The Growing Company of Martyrs by David Douglas

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The Growing Company of Martyrs

Reflections from Canterbury Cathedral’s East Chapel

The day is overcast. Rain has just passed over Canterbury. I have come from London by an easy, non-penitential train journey of 90 minutes; pilgrims in Chaucer’s era would have taken weeks to walk the distance.

I follow the bend of the city wall, past gardens of red-flowering horse chestnut trees, until the cathedral’s bell tower comes into view. For a moment I experience what I felt so briefly on the train: a kindred sense of identity, albeit undeserved, with footsore pilgrims as they approached Canterbury’s spires.