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Three People you Meet on a Pilgrimage

May 4, 2014


So, a week ago I got back from a pilgrimage in Italy.  Now maybe you’re asking—people still go on pilgrimages? And the answer is yes, they do!  The most popular pilgrimage route in modern days is the camino de Santiago in Spain.  However, instead of doing that route, I went for the via francegina.  The via francegina is the name for a pilgrimage route that goes all the way from Canterbury, England, through France, to Rome.  People were walking it even back in the Anglo-Saxon days!  Now, I wasn’t hard core enough to walk all the way from England and only did the last part of the trip—from San Miniato (in Tuscany) to Rome.  

So last week Cinders wrote about five of the types of people she has met teaching in a high school. I decided to use this same framework to talk about three of the most memorable people (or groups of people) I met on the pilgrimage.


1)   The Paratrooper.  Soparatrooper,this guy was so cool.  He used to be paratrooper for the special forces in the Italian military.  Basically as hard core as you can get.  We met him the first place we saw and never saw him again… because basically he left us in the dust.  But yeah, so everyone has their own reasons for doing a pilgrimage but this guy’s was particularly amazing.  Apparently, his friend, who lives south of Rome, has been sick and depressed following his wife leaving him and other terrible events in his life.  So in public act of friendship and dedication, the paratrooper goes to visit his friend… on foot!  He tells his friend to hang on, and wait for him, and he travels across Italy to come and see him—the whole time with a sign on his back asking for prayers for his friend.

2)   The Polish People: so when we were in Rome we met a group of Polish people.  They had timed their pilgrimage to arrive in Rome for the sanctification of John Paul II and John the 23rd.  John Paul II is close to the hearts of many of the Polish as the first and only Polish pope.  But yeah… you know where they pilgrimaged from?  Poland!  The way from Poland to Rome is over 3,000km.  To get to Rome in time, they had to leave their house in January.  Now imagine pilgrimaging in Poland, in January.  Talk about hard core.sound_of_music_maria_nun_julie_andrews

3)   The Nuns.  Along our way, we stayed about half of our nights in monasteries and convents, mostly in places run by nuns.  All of the places we stayed were great.  I was so impressed by the generosity and hospitality of these sisters to open up their peaceful, private dwelling places to us outsiders—and everything we received in those places came free, with no asking price.  It was humbling to experience so much undeserved kindness, to see people so much living out God’s love.  In particular, the convent we stayed at in Siena was special.  The nun there not only gave us a place to stay but feed us dinner and breakfast and even let us do our laundry!  It was like having a loving mother in a far away place.  I won’t ever forget how much generosity and love was shown us on this trip.  It’s definitely challenged me to try to raise myself to a higher standard of giving, loving, and offering kindness in my own life.


3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 4, 2014 1:51 pm

    beautiful. i love to hear of people’s kindness. i, too, have done pilgrimages of varying sorts and have been amazed by the kindnesses of people.. ❤ wren

  2. May 5, 2014 12:55 am

    epic. tell me more tell me more!

  3. May 6, 2014 8:33 pm

    What an experience. Sometimes I feel like out of the four of us, Merskank’s life is the most unique. I love the guy with the sign for his friend.

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