This 3 mile, Lenten, walk has three prayer stations. You might choose to take them in any order. I started in the Cathedral.
I) In days gone by somewhere below the organ, close to the Holy Innocents Chapel (9 on the plan) , was the shrine of William of Norwich. The twelve year old was killed in Holy Week 1144 AD and his death was blamed on the Jewish Community. Riots ensued. A note in chapel explains that it is is now “a place of prayer for the ending of intolerance and reconciling of people of different faiths or none.”
My path took me over Bishop’s Bridge, where I turned north and followed Riverside and Gurney roads onto Mousehold Heath. At Zaks I headed left away from the road and followed various tracks to the next station.
2) At the northern edge of the heath, close to Mousehold Lane, to west of Gurney Road, and just east of the Wingfield football pitch four stones mark where St. William’s Chapel once stood. This place of pilgrimage is where his tortured body was found.
From here I crossed east over Gurney Road and turned south on a maze of tracks to arrive back at the road where it forks left towards the prison.
3) With my back to the prison and my face towards the setting sun I could see both Castle and Cathedral. Each played a part in this sad story. The threatened Jewish Community were given protection in the Castle. The Cathedral promoted the cult of St. William and with it an unrestrained anti-Semitism.
One of its monks – Thomas of Monmouth – wrote a Life of St.William in which he claimed Jews sacrificed a Christian child every year at Passover time! Over the years this, so called, blood libel was repeated time and again.
By 1290 the Jews were expelled from England and there was worse to come. They continued to be persecuted right down to the 20th century and the Nazi death camps!
A green hill, outside the city wall and close to a place of punishment – the prison – is good place to have Lenten thoughts about truth and justice. Ash Wednesday’s sooty cross requires us to remember those things of which we’re ashamed. How else should we know what sins to turn from ?
I was left wondering what bits of my own life history I had chosen to forget?