As part of its 2021 Lent Challenge, pupils from St John Lloyd Primary School in Cardiff walked all the way to Jerusalem.
The journey – all 3,827 miles to the Holy Land – wasn’t done in one go, obviously, but completed a bit at a time, with the pupils counting up their steps during the week, seeing how far they had travelled together on what became a virtual pilgrimage.
The idea came from teacher Miss Chapman who broke the journey down into small stages, setting the children goals each week. Initially she thought the children would only get as far as Canterbury in the first week but they walked so well and collected so many steps that they walked all the way to Ghent in Belgium, where they virtually visited the cathedral of St Bavo.
The next week’s collection of footsteps took the group all the way to Milan in Italy, where they learned about St Ambrose and Pope Paul VI, were both bishops there.
The journey continued through Italy, passing Assisi where they remembered St Francis, and Rome where we prayed for Pope Francis.
Another week of walking took the pupils across the water, (only they had to go by boat as they sensibly reasoned they couldn’t walk on water!), arriving in Trikaala, Greece, where they discovered some of the very earliest Christian churches.
By the following week the intrepid explorers had collectively reached Istanbul in Turkey where Pope John XXIII worked for many years in the Cathedral of St Anthony of Padua.
The last leg of the journey took the children through Syria and Lebanon, finally reaching Jerusalem in time for Palm Sunday.
After completing their task the children were asked why they had picked Jerusalem as their final goal. Perhaps the answer to that comes from David in Year Six who wrote: ‘Jerusalem is a Holy City and it is the most holy place in the world for Christians.
‘Jesus lived much of his ministry in Jerusalem and rode into the city on a donkey while the people waved palms at him. Jesus held the Last Supper in Jerusalem. He was crucified on a cross on a hill called Golgotha and rose from the dead three days later. As a school community we are very proud to spiritually walk to Jerusalem and challenge ourselves to get as close to Jesus as we can.’
The children were so excited each week to see their journey on the map on the school’s Twitter page (@SJLCARDIFF) and find pictures of themselves out walking and to learn about the people and places on the way.
During the journey the school was also reminded of how many special things Jesus did for them all while he was in Jerusalem. You can find these pictures on the school’s Twitter page.
To celebrate their arrival in Jerusalem the whole school took part in aversion of the Jerusalema dance which you can watch on YouTube (search You Tube St John Lloyd-Jerusalem).
On the last day of term the children donated some of their pocket money so that they could actually get into the city – this was so that they were thinking of other people. The ‘entry tax’ to finally be allowed in to Jerusalem raised over £220 for Cafod’s water appeal. Well done, Team SJL!
Picture: St John Lloyd Primary School pupils see how far they have travelled together on their virtual pilgrimage.