Skip to content

York: Archbishop opens new Pilgrimage Exhibition

Pilgrimage past and present is the focus of an exhibition in York Minster’s Undercroft Museum.

The exhibition, Tourist, Traveller, Pilgrim? was formally opened today by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.
The exhibition explores the experience of pilgrimage, the impact it has on people’s lives and the powerful self-transformation it can bring about.  

Visitors will be encouraged to pick up a Pilgrim Passport which will guide them through the exhibition and help them to understand and interpret the objects on display.

Visitors to the exhibition will be encouraged to:

  • question what a pilgrimage is and what makes a pilgrim
  • consider why we still do pilgrimages today
  • reflect on whether or not they are visiting the Minster as a pilgrim
  • continue to engage with the topic after their visit, with activities included on the Pilgrim Passport

The idea for the exhibition came from the Minster’s staff and volunteers. They wanted to highlight the resting place of St William whose tomb in the Minster’s crypt was the focus for thousands of pilgrims in medieval times. 

The Archbishop met members of the curatorial team who explained the key elements of the exhibition including eye witness accounts of pilgrims through the ages, items used by travellers and precious objects from the Minster Collection including the beautiful Mazer bowl.

In 2015, Dr Sentamu took to the road himself making a six-month Pilgrimage of Prayer, Witness and Blessing around the Diocese of York, an area of 2,261 square miles. Dr Sentamu’s pilgrimage journey was inspired by the great Northern Saints such as Aidan, Cuthbert and Hilda all of whom took to the road to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ. 

Starting at St Mary’s Church Whitby on 1 December 2015 and finishing at York Minster on 22 May 2016, the Archbishop covered 1,578 miles taking 1,627, 226 steps in the process. He prayed with more than 25,100 people in over 480 churches, pre-schools, primary, secondary and sixth form colleges. He also visited 22 hospitals and hospices along the route.

Commenting on the exhibition, Dr Sentamu said: “Pilgrimage is undergoing a wonderful revival in this country with increasing numbers of people, at various stages in their own journeys of faith, taking some time out to discover those ancient Christian routes and to be open to the experiences and people they encounter along the way.

“This exhibition tells the story of pilgrimage and asks visitors to think about the many different journeys they take through their own lives and how they can connect those journeys to something much greater than themselves.”

The exhibition Tourist, Traveller, Pilgrim? is in the Undercroft Museum at York Minster until early in 2018. The exhibition is open from–5pm Monday to Saturday and from 1–5pm on Sundays. Entry to the exhibition is included in the general admission to the Minster.
For more information go to

Get more inspiring reading

To find back issues of the INSPIRE mini-mag - seasonal and themed issues - go to