‘The Padley Martyrs’ Way’ – a Pilgrim Valley of Hope.

We shouldn’t ignore the possibility of a ‘touch of grace’, from the Holy Spirit, in our lives. Something that our ongoing Synodal journey is reminding us all of. Decide for yourself, in the details of this ‘Padley Martyrs’ Way’, related story.

It was a delight to see Therese’s article ‘A pilgrim walk to Padley, down memory lane’, in the ‘Hearts in Search of God’, Summer Newsletter (August 2023).

Hallam Diocese’s, ‘Friends of Padley Chapel’ had been wondering if we could identify the two pilgrims who arrived at Padley Chapel at the end of their pilgrim walk.  Possibly our first, ‘out of Dicocese’ pilgrims.

When the pilgrims arrived and proudly declared an end to their journey, we were vaguely aware of the national project for pilgrimages, in all of England’s Dioceses. Without a stamp to accredit their pilgrimage officially, we offered a Padley Chapel badge as confirmation of their pilgrimage. It was warmly accepted. Phil McCarthy has graciously, sent us a Pilgrim stamp, so that we are now better prepared, to be able to acknowledge Pilgrim’s completion of this ‘Way’.

We only recognised from reading Therese’s article, that she was once a student of Notre Dame High School, Sheffield. The Chapel guides who welcomed her, had strong connections with the school, either through their children’ education or teaching there.

I shared with them, the sense of co-incidence, that the Sheffield Universities’ Chaplaincy students, had completed this Hallam Pilgrimage recently, in the same week I joined a walk exploring a possible route for a ‘ Padley Martyrs’ Pilgrimage – Padley to Derby’, walking the likely route of the Blesseds Ludlam, Garlick and the Fitzherbert household, along the Derwent to
 St Mary’ Bridge Chapel in Derby, where the Blesseds were martyred, July 1588.  So, the whole route from Sheffield Castle to St Mary’s Chapel Bridge Derby, was completed in the same week , without any co-ordination.

The mid sections of the ‘Derwent Vally Heritage Way’, is the most likely route of a  ‘Padley Martyrs’  Way -Padley to Derby’. The River Derwent has carved a route for peoples across the landscape, for thousands of years. Even more convinced, by seeing centuries old flood management in the landscape, that directed travellers away from the edge of the Derwent, even along an Iron Age ‘Portway’ route.

The Hallam Diocese’s ‘Friends of Padley Chapel’ have certainly taken inspiration from the ‘ Hearts in Search of God’ project. In order to ensure that Padley Chapel, continues to be shared as a ‘spiritual treasure’ we are exploring, the amazing history of individuals (many as recusants), who maintained the Catholic faith, in the Hope Valley and the High Peak Derbyshire, despite persecution. The history we are encountering, also identifies the shared Christian cultural heritage and understanding between Christian denominations, in the most difficult of circumstances. Futhermore, whilst acting as guides at Padley Chapel, we experience positive, appreciative and enquiring responses from visitors of different faiths and of none.

‘Pope Francis has declared that 2025 will be a Jubilee, a Holy Year, and the theme he has chosen is Pilgrims of Hope’

Padley Chapel, is in the Hope Valley. It was a ‘valley of hope’, for many Catholics of the High Peak and for others, who walked to it, over the centuries.  Let us aim to be guided by the Holy Spirit’s ‘touches of grace’ in our lives, in this year of preparation for the Jubilee 2025, as ‘followers of the Way’.

Gerard Bonner
Friends of Padley Chapel
Hallam Diocese
December 2023

This article was first published Hearts in Search of God Website.