Pilgrimage to retrace Cardinal Wolsey’s historic route

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Pilgrimage to retrace Cardinal Wolsey’s historic route

Ipswich is celebrating 550 years since the birth of Cardinal Wolsey in the town. The annual pilgrimage walk, organised by the Guild of Our Lady of Grace, coincides with this celebration of his birth and the city’s religious history. It will take place on Sunday September 3, and will follow Wolsey’s exact route.

Starting at 3 pm, participants will gather at St Peter’s Church on the Quay and proceed to the Shrine of Our Lady of Grace in St-Mary-at-the-Elms via Lady Lane, the shrine’s original location.

The route was planned by Cardinal Wolsey, and it traces the paths once walked by numerous pilgrims. Historically, the Shrine of Our Lady of Grace was a major religious site in England, second only to Walsingham.

Wolsey planned a procession from his college to the shrine, set to take place in September 1528. Our pilgrimage walk, which follows his route, first occurred in September 1978, exactly 450 years to the day later. It has taken place every year since, and this year our walk – an act of worship that includes hymns, prayers, and recitation of the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary – coincides with the town’s celebration of the ‘Wolsey 550’ project. Born in 1473, Ipswich’s renowned figure, Cardinal Wolsey, overcame early criticisms due to his humble background to become an influential figure in the King’s Court.

Between 1526 and 1528, Wolsey returned to Ipswich to establish the Cardinal’s College of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Although his college was eventually dismantled, Wolsey’s influence on Ipswich remains strong.

The Thomas Wolsey 550 project, which began in March 2023, features various events to commemorate Wolsey’s life and contribution to Ipswich.

A highlight of this pilgrimage is the “Wolsey’s Ipswich” exhibition at The Hold, showcasing until October 29. Notably, Wolsey’s cardinal’s hat, borrowed from a University of Oxford college, is on display.

This walk welcomes everyone interested in exploring a mix of local history and tradition. Take part in a spiritual journey that combines Ipswich’s past and present.