The Holy Cross Church, Ilam

Recent Photograph of The Holy Cross Church (Ilam)

Pilgrims from all over the world visit the Shrine of St Bertolin inside Ilam Church. It has been a site of pilgrimage since Saxon times, his death occurring in the early eighth century. His resting place is now covered with a slab, over which is a beautiful marble altar tomb, to be found in the small chapel dedicated to him south of the chancel. Pilgrims leave their prayers and supplications on the tomb, all of which are read, collated, and included in prayers in the following Sunday's services.

The church itself although also built at a later date retains some traces of Saxon stonework, in a blocked up doorway in the south wall, and the font is Saxon, decorated around the sides with sculptures depicting episodes in the saint's life.

St Bertolin was the son of one of the Kings of Mercia, but when his wife and child were slain by wolves when out in the forest, he renounced his royal heritage and devoted the rest of his life to prayer and devotion. His Feast Day is September 9th.

(Information provided by Rosemary Lockie)

Price, Clive - Pilgrims' Prayers. Article published in Peak District Magazine (Dalesman Publications), August 2000, pp28-30.

Image contributed by Alf Beard on 17th May 2002.
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