In 2015 we celebrated the 800th anniversary of St. Mary’s Land (in Latin: Terra Mariana), It was in 1215 that Bishop Albert of Riga dedicated these lands to the Blessed Virgin Mary and a pilgrimage to Mother’s Land was made equal to a pilgrimage to Son’s Land in Palestine.
In 2012 an idea emerged through discussions in the circle of friends of the Pirita Convent to launch a pilgrimage trail across St. Mary’s Land. The idea put forth by Lagle Parek soon got wind beneath its wings. And now we have put the idea on a sound footing, as over the past few summers we have marked many paths.
There were different opinions about the pilgrimage route. Should the landmarks be Christian sites or should we include some cultural and historical sites as well? Should the route be as direct as possible, or should it be more sensible to avoid big roads and choose more peaceful paths and more exciting places?
A pilgrimage is the journey that a believer makes to a holy place, a journey toward God, a journey of self-discovery. If anyone is interested in learning more about history or culture of the place, the choice is theirs.
We are trying to launch a trail that begins at the Pirita Convent and ends at the chapel of Vana-Vastseliina Castle; the Holy Cross inside the chapel was the destination for pilgrims already in the Middle Ages. We are planning a route where there are places of rest and prayer for believers, who have set off on a spiritual journey, but we have also thought of a pilgrim, who is curious to know about the places on the route, about local people and their work, i.e. the sites that offer a blend of historical, cultural and spiritual experience.
We are half way there. The pilgrimage route across St. Mary’s Land is still under development.
Dear fellow pilgrims, may these lines of an old Celtic prayer accompany us on our journey:
Be Thou a smooth way before me,
Be Thou a guiding star above me,
Be Thou a keen eye behind me,
This day, this night, for ever.