Yesterday I went again on the annual LMS pilgrimage to Holywell. This was my third such pilgrimage, having done so in 2012, and about which I posted in Pilgrimage to Holywell and in Pictures of the Holywell Pilgrimage, and last year, which I wrote about in A Pilgrimage to Holywell.
I travelled up with a friend who drove us, his Mini filled for much of the journey with the sound of Gregorian chant from his CD player.
We arrived in a heavy rain storm, with part of the Irish Sea being dumped upon us as we climbed up by ourselves from the car park to the church - but, well, when it comes to stereotypical images what better represents Wales on a Sunday afternoon - a viewpoint which is, I know from past experience of holidays in the Principality, grossly unfair.
The celebrant at the High Mass in the very handsome and beautifully cared for parish church was Fr Richard Bailey Cong.Orat. from Manchester. I was particularly struck by the beauty of the liturgy and the calm efficiency with which it was performed.
Following the Mass there was the usual procession saying the rosary down to the eponymous Holy Well of St Winefride itself. This lies at the bottom of the hill on which the church and town centre stands. It is a quite remarkable place, set in the complex and exquisite well chamber built about 1500. It is striking to think that the site has been a place of pilgrimage since, apparently, the seventh century. Amongst famous pilgrims of the past there was, almost exactly six centuries ago in 1415 King Henry V on the eve of the Agincourt campaign.
We stood around the Well, recited the litany of St Winefride, venerated the relic of her, lit candles, and I dipped my rosary in the pool.
There was, inevitably, a trip to the sizeable Shrine shop to buy cards and medals for oneself and for friends in my prayers
For our return - and now the weather was warm and sunny - we had Mozart's Vespers on the CD player, though I felt we should be in a great Austrian Baroque church rather than my friend's mini to get the full effect.
We cam back through Hope (nice looking late medieval church tower), the edge of Wrexham, with a distant view of the great tower of the church there, round the edge of Oswestry with its memories of the death of St Oswald and the edge of Shrewsbury, with its signs to the Battlefield Enterpise Park, recalling the battle of 1403.
The traffic was snarling up, so we re-routed and ate fish and chips, washed down with a mug of Yorkshire tea from a Harry Ramsden's at a service station - very ethnic cuisine.
A splendid and holy day out, and a spiritual and physical tonic.