The latest title in the series of Braemor Studies, which highlights the best dissertations produced by students of the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, is now available. St Patrick’s Pilgrimages – Journey to Place, Journey to God is written by the Rev Karen Salmon, who is currently curate at Willowfield Parish Church, East Belfast, Diocese of Down and Dromore.
The book explores the relationship between people and pilgrimage in Ireland in the 21st Century, incorporating reflections and interviews with pilgrims as well as a detailed look at the scholarship and history of pilgrimage in the Christian Church.
Ms Salmon remarks: “The geographical diversity of St Patrick’s pilgrimage sites attracted me to include a traditional walk, an island and a mountain in my study. I was interested in the impact these places had on the lives of pilgrims and the revelation of God associated with each place. Pilgrims said the benefits of pilgrimage were physical slowing, stilling, strengthened faith, perseverance, changed perspective and transformation through an encounter with God and others.”
The Rev Canon Dr Maurice Elliott, Director of the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, says: ‘The practice of pilgrimage is becoming increasingly important across a broad range of Christian traditions as a means of strengthening discipleship. In this thoughtful study, Karen Salmon deftly explores the particular Irish heritage of St Patrick’s pilgrimages, and offers a rich digest of both theological themes and pastoral insights. In many ways the potential of his book is best captured in the author’s chosen sub-title – journeys to sacred places, rightly embraced, can enable those who undertake them to discover a true sense of journeying deeper in their own walk with God. I wholeheartedly commend this work.’
Dr Bridget Nichols, the supervisor for the dissertation and Lecturer in Anglicanism and Theology at the Theological Institute, adds: ‘This original and illuminating study has grown from a splendid seminar paper into an exciting and valuable contribution to understanding the place of St Patrick across the ecumenical spectrum in Ireland, and even beyond faith communities. Karen Salmon’s journeys to pilgrimage sites and interviews with both pilgrims and site curators provide a richly textured and authentic picture of the motives for pilgrimage and the experiences of those who undertake them.’
The Braemor series is published with support and assistance from the Church of Ireland’s Literature Committee and the Representative Church Body Library, Dublin. St Patrick’s Pilgrimages, along with other titles in the series, is available to purchase from the Church’s online bookstore.