Friday, 29 August 2014

Prayer Stone

I previously mentioned my daughter's happy stones. I also found in my collection of curios a prayer stone. This is something I bought at Pennant Melangell, a tiny church tucked away in a Welsh valley.

This church has been an important focus of pilgrimage for many centuries. Nowadays, the place is perhaps not so well known (probably to its advantage). It was once deemed to be a site of great spiritual importance. In the Middle Ages, a certain numbers of pilgrimages to Pennant Melangell, were deemed to be the equivalent of pilgrimages further afield to the better known sites such as Canterbury, Rome etc. To have completed such pilgrimage earned one remission of one's sins.

Today there are still those to whom this site holds a personal significance - although it should be noted that it no longer has anything to do with the penance system operating in the past.

Pilgrimages have also changed. They are nothing like the journeys one associates with the Canterbury Tales. When I went to Pennant Melangell, the word pilgrimage was used by some. In that case, the pilgrimage, if that is really the right word, simply entailed driving to the pub - about a mile away - and then walking to the church and back. There was hardly time to tell a tale, although the odd funny story was possible. (I can't see that as worthy of being forgiven any misdemeanour at all!)

The idea of the prayer stone, if I remember correctly, is to pray with something tangible in one's hand thereby making the act of prayer more concrete and real and having something by which to remember the prayer. I simply liked the image of the cross in the form of a Celtic knot.