Our Arrival in Rome

Rome 15 October 2015: Alberto Alberti and Stein Thue say
Grazie mille a tutti! :D
By Flavio Foietta

ROME!!! - SAINT PETER!!! A historic day for our Pilgrim: it is the aim of months and years of study, and preparation of a journey that went on for 175 stages, six months, from April 22th in Norway to October 14th in Rome: more than 3,000 kilometers on foot to bring a message of peace among Christians, the religions, cultures and among all men of good will.
Departing from La Storta with the blessing of the Lutheran Pastor Laila Olesen, after the interviews of TG3-Italian TV, we walked to Rome crossing  via dall'Insugherata (passage just opened by the City of Rome), accompanied by a Manager of the Ministry of Culture and escorted by the Municipal Police, we get to Monte Mario and then down, towards Via Beato Angelico. The group of pilgrims compact itself and together, waving flags, without feeling  the weight of mileage, of the backpacks, of the boots, they arrive at the threshold of St. Peter's Square. We must tell them that the square is farther than 50 meters, because the emotion is so great that they stop before the finish .... Then the tears of many:  the Norwegian Stein, creator of the project, Gunter, Wilma, Frauke, Sabatino, Luke, Erik Sten, Christel and the other 35 who join the group of the South Francigena and of the UNPLI-Proloco that are arrived from Assisi ... 

Finally the thanksgiving Mass in St. Peter's and then free
until tomorrow, aware of the reached objective. The next day we welcome the Campidoglio, where we are welcome by the "Authority" in terms of roads, by the Ministry, by the CEI (Italian Bishops Conference) , by the Council of Europe, by the City of Rome, by the representatives of the biggest associations. 

The logo Via Romea Germanic was there, in plain sight, on all posters and bills: this is an unthinkable result just five years ago when Lillo, Rodolfo and Flavio in Plaza Obradoiro in Santiago began to fantasize about how to reactivate the ancient Via Romea. Before this assembly Rodolfo our President speaks, and also Flavio speaks as founder and coordinator.
  But the standing ovation was for Norwegian Stein Thue, the creator of PCB and for "our" pilgrims: Gunter with 2200 km from Hamburg, Wilma by Wurzburg with 1600 km and 82 years old, and then all the others ....  Many ask us: “next year what will you do?” We answer: "…let us enjoy this time, the many found friends; but then we will go ahead ... ". 

Thanks to the many municipal administrations, to the many associations (the CAI, the Pro Loco ...), to the people who welcome us and gave us the strength to go on. The real miracle is this involvement! 
Many thanks to all. And, repeating the wish that yesterday was exchanging in S.Peter:  God bless us and bless all those who believed in Pilgrim Crossing Borders 2015 !
Photos will follow.

Flavio Foietta - VRG

See the news clip from our arrival in Rome 14 October 2015. Courtesy of RAI

RAI 3 TGR LAZIO BGR a cura di Antonella PALLANTEI PELLEGRINI ARRIVANO a ROMA. La voce dei protagonisti.PILGRIMS CROSSING BORDERS 2015. VIA FRANCIGENA.Da Trondheim a Roma, Santa Maria di Leuca.
Posted by Gruppo dei dodici on 22. november 2015


Speech given by Stein Thue 15 October 2015 in Sala Campidoglio, Rome:

Cari pellegrini, liebe Pilger, kjære pilegrimer, dear pilgrims,

Buongiorno a tutti!

We are happy to be in Rome, to have reached the Eternal City – the destination for our pilgrimage. I feel humble and grateful to be a participant in this big event.

It all began in Norway nearly six months ago. We had decided to send a pilgrim staff and diary along ancient pilgrim ways from Norway to Rome and Jerusalem.  To make this possible we have organized a pilgrim relay with participants from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, Australia, Canada, USA and other countries. Approximately 400 pilgrims (day-trippers as well as long haul walkers) have participated. Seven pilgrim associations and many idealistic volunteers have co-operated to make this possible.

So, why have we walked 3,000 km across Europe for six months? Are we insane? It is a relevant question –sometimes we wonder ourselves–  are we connected with the real world? We have walked for 175 days from Trondheim to Rome – not on our own, but as an international team of idealistic pilgrims.

We believe that our pilgrimage will encourage international dialogue and brotherhood. The pilgrim ways are the arteries of our civilization, the fabric from which Europe originated. Our map of Europe has no borders. We have invited participants from different countries and faiths to meet, walk and talk together. We have tied bonds and built friendship, we have crossed boundaries literally and metaphorically.  Being a pilgrim means becoming a “peregrinus” –a stranger– to gain insight and understanding.

Can we cross the invisible borders between us?  Can we, people from different faiths, help each other become better persons, as Christians, Muslims, Jews and agnostics? The times we live in call for bold ideas and actions. We vote for dialogue to create understanding and friendship.
We have engraved the symbols of Judaism, Islam and Christianity on our pilgrim staff. These are signs of goodwill, hope and idealism.

The pilgrim ways remind us of Europe’s common heritage and culture.  We have chosen a passage from the declaration of the European Cultural Routes as our motto:
The declaration says that we should travel along these routes to find inspiration.
Inspiration to nurture tolerance, respect for others, freedom and solidarity.
Let us embrace cultural diversity and encourage interreligious dialogue.
Let us make way for peace and understanding.
Our cause is worth a pilgrimage – across a continent, through five countries, on ancient roads where pilgrims have walked for centuries before us.

We had planned to continue our pilgrimage to the Holy Land and finish our walk in Jerusalem. But since the security situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories has worsened, we must reconsider our travel plans. We will follow the advice from the authorities and postpone our walk from Nazareth to Jerusalem to another year.  You will be invited to join again when time is right.

Our pilgrimage to Rome has been a success, and we are glad to have reached the primary destination for our pilgrimage. Now (15 October 2015) is the time to rejoice and celebrate for two days.

I would like to mention some of the many enthusiastic volunteers who have organized this relay. Please stand up when I say your names: Vigdis Vormdal from Norway, Sten Erik (alias Enrico) Løvgreen from Denmark, Christel Willers and Werner Binnen from Germany, Meinhard Egger from Austria. And from Italy: Roberto Valentini, Flavio Foietta, Giovanni Caselli and Alberto Alberti, the grand old men of European pilgrim ways. Let us give them a big round of applause!

An extra round of applause to the pilgrims from Southern Italy (Rome - S. Maria de Leuca), from Assisi (Assisi - Rome) and to pilgrims from all corners of the world!

Mille grazie everyone, thank you for making these events possible.

May God bless you all.

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