3. Pilgrimages

 

The international pilgrimage is the main activities of the Pilgrims of St Francis. This movement exists in seven European countries. The pilgrimage consists of a walk of nine days during which we try to live according to the values ​of St. Francis of Assisi and St Clare, and to use that time as a model for our lives.

The international pilgrimage takes place in a different country each year and this next summer, 2018, it will take place in Northern Spain (Picos region). The route will start at Comillas and end in Santa Torribio de Llebana. More details will be available in early January

Pilgrimages are planned by volunteers who may not know the region where it will take place. The distances are covered each day are between 10 to 15 km on average, walking on footpaths, as far as possible, avoiding the main roads. There are also groups, called Centre groups with the same accommodation all week. These are designed for elderly people or people with physical problems, or for families with small children.

There may also be the possibility of a group with more challenges - the adventure group.

Some countries also organise national pilgrimages - but often these are just one group and no Senior Centre with beds can be provided.

All the walking groups usually sleep on the floor (not the case of the Senior Centre group - who have beds), usually in places are not as comfortable as our own homes. For example in schools, churches, church and village halls.

The important strands of the week whilst walking, is building up community, our relationships , one with another , our contact with nature, and living a simple and basic life, in peace, tolerance, dialogue, helping each other and sharing together - especially in the annual topic chosen by the movement. This year the chosen theme is "Francis and perfect joy"

Along the way as they walk, sharing discussions and spiritualities and meeting locals are more important activities than achieving a long walk. Distances, as such, are not significant.

 it is more important to adapt to the more vulnerable, integrating and practising non-discrimination, looking for the joy in solidarity.

Some of the pilgrims have specific roles: Guardian, Housekeeper, Troubadour, Spiritual and Discussion Leaders but all members of the group are expected to take part in the groups’ activities.

The participants come from different sectors of European society as well as being members of different Christian churches. There may be those who are just searching for a new way of life. Members are of all ages and generations. So each of the groups walking each year will, as far as is possible, reflect that diversity.