Ireland a devotion to St. Anne, and ever since there has been a shrine in Dublin dedicated to the grandmother of the Virgin Mary. Grandparents are a great treasure of the family and continue to hold up future generations in the faith.
St. Michan’s (Anglican)
The Dublin Camino features one Anglican church on the route, with the theme of “Fostering the Gift of Forgiveness Among Families.” The church was originally founded in 1095 and pilgrims there are encouraged to pray for all Christian Churches, recognizing the need for forgiveness within the Christian community as well as in families.
St. Michan’s (Catholic)
Nearby is another church dedicated to St. Michan, similarly founded in 1095. Here the theme for pilgrims was, “The Gift of Children to the Family.” As with all churches, St. Michan’s was built by many dedicated families who had their children in mind when creating such a beautiful church. There pilgrims may also be blessed by a relic of Padre Pio, as it is currently being run by Capuchin friars.
The sixth station is a Dominican church where pilgrims reflect on the theme, “God Walks with Families when Times are Tough.” The church was built by the “poor, devout, toil hardened” working people of the area. Here it was good to remember how God is always with us, but most especially when we are at our lowest of lows and in most need of help.
St. Francis Xavier’s
The final stop on the Camino (though pilgrims are also invited to visit St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral on their way to this church) is a Jesuit church where the theme was, “The Role of Teachers in Enriching the Children of our Families.” Within the church many paintings narrate the life of St. Francis Xavier, a great missionary and teacher of the faith. Blessed John Sullivan, SJ, is buried within the church and a small shrine has been dedicated in his honor. He led an inspiring life of holiness and many revered him as a great teacher.
The Dublin Camino is a beautiful testament to the devout faith of the Irish families who built them. It is a reminder to us all that families are meant to thrive within the Church and build it up, not only through material means, but primarily in a spiritual way. We need more families to be beacons of hope in our world, showing to all what it means to live the Christian way of life.