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Pilgrims’ Progress: Journal Entries from a 60th Anniversary Pilgrimage – #14

On August 15, 2019, thirteen Canadian Jesuits noted their 60th Anniversary as members of the Society of Jesus.  Two members of this group – Charlie Pottie Pate, SJ and David Eley, SJ  – have chosen to make a special pilgrimage to mark the occasion.  They have graciously agreed to share their journal entries and photos with igNation which will post them once or twice a week.

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Another beautiful day weather-wise here in Helsinki. Breakfast with Dominican Bro. Gabriel. Then we decided to do the Bus trip through Helsinki – the Hop on Hop off that they had in other cities. It’s a great way to get a sense of the city, its history and important cultural sites.

Each of these “Nordic” cities that we are visiting are endowed with beautiful harbor and islands as well.  But the cities, like Helsinki, has grown from the harbor area outward. This city, I find, is particularly beautiful with its main harbor and the various sections of the city – old and original town, then the new town and with that new buildings, like Theatre, music halls, and new museums and sculptures, like the one dedicated to Jean Sibelius, the best known Finnish composer;  beach areas, parks,  shopping areas.

We went through all of this with a commentator giving us the background and importance of each place.  When we returned from the bus trip of city to the Senate plaza,  we went up to see the inside of the Lutheran Cathedral which is on top of the Senate plaza stairs. An imposing structure and quite beautiful with white walls and golden dome and turrets outside.

Inside it’s quite plain and almost austere – the usual lovely painting behind the altar table; but also had 3 statues of important figures of Lutheran history – statue of Martin Luther, his fellow theologians Melanchthon and Agricola,  along the sides.  Then there was this beautiful pipe organ in the back.  As we were leaving they said there was a free concert at noon with this organ. So we stayed for 15-20 mins.  Beautiful and restful.  I did record the last piece by Bach but it is too large to send.

We had a very pleasant lunch in this area (plenty of them on side streets from the Senate plaza). We had a popular Finnish beer, some white raw fish with tartar sauce and a bowl of salmon soup, along with hearty brown bread. MMmmm. It was plenty.

Then we decided to do the boat cruise into the harbour and the different islands. We had bought the combined bus and boat cruises.  This was great, even better than the bus trip because of the fresh air and the sites one can’t see by bus, like the old fortress guarding Helsinki, the boats and yachts that the Finnish people like with beaches lining the seashore and a view of some of the sites we passed on the bus but from a different perspective in the harbour.

I think I got too much sun today. I felt I was “hot headed” as it were. They said my face was quite red.  Did get a snooze in before Vespers and dinner with the Dominican cty.  One of brothers went and got some cream to put on my face. Don’t want the people coming tomorrow to think I have high blood pressure and that I’m reading to blow at any moment!!

It was lovely sharing this meal with the community who have welcomed us and been very hospitable and generous – only two of them.  Then they helped me set up the room and video for the presentation tomorrow.  There are 40 people registered. Wasn’t expecting that many. Looking forward to sharing with our Lutheran brothers and sisters the charism of St Ignatius. They have already been introduced to him….

That’s all for now. It’s still light out but it’s time for bed!