Both St Edmund’s Church and St Edmundsbury Cathedral have held services to celebrate 1,000 years since the founding of St Edmund’s Abbey.
Many events that were planned for the anniversary have been moved forward to 2021 due to Covid-19. John Saunders, a member of the Abbey 1000 co-ordinating group, said: “While we have had the disappointment of 2020 being marred by the coronavirus, this has led us to even greater determination to roll the year forward.
“We will be providing a large programme of events that will be enjoyable and memorable while recognising the significance of the history of the Abbey.”
Among those events will be a gathering of Benedictine monks and nuns, exhibitions of abbey manuscripts, modern sculptures, musical performances, a community weekend and a lighting spectacular.
For the celebration this year, pupils of St Edmund’s Primary School participated in Mass on 20th November, which was live streamed. The service coincided with the Power of Prayer week organised by the Christian Community of Suffolk.
The celebrant, Fr Mike Brooks, preached on the words of the Lord’s Prayer ‘Deliver us from evil’ and their relevance to the life and martyrdom of St Edmund. He also highlighted Edmund as being one of the patron saints for times of pandemic.
As has become customary, a relic of St Edmund was exposed on the altar. This was generously given to the parish by the former incumbent, Rev Canon Mark Hackeson. A chalice thought to date back to the 16th century was also used during Mass.
Although Covid-19 restrictions remain, two suggested short routes for pilgrimage have been constructed as part of Abbey 1000. The start points from the south or north of the town enable people to re-trace the mediaeval routes of pilgrims, ending in the Abbey Grounds.
Details of the routes and opportunities for reflection appear at www.stedmundkm.org.uk.
Ecumenical pilgrimages from Hulme in Norfolk and Ely to the Abbey Grounds will take place in July 2021 and further details of these will be announced in due course.