Ready Pilgrims in Rome

Pilgrim Crossing Borders organized an international meeting to plan the grand pilgrim relay in 2015.
Click to enlarge photo
Representatives from pilgrim associations across Europe were gathered in Rome 17 October 2014 to introduce Pilgrims Crossing Borders to the general public, and to muster up supporters and participants. An entusiastic audience  were gathered  at the premises of the Società Geografica Italiana in the centre of Rome.

Among the prominent speakers were Mrs Silvia Costa who attended the meeting to show her support for Pilgrims Crossing Borders. Mrs Costa is a member of the European Parliament where she chairs the Committee on Culture and Education. The different sections of the pilgrim way from Norway to Italy were described with passion and enthusiasm by speakers from Denmark, Germany, Italy and Norway. The audience was attentive and posed relevant questions concerning the infrastructure and logistics of our relay.

There was consensus regarding the ideological aim of the relay, adopted by the European Council as a mission statement for the European cultural routes:

May the faith which has inspired pilgrims throughout history, uniting them in a common aspiration and transcending national differences and interests, inspire us today, and young people in particular, to travel along these routes in order to build a society founded on tolerance,respect for others, freedom and solidarity. We appeal to all Europeans and in particular to the youth of Europe by recalling the fundamental values and the importance of respect for cultural diversity, and intercultural and inter-religious dialogue.

Newsletter 2-2014

Dear fellow pilgrim,
Thank you for signing up for Pilgrims Crossing Borders (PCB), the relay from Norway to Italy and the Holy Land.  The number of participants has increased from 45 in June – to 82 in December this year – and we are still counting... Pilgrims from the following countries have signed up to walk shorter and/or longer sections of the walk: Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden,  the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

On an average we have 10 - 20 pilgrims who will walk stages in each country along the way. We expect more participants to join, and we know there will be a significant number of “day trippers”, participants who will walk shorter sections of the way to show solidarity with the cause. We welcome participation on all levels, long haul walkers as well as day trippers.

Next year will be full of events for PCB, and we are looking forward to all this with hopeful expectations.
Our itineraries are ready with some 175 stages distributed over six months. We will begin our walk as planned from Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim on Wednesday 22 April 2015. To celebrate the start of the relay, there will be a pilgrims’ service in the cathedral, with liturgy written especially for the occasion. The church bells will toll to salute the departing pilgrims who will be be sent on their way with blessings from the Bishop and Dean of Nidaros/Trondheim.
Routes and Resources
We will follow ancient pilgrim routes where possible. From Trondheim to Oslo we’ll follow
Gudbrandsdalsleden, the most commonly used route of the St Olav’s ways. The Pilgrim Confraternity of St Olav will organize this first part of the walk (Trondheim-Oslo) in co-operation with the National Pilgrim Centre and the  regional pilgrim centres in Norway.

From Oslo we’ll follow the pilgrim way to Larvik on the south coast of Norway.
The Confraternity of St James, Norway will organize this walk.  From Larvik we’ll embark on a ferry bound for Denmark 29 May. Through the north of Jutland (the Danish mainland) we’ll follow the pilgrim route from Hirtshals to Viborg with members of Nordjysk Pilegrimsforening.
From Viborg we’ll walk along
Hærvejen (i.e. the army road, also known as the Ox Road), the ancient way  from Viborg via Flensburg to Hamburg. Pilgrim Pastor Elisabeth Lidell will lead the way from Viborg  to Padborg near the German border. Here we’ll meet up with Pilgrim Pastor Bernd Lohse and his fellow pilgrims who will lead the way from Padborg to Jacobi Kirche in Hamburg where there will be cultural events to celebrate the pilgrims’ arrival.
In Hamburg we’ll meet members of the Via Romea Stadensis, a German pilgrim association whose members promote the Via Romea, the ancient route from Stade (ca 40 km east of Hamburg) to Rome. Volunteers from this association will lead the way through Germany from Hamburg all the way to the Austrian border. Through Austria and up to the Brenner Pass we’ll be escorted by members of the Jakobsgemeinschaft Tirol and fellow pilgrims in Austria. Once in Italy we’ll meet pilgrims from the Club Alpino Italiano and the Via Romea Germanica (the Italian sister organization of the Via Romea Stadensis)  who will guide us from the Brenner Pass through north and central Italy to Rome where we’ll have three days of rest and celebration 14 -16 October 2015. 

