THE SURPRISING GIFTS OF ASSISI

In Assisi I was to receive a soulful gift, a joyful gift and a life lesson. But not in the way you might expect. For these events did not occur in one of the many churches there, nor in the famous Papal Basilica di San Francesco – one of the most impressive, expensive and art-abundant … Continue reading

LORETO & MARY’S SACRED HOUSE

There is a legend – that after the crusaders were expelled from Palestine in 1291, angels carried Mary’s house in Nazareth away to safety.  This was the house in which she had been visited by Angel Gabriel who revealed that she was to carry the son of God.  This was the dwelling in which she later … Continue reading

THE PATH TO PAVIA

Pavia – ancient and historic city where one wanders the cobbled streets enjoying the prettiness of its retained past. It was curious. On Journey One through France, Spain and Portugal I was drawn again and again onto St James’ Way – Le Chemin de Saint Jacques de Compostelle.  Granted, there are many routes, but even … Continue reading

WHEN AN END CAN BE A BEGINNING

SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA A group of men in crimson robes adorned with golden scallop shells emerged from the cathedral sacristy and made their way to the altar. There they unhooked a rope attached to a pulley and hoisted up the huge silver “botafumeiro”, the largest incense burner in the world and a famous symbol of … Continue reading

I come full circle

As I approach I can see Notre-Dame de Chartres Cathedral from miles away, standing completely alone on the skyline. Vézelay pilgrims saw Sainte Marie-Madeleine on the top of a far green hill, St Jacques pilgrims taking this route to Santiago see this important stage of their pilgrimage rising before them across a vast plain.   These … Continue reading

When does a traveller become a pilgrim?

When I started to dream, several years ago, of wanting to Journey I wondered what the experience should be called in my mind. Would it be an adventure? An odyssey? A pilgrimage? A quest? An expedition? Or would I simply be on a tour? I knew the word ‘holiday’ did not once enter my thoughts. … Continue reading

At Vézelay : The Unintended Pilgrim

Vézelay rises high on a hill above the surrounding Burgundy countryside, the twin towers of Sainte-Madeleine visible from afar. It has been a beacon for pilgrims for hundreds of years, guiding them to this special place on the road to Santiago de Compostela. Arriving at the village portal one climbs a narrow road by foot … Continue reading