A pilgrimage is a spiritual journey, it can be physical or mental, designed to deepen your relationship with God. The Pilgrimage of Flat Saint Nicholas is a tool to help children during the season of Lent attend to some prayer time each day and to expose them to a variety of spiritual practices.
Let Flat Saint Nicholas take you on a Lenten pilgrimage to meet and learn a bit about Christian saints. Each day, you will meet a new saint. You will get some background on that saint, a related activity, and an invitation to pray or reflect. Do as many activities as you can; if you can't do them all, that is okay, too. The saints, with a few additions, match the saints in 2015 Lent Madness, the popular Lent activity from Forward Movement.
You will meet 40 saintly companions. Perhaps they will inspire you to follow Jesus in new ways, so that you can be a witness of the Good News of God in Christ. Perhaps you will invite the saints to pray for you, for they are also companions with us in our earthly pilgrimage. . . . there lies a brighter, deeper truth in God’s grace at work in the world. This Lenten season, we invite you to draw closer to our Lord Jesus. Give up those things which keep you away from Jesus. Take on those things that bring you closer to Jesus.
—Tim Schenck and Scott Gunn, for Lent Madness
Flat Saint Nicholas Lenten Pilgrimage may be used by a single family or offered to families by a church. See suggestions below.
Materials & Equipment
Cardstock, purple and white
Laminating sheets, optional
Crayons or markers
Glue or adhesive
• Print PDFs (below) on cardstock:
Labyrinth activity board and saint cards on purple or white;
Flat Nicholas figures on white;
• Cut out labyrinth (if printed on paper, glue to a piece of cardboard);
• Color small Flat Saint Nicholas; fold on line above miter; glue two sides together, don't get glue on bottom half circles; cut out figure;
• Cut out circle base;
• Fold bottom tabs out, glue tabs to base to make stand-up figure;
• Color and cut out optional large Flat Nicholas, if using;
• Cut out the 40 saint cards (a paper cutter works well);
• Put cards in an envelope to keep them together;
• If using large Flat St. Nicholas, color, cut out, and laminate for a stronger figure.
• Begin on Ash Wednesday, continuing each day in Lent. Pick a Saint card, any card. Draw again if that particular activity would be better on another day.
• Read the card.
• Do the activity, if you can.
• Move Flat Saint Nicholas figure to "1" when you finish the first activity.
• Color the path up to the next number "stop" on the labyrinth path.
• Repeat each day.
Try to do one card each day, Monday through Saturday (remember that Sundays aren't counted as a Lenten days). If you get behind, you can do a card on Sunday to catch up, or do more than one card in one day.
As a family, reflect and pray together:
• What are you learning about God's saints?
• What are you learning about following Jesus?
• How has this changed the way you live?
1) The majority of the Saints match the saints going head to head in 2015 Lent Madness, a Lent bracket competition organized by Forward Movement. If adults in the household are participating in Lent Madness, use the 2015 Saintly Scorecard booklet to learn more about each saint.
2) Do more research on the saints at your local library, online or through these books: online Butler’s Lives of the Saints, Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints, a book of all the Saints in the Episcopal Church’s liturgical calendar, and Can You Find the Saints? Introducing Your Child to Holy Men and Women by Philip D. Gallery.
3) Add a family lenten practice to your pilgrimage. If your family has chosen to give up television for lent, you can take a picture with large Flat Nicholas doing the activities that have replaced watching television, such as, playing a board game or making dinner together. If your family is going to donate food to a local shelter or pantry weekly, take a picture with large Flat Nicholas as you shop, bag or donate.
4) While doing activities, take pictures with large Flat Nicholas.
PDF files to print on purple and/or white cardstock
Suggestions for church or parish use
1) Link to files to be downloaded;
2) Prepare kits (PDFs printed, put into a 9 x 12-inch envelope) for families to pick up;
3) Ask people to post their large Flat Nicholas photos on your church Facebook page or bring to put on a bulletin board at the church;
4) Label pictures: Flat Nicholas Pilgrimage with Saint ________.
If you are in a tradition that doesn’t recognize all of these Holy women and men, substitute appropriate saints from your tradition. This activity was designed from the Episcopal tradition, but it is easily augmented for other traditions. If you need help, ask your priest/pastor or Christian formation director.
Can You Find Saints? Introducing Your Child to Holy Men and Women by Philip D. Gallery, illustrated by Janet L. Harlow, St. Anthony Messenger Press/Novalis, 2003
Introduction to about 75 saints in "find Waldo" style. There are 13 searches with detailed illustrations and a parents' guide for each search. There is just a bit of information on each saint.
Purchase from amazon.com, amazon.ca or amazon.uk.
Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints from Church Publishing, 2010
All the saints in the Episcopal Church liturgical calendar (more than 300 included); Scripture readings, a collect, a Eucharistic preface, and a narrative are given for each person commemorated.
Purchase from amazon.com, amazon.ca or amazon.uk.
Adapted from Pilgrimage of Flat Nicholas by the Rev. Shivaun Wilkinson, St. Nicholas Episcopal Church, Darnestown, Maryland, 2015. Used by permission.