Modern Day Pilgrimage
If you are planning to do a modern day pilgrimage, why not start in the beautiful city of Canterbury.
Sigeric's manuscript (now held in the British library) was rediscovered in the 1980s and has subsequently become the focus for academic research and the re-creation of a modern-day pilgrimage route, earning the award of Major Cultural Route by the Council of Europe.
Today's pilgrimage attracts people of all ages and beliefs, their common factor being the need to stand back from the daily pressures and take time to reflect on their lives and the lives of those around them.
On the Via Francigena, the 1,200 mile journey remains a physical challenge, but can be undertaken in stages. Most pilgrims choose to travel on foot, but others opt for bicycles, horses or even cars or public transport. On foot, the entire journey will take about 12 weeks, based on an average of between 15 and 25 miles per day; climbing to heights above 8,000 feet and being exposed to a very wide range of weather conditions.
On parts of the route, pilgrims will find low cost accommodation shared with other pilgrims. In others, the only options are to camp or find bed and breakfast or hotel accommodation, but in crossing France, Switzerland and Italy, pilgrims have the opportunity to meet like-minded people from all over the world.
The essence of the modern-day pilgrimage experience is in the physical challenges, contact with unfamiliar cultures, beauty of the environment set against the backdrop of history that has created it and, above all, the people met along the way who will leave an indelible mark on every pilgrim's life.
The pilgrimage can become habit forming, but as a minimum one can expect to - 'lose one prejudice and gain one good idea'.