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Funding hopes for Cistercian Way

April 20 2004:

A relic from a 17th century Welsh Saint has become one of the factors in hopes for European funding for a new footpath around sacred Wales.

When accused of coming back into England without authority John Roberts said that he was sent into England "by the same authority by which Saint Augustine, the apostle of England, was sent, whose disciple he was, being of the same order, and living under the same rules in which he lived, and that for the profession and teaching of that religion, which Saint Augustine planted in England, he was now condemned to die...." From the Catholic website
St John Roberts was a Welsh-born protestant who converted to Catholicism and became a monk during the great anti-Catholic persecutions of the early 17th century.

He was based in France but went over to England several times as a missionary. On December 5 1610 he was convicted of “being a priest” and five days later he was hanged, drawn and quartered on the notorious Tyburn Hill in London.

The saint’s arm is now said to be one of the relics in the church of Santiago de Compostela in Northern Spain, one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Europe and one that many medieval pilgrims from Wales would have visited and indeed continue to visit.

Organisers of the Cistercian Way hope this link between European and Welsh monasticism will be a major factor in gaining funding through the EU Interreg 3 programme, which concentrates on building links between France, Ireland, Spain and Wales.

The Welsh initiative builds on the Sacred Land Project co-ordinated by ARC, and embodies the partnership between sacred sites and ecology, local communities and national and international organisations.

It combines spiritual, ecological and historical issues.

The route, which is developing into the longest long-distance footpath in Britain, will pass through the village of Trawsfynndd, Gwynedd. This was the birthplace of St John Robert and is located in the internationally known Snowdonia National Park.

Representatives from local Authorities throughout Wales are currently working on finalising the route of the Cistercian Way footpath as it passes through their jurisdiction, as well as looking at the opportunities this project will bring.

The officers from Denbighshire County Council have already agreed with the project’s steering group - ARC, The University of Wales, UWCN and Churches Tourism Network Wales (CTNW) - that the Cistercian Way will link to, and in some cases use existing paths of, Offa’s Dyke, the Dee Valley Way, the Hiraethog and Coastal Path.

They have also agreed to support a route that will include a route from Holywell and Basingwerk across to St Asaph and down the Vale of Clwyd to Llangollen, with optional spurs off to churches and monuments on the Medieval Trail, including Llantysilio and Lanynys.

It is hoped that the agreed map of the footpath and driving route will be available by this summer and that the full route will be agreed by all the authorities of Wales by the summer of next year


* Read what pilgrims on the Cistercian Way had to say.

* Find out more about the Cistercian Way project at the University of Wales website.

* Get more information on the Forty Martyrs.

* Get more information on St John Roberts.

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