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Walking La Francigena

By Sue Girvan 

On Monday, 14th May, having flown in from Heathrow the previous day, 29 members of St Luke’s Parish, Pinner, including their Parish Priest Canon Robert Plourde and Father Hugh Preston SDB, left Montefiascone to walk 80+ miles aiming to reach St Peter’s Square in Rome six days later where another eight parishioners who had flown out for the weekend would be waiting to greet them.


Walking distances ranged from 11 to 15 miles each day with the sun shining (all but one day when thunder storms were threatened) and various terrain was covered: rural landscapes with many steep hills, fields laden with scarlet poppies, vineyards, olive groves, hazelnut plantations were all part of the beauty experienced.
The streams full of clear running water high up in the woods leading into Sutri on the third day could only be crossed by holding on to home-made railings which was a real team effort, whilst circumnavigating some of the large, deep puddles en route to La Storta presented a dilemma between wet feet or a slightly longer walk.


We reached the centre of St Peter’s Square as planned on 19th May, the day of the Royal Wedding. A much needed restful three days followed at the beautiful Villa Palazzola with wonderful views over Lake Albano from where the pilgrims were taken by coach to places of interest, including a guided tour around St Peter’s, a picnic in the Borghese Gardens followed by a visit to the Basilica of St Mary Major and Mass in Cardinal Vincent’s Titular Church of San Alfonso with the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
Every evening the pilgrimage Mass was celebrated by Canon Robert and Father Hugh in different churches and chapels in the villages and towns where the pilgrims were staying.


In 2008 many parishioners walked the Camino de Santiago de Compostella. So, once recovered from La Francigena, the question at
St Luke’s is: where in 2022?

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