Going on a pilgrimage is back in fashion – and St Albans is likely to welcome lots of new visitors as a result.

With perfect timing, the Abbey is being developed to include new welcome and education centres and an exhibition area featuring Alban, Britain’s first saint.

Hundreds of pilgrims from across Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire braved wet weather to gather at the Abbey on Easter Monday. Many more are expected to come for the annual Alban Pilgrimage on Saturday June 23rd.

Pilgrims have been coming to St Albans for hundreds of years and many more are likely to come in future years.

But going on a pilgrimage is more than taking a walk, or visiting somewhere special.

BBC TV recently screened a three-part series tracing the experience of seven celebrities following the pilgrims’ route to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain.

The group – including Gogglebox vicar Kate Bottley, actor Neil Morrissey, entertainer Debbie McGee and singer Heather Small - bonded on the journey as they told their stories and shared their beliefs. On the road, they met other people making the gruelling trek.

This is how pilgrimage has always been. Back in the 14th century, Chaucer told the stories of pilgrims on their way to Canterbury. Today, millions of Muslims make their way to Mecca.

As Jesus headed ultimately for Jerusalem, and his death and resurrection, he performed miracles, taught parables, encouraged his disciples and prepared them to spread his gospel of life and hope.

In pilgrimage as in life, arriving is important. But the journey is just as vital.

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