A Personal Discovery of the Via Francigena
One Pilgrim’s Story is Fr. Aidan Sharratt’s account of his own journey as a pilgrim, travelling Via Francigena (the road of Frankish Origin) on foot. The journey had occupied the author’s mind for years. Determined to walk at least the Italian section – from the Swiss border to the heel of Italy – he was offered a sabbatical year from his post in Westminster Diocese and undertook the journey.
In the spring of 959, the frozen corpse of Bishop Aelfsige was found on the slopes of the Gran San Bernado. He was Bishop of Winchester and had been promoted to the See of Canterbury and so he set off for Rome to collect his Pallium (a woollen stole the pope bestowed on metropolitan archbishops), and in the depth of winter, he had attempted to cross the pass.
Many pilgrims from northern Europe did succeed in walking to Rome or even to Bari in the heel of Italy, and from there set sail for the Holy Land.
Fr Aidan Sharratt is a priest of the Diocese of Westminster. He was born in Northumberland and studied with the Holy Ghost Fathers who gave him the opportunity to study in Rome- during the Vatican Council. He and they hoped he would work in Nigeria but while waiting for the opportunity to do so he was asked to do a classics degree at Queen Mary College in the East End of London. Here he found his home (by mutual agreement) in the Diocese of Westminster. Each year he returned to Italy and has travelled, mainly on foot, in every region.