Via Francigena: Canterbury to Rome

Frank Burns

Many years awheel exploring the world, I am now addressing the most ancient of routes in Europe: the Via Francigena. First walked by St Augustine in 598 when he went to Rome to receive the pallium (his seal of office as the first Archbishop of Canterbury), it has recently been re-established using the travel notes of Archbishop Sigeric in 990 (one of the early bloggers!). Although I will have the benefit of a pair of wheels for my journey, carrying my pilgrim’s credential (passport) I will qualify for the official ‘testimonium’ given to pilgrims when they arrive at St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Following ancient routes, especially routes of religious and historical significance, has always been a passionate interest of mine. My forthcoming journey along the Via Francigena comes in the wake of several other long journeys, including the ancient Camino de Santiago de Compostela. So why am I doing it? Is it just for the sheer pleasure of completing it? Well, partly, but also read below:

Haiti: supporting earthquake victims

January 12th saw Haiti (the poorest country in the west) suffer its most devastating earthquake. 230,000 died, along with 300,000 injured. The 6 month anniversary of the quake has reminded us of the continued desperation of the situation.

For many years, we have supported the humanitarian efforts of the Claretian Missionaries in Belize. But on this one occasion, our attention deservedly shifts to the people of Haiti in their time of need. The Claretians in Haiti have spent several years building the infrastructure of their future work, which included an elementary school, which was completely destroyed. The money we raise through this venture will go directly to helping to rebuild this school.

Cycle pilgrimage: Kimbolton-Canterbury-Rome (1300 miles)

I will be setting off on August 29th, and hope to arrive in Rome about 18 days later. Much more than a cycle ride, this will be a genuine attempt to follow the route established 1400 years ago. I will be passing through places of historical connection, seeking to have my ‘credential’ (pilgrim’s passport) stamped and signed along the way, in order to qualify for the testimonium at journey’s end.

(I can now report that, at the end of all the fund-raising, we have been able to send £6,500 to help rebuild the Claretian Elementary School in Port-au-Prince. If you contributed to that amount, a sincere ‘thank you’ for your support)

About Frank Burns

My journeys around the world are less about riding a bicycle, and more about what happens when I get off the bicycle. Click on the Personal Link below to visit my webpages.

Posted on July 26, 2010, in Canterbury-Rome 2000kms: a cyclist's tale and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Goodluck on your pilgrimage Frank. I’m very jealous :p


  2. peter and ana cecilia

    Que bien que ya estas en camino. Parece que ya estas teniendo buenas experiencias en el inicio de tu peregrinaje. Lo vamos a salir con gran interes.

    And they were singing To Be A Pilgrim… if that’s not a good omen, I don’t know what is !


  3. I don’t know your circumstances but, if you are really moved, do some of it as a taster. You’ll not be disappointed!


  4. Frank, You have done it! I could not believe you cycled this long to reach Rome. When the Pope travelled that far to greet you there, you reached here to seek his blessings! Both of you crossed roads!
    I admire your daring. I believe haiti merits the pains you have taken. Recently I came to hear an eye witness account of the present state of Haiti. It was disturbing to know the facts. The world forgets this shattered country as easily as the short memory of television screens. the present state of Haiti is a shame for humanity. I wish their cry is heard enough to make a difference.



  5. Thank you Matthew, for your words of kindness, and I am so pleased to have the warm welcome from the Claretians here in Rome. After such a long journey, it’s good to know that friends await you at the end.
    I absolutely agree with your thoughts about Haiti, but I do know that the general public suffers from “media fatigue” when it comes to major disasters, so keeping interest alive for more than a few weeks is very hard. But that shouldn’t stop us from acting on the behalf of the children in Haiti.
    Thanks for you support


  6. Frank,

    Well done a fantastic effort and a great read. Your mate Felipe even has a photo of you disappearing in the mist on his blog.

    John Morris


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