A NEW pilgrimage in honour of St Boniface, Devon’s patron saint, was launched on Saturday, October 23 with a series of special events along the route.

The 14-mile St Boniface Way goes from Holy Cross Church in Crediton to Exeter Cathedral.

Boniface was born in Crediton around 675AD and attended a monastery near the Cathedral site.

The route is part of Devon Pilgrim, a Church of England initiative to encourage more people to discover the spirituality and history of Devon’s landscape, churches and Holy sites.

The St Boniface Way has been devised by local groups in Crediton and at Exeter Cathedral.

The Reverend Matthew Tregenza, vicar of Crediton, said: “My own experience of pilgrimage has been allowing myself to be open to God.

“It’s also been about journeying with fellow pilgrims, listening to their story and telling them something of my story.

“I hope that those who walk the St Boniface Way may encounter Christ, not only in the beautiful countryside and the churches that they visit, but in the stories and the lives of their fellow pilgrims.”

The first pilgrims on October 23 walked from Holy Cross Church to Shobrooke Park and to dress the Holy well.

They then went to St Swithun’s Church where they helped to plant more than 300 crocus bulbs in the churchyard.

They were also present when Devon CPRE Director Penny Mills presented St Swithun’s Church representatives with a Highly Commended award in the Devon CPRE 2021 Devon’s Best Churchyard competition.

She particularly praised the volunteers who care for the churchyard and its wildlife and said the churchyard had the “most impressive bug hotel I have ever seen”.

After lunch the pilgrims then journeyed to St Cyr and St Julitta’s Church in Newton St Cyres where they were welcomed with splendid afternoon tea, the official blessing of the route and a family treasure hunt.

The day ended at Exeter Cathedral for a choral service of Compline (night prayer) and a talk by the Dean, the Very Reverend Jonathan Greener.

Sam Upham, Project Officer for Devon Pilgrim, said: “What’s so special about St Boniface Way is that, despite starting in a busy market town, and ending right in the heart of the city, over the course of only 15 miles, you pass through quiet countryside, along stunning rivers and tiny villages. 

“This route shows just how easy it is, even in a busy area like Exeter, to find space and tranquillity.

“Walking St Boniface Way, you come away from the busyness and noise of daily life to stop, to breathe in fresh air and reflect.”

The St Boniface Way is one of a number of new pilgrimage routes linking Devon’s historic churches and ancient holy sites are part of a new project that launched at the Devon County Show in July.

Devon Pilgrim aims to offer all the inspiration and information people need to “take a journey of the heart”.

It has been created by the Diocese of Exeter’s Growing the Rural Church team, working with churches and other volunteers across the region.

Sarah Cracknell, the Growing the Rural Church Project Manager, said: “Devon Pilgrim provides routes across Devon where people can safely walk, following clear directions, so they can focus on the purpose of the journey rather than needing to find their way.

“Pilgrimage is having a resurgence, whether it is the Celtic idea of the inner journey or the medieval tradition of travelling to a specific place to seek help or ask for direction.

“Both of those are still current. People do look for direction in times of need or to understand the purpose of their life.

“We also have a greater awareness now of our own wellbeing.”

For more information about the St Boniface Way or to register your interest in the launch day, please visit: www.devonpilgrim.org.uk/events or email: [email protected] or telephone 07399 937732.