01 August 2018, The Tablet

I happily touch or kiss the pilgrim-worn statue of St James at Compostela

Villagers kiss statue of Virgin Mary during a ceremony in the village of Al-Qaa, a Christian stronghold in Lebanon, 2017. Pic by PA


I REMEMBER when I first saw someone touch a statue in a religious way. It was in 1971 in St Anselm’s church, Tooting Bec, a busy if at the time rather grubby house of God. I was a bit shocked, having been brought up in a genteel suburb where worshippers kept their distance from images.

It doesn’t shock me now. I certainly don’t think it is against the First Commandment to touch a statue of the Virgin Mary or of St Jude. My current practice seems to be culturally determined. I happily touch or kiss the pilgrim-worn statute of St James at Compostela. At home I tend to keep my lips to myself.

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