In Rome there will be a concert with music by the Trondheim Soloists in
Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista dei Genovesi on 15 October 2015. Details regarding this event will be published on our blog All participants and supporters are invited to attend this concert. 
What to expect and not
We are well organized thanks to voluntary efforts from participants, supporters and pilgrim associations.  The latter have prepared our itineraries and offered to help us on our way. Idealistic local guides will as a rule walk with us on most stages. If the local guide for some reason can’t lead the way (this will be exceptional), you will be given directions and advice on how to reach the next destination and where to find suitable accommodation. As pilgrims we can to adjust to different circumstances, that’s a  part of  going on pilgrimage. Here’s a rough outline of what to expect.
The daily walking stages will be approximately 20 km. As a rule we will walk, but should the situation (extreme weather, local conditions etc) call for it, modern means of transportation are allowed.
The accommodation will as a rule have pilgrim standard, i.e. basic facilities. The price level will vary from country to country, but we’ll choose reasonably priced accommodation. Chances are that you might be offered private accommodation thanks to local hospitality here and there. In such cases, we pay the actual price given by our hosts.

From Trondheim to Oslo you will need to book accommodation in advance, and suitable accommodation will be recommended in the itinerary. On some sections (e.g. from Schmalkalden to Mittenwald in Germany), you will be asked to pay a small deposit to cover possible cancellation fees. This deposit  will be deducted from your expenses toward accommodation, so it’s no additional cost. Through Denmark and North Germany accommodation will be booked in advance for you. Your local coordinators can tell you more about this (see page 5).
Luggage transport
You can choose to travel light – like so many pilgrims do – in order to be independent of luggage transport. Luggage transport will, however be available on some sections thanks to the local coordinators (Denmark, North Germany, South Italy etc). On other sections  luggage transport can be improvised in co-operation between the pilgrims, the local guides and the hostel-keepers.  We pay for this by splitting the costs between us. The price will be without profit, i.e. at cost.

Package tours
Most of our walk is organized by voluntary associations. There are however some sections where we have so-called package tours (which means that you pay a fixed price for * guide,  luggage transport and accommodation).
       In Denmark 7– 21 June: From Viborg to Padborg with Pilgrim Pastor Elisabeth Lidell.
       In North Germany 21 June – 1 July: From Padborg to Hamburg with Pilgrim Pastor Bernd Lohse.
       In the Holy Land 17–28 October: From Nazareth to Jerusalem with Pilgrim Pastor Einar Vegge.
On the above mentioned sections you pay a fixed price in advance to have everything * taken care of. Itineraries and costs from Viborg to Padborg and Hamburg are listed on our blog under itineraries

Our Pilgrimage in the Holy Land
On 17 October we depart by plane from Rome to Tel Aviv in order to begin our walk in the Holy Land 18 October. This pilgrimage will offer its participants the opportunity to both meet and talk with local people and visit holy sites. Our walk will go through Israel as well as through Palestinian territoriy, and much of the program will be organized in conjunction with
the Alternative Tourism Group (ATG), a Palestinian NGO specializing in tours and pilgrimage.
Participants who wish to join this walk will need to book their own return flight to Tel Aviv, where we will meet in the airport on Saturday, 17th October at 6:00 p.m. From Tel Aviv we will travel together to Nazareth, where we will spend the night (17th October) in a monastery.
Our walk begins on Sunday morning 18 October from Nazareth. We will walk to Nain, Afulah, Zebabdeh, Faraa, Nablus, Salfit, Aboud, Jifna and Ramallah before we reach the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem; there we will be welcomed in the Augusta Victoria Church on Tuesday 27th October. The following day we will go down to Jerusalem’s old city, where we will spend the day together with religious leaders at its holy sites.
Together with Bishop Munib Yunan we will organize an extension to the pilgrimage from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, Jericho and the Jordan Valley, from the 29th to the 31st of October.  We also plan to have a cultural programme with contributions from musicians and artists.  The intention is to give our pilgrimage a character of its own and foster mutual contacts together with local communities. We hope to have pilgrim concerts in Nablus, Ramallah and Jerusalem and, for those who continue the pilgrim walk further, in Bethlehem, Jericho and the baptismal site in the Jordan Valley.
This walk will be organized as a package tour from Tel Aviv and back (we pay a fixed price for our guide,  luggage transport and accommodation). A maximum of 20 participants can join this walk. In the event that more than 25 people wish to take part in it, we will consider having two groups walking the same route, the second  group starting one day later than the first (20 people have already signed up for the walk in the Holy Land). An itinerary with walking distances and accommodation for this walk will be published on our blog early in 2015.

