Collection: Holy Family, A Pilgrim

ARTIST: Br. Mickey McGrath, OSFS


This painting began its life as the sketch of a Romanesque column in a French cathedral. It shows the Holy Family as immigrants on a journey together reminding us to keep in prayer the many people around the world today on the same migration journey.
—Br. Mickey McGrath

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The Holy Family on Pilgrimage

H. N. Grimley, M. A.

Luke 2:41-42.


Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover....


Every year they went up to Jerusalem. Very pleasant must their journey have been. Very different was it from the journeys we make in this Western isle. No wide road led from Nazareth to Jerusalem. The eighty miles of ground that stretched between the village and the city was only crossed by narrow paths. The journey had to be made on foot. Here and there would be a mule carrying someone too feeble to walk the whole distance. Each village on the route would furnish its little cluster of pilgrims, and as the new-comers mingled with those who were already in the pilgrim band, pleasant would be the greetings passing from one to another. We can picture them to ourselves as they wind through the valleys and at times cross the brow of a projecting hill. We can hear their voices raised in song, raised so that the hills resound, and the awakened echoes bid you think that the mountains are clapping their hands for joy. You perhaps have noticed in the Psalms as they are given in the Bible, here and there, the heading, "Song of Degrees." They are the psalms which the pilgrims sang at they stepped along — processional hymns we might call them. Turn to two of them (Psalm 121. and 122.) and see how wonderfully fitting are their words for that exulting singing which. . the pilgrims would encourage one another to give utterance to. "We can well imagine Psalm 122, being sung by the pilgrims when first the walls and palaces of the Holy City appeared in sight. The Gospel tells that when Jesus was twelve years old He was for the first time taken by His parents on pilgrimage to Jerusalem. You may be sure that He would take a boy's delight in the journey. It was one which would enable Him to open His eyes upon His Father's beautiful world, and to see beyond the blue mountains which always seemed so mysterious in the distance as He looked upon them from the vale of Nazareth. We may be sure that He would be on the look-out with all a boy's eagerness, for the first view of the distant towers of the Holy City. He would enjoy, too, the companionship of the other pilgrim-boys. There were, as the story itself tells us, many of His kinsfolk among the pilgrim band, and He would pass from one group to another, and be welcomed by all whom He approached. When the solemn days at Jerusalem were ended, the company of pilgrims started back for their homes. The Child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem. You all know how Joseph and Mary sought Him. I will not now ask you to contemplate the scene in the Temple portico, where He was at length discovered. It is a scene of great beauty, and one on which the thoughts of Christian teachers and Christian artists have reverently pondered ever since it has been described on the Gospel page. But the story of our Lord's pilgrimage is one on which our thoughts may well rest, one which we may well take to our homes and ponder over. We have in it an example set which we should never lose sight of. When twelve years old, children were considered old enough to go with their parents to the great worship of the whole year at Jerusalem. The way of the pilgrimage was made glad with songs such as would stir the young heart. In our Christian services, too, we ought to think of children just as did the dwellers in the Holy Land, in their Jewish Services. Again, all lifelong we should be conscious that we are but sojourners and pilgrims upon earth. "Here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come."