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Pilgrims’ Progress: Journal Entries from a 60th Anniversary Pilgrimage – #16

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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We have finished tonight the “Nordic” part of our pilgrimage. We head toward England tomorrow morning…..early!

Today is Midsummer’s Day. Most of Helsinki closes down today. People are off to the north to watch the ‘nuit blanche’. There is little darkness this day. And there are events up in north – bonfires, etc to celebrate. Great how the Finns can just stop their regular workday and take this holiday – in fact they say the whole weekend nothing much goes on in Helsinki.

Today we decided to go to the ancient capital, Turku, of Finland. Much of it was destroyed by fire in the 1800’s.. As a result the capital was moved to Helsinki.  But there is still a beautiful medieval cathedral there, plus a gorgeous water walkway, a castle.  It is 2 hr train ride. We finished using our Rail Pass with this trip today.

The landscape was stunning, fields with farm houses. We passed through some forest as well. There are a number of small towns on the way to Turku, so it’s developed area. Turku is west of Helsinki.

We visited the medieval Gothic cathedral for some time. Beautiful lines, and simple. Almost Romanesque in style.  A lot of it had been destroyed by the fire but they restored much of it.  It is still used for regular Sunday and weekday worship. I

By 12:30 we went looking for a little lunch place.  Everything closed along the waterway. We did find a hotel a couple blocks away who had a restaurant open where we bought a shrimp salad and local beer.  Then we went to visit the castle but because of Midsummer’s Day, it closed at 2:30 pm just as we arrived. Anyway, we got to see the outside and the area around it. this time it was departure time on train. Not too many travelling on train. Pleasant trip back.

Then for dinner, the Dominicans Friars invited us to a real Finnish restaurant and dinner. It’s their custom to take out to dinner anyone who gives a lecture or seminar at their centre.  It was in Senate plaza and the Friar had made a reservation. It was delicious – salad with fresh herbs, partly smoked salmon and risotto and veggies. (David had reindeer meat). And a tasty but light dessert (pancake with cream and strawberries.

We had a wonderful conversation about many topics. These two friars (one is from Finland, the other is from France) have been so hospitable to us. It has made this visit to Helsinki special. Dominicans and Jesuits can work together !

So now it is time to say goodbye from the Nordic/Scandinavian countries.  We will go to England to visit David’s family for a couple days then to our retreat.  I hope to write you before and after the retreat but not during it.