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The Cave of Faith: BBC Radio 4, June 28 Presented by Martin Palmer

June 21, 2012:

Cave. PHOTO: Katia Marsh

On Thursday June 28, from 13.45 to 14.00 BBC Radio 4 will broadcast a programme titled Cave of Faith.

This is the fourth of of a week of programmes exploring the Cave in culture and imagination. Cave of Faith is written and narrated by ARC's Martin Palmer and features Adjoa Andoh reading an extract from the following poem by Jay Ramsay, written while he was poet-in-residence during ARC's launch of the Green Pilgrimage Network at Assisi, Italy in November.


by Jay Ramsay 1.

Walking in the pre-dawn streets
as if on a mission, hooded in silence
passing out of the hollow arch
of the city gate…

Nothing to say.
Brief spurts of humour returning to silence
back on our trackways—
and all the road a climbing.

Brother, save your breath.

The light is coming. Slowly, the light
the cypress trees like black flames in silhouette
at a high bend, and then

PHOTO: Katia Marsh

everything is being born out of the silence
the first birds’ pinpricks of song
as the stars fade one by one

and the mist like a sea of cloud below
the sun will reach and thin to a veil

as we walk in his footsteps
that are also our own

the light slowly rising as we rise

and no comforting signs to say
we’re almost there…

Only the pink-rimmed clouds,
only these railings protecting the rich villa
until finally Eremo di Carceri, 1km
(‘we’ve only walked 1km ?!’)
above it all.

Above the city
above the olive groves
above the bankers
and the MacDonald’s taxis…

we stand at the threshold, and the gates magically open.


PHOTO: Katia Marsh
He stands in green
rain oxidized bronze
in his tunic and bare feet
with his hands spread

open as the air
on a plinth of rock
all these trees around him
his face raised, awake

resurrected living man
returned to Nature
and Spirit, as one
a circle behind him

and I, returned
into the Circle of Creation.


The ramp with its railing leads down
we come into the courtyard in silence.
Flowers on the edge, the trees plunging below.

A brother stirs inside the building.
Another begins tuning a guitar.
We file down into the chapel to sit.
A sister is busily attending to the pews.

Lectio Divina, if we could just breathe.
Be still and know that I am here.
The birdsong rises from among the trees.
Oh listen, only listen, and you will know.


The bronze brothers gesture
at the edge of the Zona Sacra.
We try to decipher them.
One is simply lying as if asleep
his arms surrendered, stretching back.

The building rises through the curtain of the trees
on what was once anonymous rock.

The chapel without a roof.
Altar and dew-damp pews.
The priest is air and death.

PHOTO: Katia Marsh
You can walk on and on here.

Returning, the rock covered
in scores of tiny scratched crosses
chalk-white on the grey.

Faith, prayer, hope, magic
in the hands that made them:
pleading for intercession.


At some point, you enter in
at the end of trying.

We find the back way in,
the smallest door you can imagine

its stone frame polished rock-red.
No Entry it says.

You pass inside the rock.
You squeeze inside yourself.

Here it is. Here he was.
Here is a hollow depression in the stone
where his small body slept.

Tiny windows. The valley below.

The silence within. Inside the mountain.
The still small voice. At last, you’re listening.

It opens a cave inside your heart
behind, within, above, beneath everything.

And you can enter in.

Assisi, 2011. Copyright ARC


Green Pilgrimage Network Project

Green Pilgrimage Network launches in Assisi

Katia Marsh photography

Jay Ramsay

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November 1, 2011:
PPRESS RELEASE: Green Pilgrimage Network launches
A ban on cars on pilgrimage routes; solar panels for cathedral roofs; provision of fresh clean, water for pilgrims, and the planting of thousands of trees around sacred sites - these are just some of the initiatives which the founder members of the Green Pilgrimage Network today pledged to implement.
Green pilgrimage network members
The vision is of pilgrims on all continents and the pilgrim cities that receive them, leaving a positive footprint on the Earth
June 21, 2012:
The Cave of Faith: BBC Radio 4, June 28 Presented by Martin Palmer
This is the fourth of a series of five programmes exploring aspects of caves. Presented by Martin Palmer and featuring a beautiful poem written by Jay Ramsey during our Assisi event, about the hermitage cell of St Frances