Our walk in the Holy Land will take place in conjunction with Israeli as well as Palestinian authorities, and their advice will be decisive for our walk.  We are praying for peace and reconciliation in the Holy Land.
How to join
This is what you must do to register: Once you have decided which part you want to walk, please notify the local coordinators for the section/s you have chosen  (please see
itineraries). We recommend that you notify the respective coordinators via email (see e-mail addresses on page 5).

If, for example, you would like to walk in Denmark from Hirtshals to Padborg, you must send your registration by email to Andreas Blinkenberg and Elisabeth Lidell. Your registration could e.g. look something like this:
To coordinator’s name
I would like to join the walk from Hirtshals to Padborg (30 May – 21 June). Please let me know when and where to meet on the first day [date] and please send an itinerary for the walk with dates and distances.
Your name:
Your E-mail:
Your cell phone (please include country code):

All our coordinators are listed below. If you are uncertain about which coordinator to notify, let us know and we’ll assist you. Please let us know where and when you would like to join us. 

Vigdis Vormdal
(Relay Coordinator
Trondheim - Oslo)
+47 975 97 780
Tone Stræte
(Signing up Trondheim –Oslo)
+47 474 78 266
Eivind Luthen 
(Oslo - Larvik)
+47 400 21 199 or
+ 47  2233 0311
Andreas Blinkenberg
(Hirtshals - Viborg)
+45 3170 1614
Elisabeth Lidell
(Viborg – Padborg)
+45 86177204
Bernd Lohse
 (Padborg – Hamburg)
+49 (0)151 - 165 30 875
Thomas Dahms
+49 163 2598456
Werner Binnen
+49 9331 4913
Meinhard Egger
(Mittenwald – Salurn)
+43 699 88454869

Rodolfo Valenti 
(North and Central Italy)
+39 366 1305777
Flavio Foietta
(North and Central Italy)
+39 366 1305777
Alberto Alberti
(Rome and South Italy)
+39 349 1648614
Einar Vegge
The Holy Land
+47 922 00 171

Stein Thue
(Coordinator PCB)
+47 911 12 479

We wish you welcome indeed. Please replace "(at)" with @ in the email addresses above, thank you.
Necessities and Blessings
To join the relay, you need to have some walking experience and be able to walk approximately 20 km a day for the stages you sign up for.  If you plan to walk longer distances, make sure to have days of rest at sensible intervals. As true pilgrims we will stand shoulder to shoulder and help each other when needed. But, in order to be covered against unforeseen circumstances, we urge you to take out an adequate travel insurance just in case.

We believe this walk will be a wonderful experience – filled with adventures, new friendships and cultural as well as spiritual input. We are well organized, our prospects are good and we are ready to contribute along the way, volunteers as well as pilgrims. If you have questions, please feel free to ask, we are here for you. Our contact details are listed on page 5.
Do feel free to share this newsletter that also will appear on our blog.

Last, but not least we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. 
All the best,

Alberto Alberti
Vice President Rete dei Cammini

Stein Thue
Relay coordinator

Einar Vegge
Pilgrim Pastor in Nidaros

Our pilgrim staff and diary