Why are we doing this?
This is a good question, and one that many pilgrims must be asked all the time. For us it was a decision we both made together at the same, exact time. We are both semi retired and have often discussed travelling more in later life. We felt we needed to ‘do something different’ to experience a challenge before old age caught us up…..as it is doing, far too speedily!
We were watching a documentary series about celebrities attempting a small section of the Via Francigena pilgrimage. We had never heard of this particular pilgrimage before and as we watched the documentary we became engrossed with the challenges they were facing and how exciting it looked. When the final episode ended, we simply turned to each other and said “we can do that.” Of course we both know it will be difficult, a real challenge. We will probably suffer blisters, mosquitos bites, aches and pains, and many other downsides along the way. But, we will also meet new people, see, learn and experience new things and visit historic sites along the way too.
The Via Francigena is a 2000 km (1,242 miles) pilgrim way from Canterbury to Rome. The walk follows the route described by Sigeric, Archbishop of Canterbury, when he journeyed to Rome in AD 990 recording his travels along the way. He was going to Rome to collect his cloak of office, from Pope John XV. Often pilgrims would walk the way to Rome and continue towards the port of Puglia where they would make the journey for Jerusalem. Italian pilgrims would follow the road to Rome and upwards to Santiago instead of heading south. The route crosses four European countries: UK, France, Switzerland and Italy; and includes many areas of breathtaking natural beauty and historic interest.
You can learn more about Sigeric’s amazing journey here:
Since deciding to attempt this long pilgrimage, we have read many blogs and viewed many YouTube videos about it. Have any of these dampened our spirits? No, quite the opposite, we are even more excited now than ever before. So, on 20th April 2020 we begin our long journey.
Here are links to the vlog/blogs of those who have inspired us the most during our research.
Logo copyright Confraternity of Pilgrims to Rome, used with permission.