It's been a while.
A lot has changed in the world, and in my own life.
But that's another story for another day.
Right now I'm on a pilgrimage.
My plan is to walk—no cars, no trains, no buses, no planes—from Ireland to Rome.
It's something like 2,000 miles. Crazy, huh?
You see, I'm still working on a book on Saint Kevin of Glendalough. My publisher asked for a deadline a while back when I signed the contract for it. I told them the end of August.
And I have been working on it. But I'm also working a few jobs, and the truth is I'd like to be making more headway on the book.
Now Saint Kevin is said to have walked from Ireland to Rome and back five times. Five times! And that was before Visa and Mastercard and even umbrellas. He was one tough cookie.
It is said that Kevin brought back so much soil from Rome that to visit the place where he lived, Glendalough, was equivalent to a pilgrimage to Rome.
As far as I know, no one has ever tried to retrace his steps. There is a pilgrimage route from Canterbury, England, all the way to Rome called the Via Francigena. But that is reconstructed from the diary of a 9th century bishop. Kevin lived from 498 to 612.
My plan is to start in Glendalough, where Kevin founded a great monastery. From there I'll follow the Wicklow Way north to Dublin. I'll take a ferry from there across the Irish Sea to Anglesey Island in Wales, and then walk to the south of England, following the Wales Coast Path for a while, then Offa's Dyke Path, then several other waymarked ways.
At Poole Harbor I'll take another ferry, this time across the English Channel to Normandy in France. That will be the beginning of my long trek across mainland Europe. I'll spend a long time in France, hopefully visiting Lisieux and Domremy (homes of Saint Therese and Saint Joan of Arc), pass through Switzerland, join up with the Via Francigena as it goes over the Saint Bernard's Pass in the Alps, and into Italy.
In Italy I'll follow the Via Francigena until it passes close to the way of Saint Francis of Assisi.
Saint Francis and Saint Kevin are kindred spirits, in my opinion. Francis communed with nature and animals of all sorts. So did Kevin.
When a blackbird landed on Kevin's hand while he was praying, he kept it still until the bird had made a nest, laid its eggs, hatched the eggs, and the fledglings had flown away.
Francis tamed the wolf of Gubbio, and Kevin tamed a wolf in Glendalough. Francis struggled between devoting himself to a hidden life of prayer, and the call to preach the Gospel far and wide. Kevin did too. They each came up with different, but fitting solutions to their dilemma.
They also both went on a lot of pilgrimages.
I've visited many of the places associated with Saint Francis, and long wanted to walk the way of Saint Francis. I will follow it the rest of the way to Rome.
Perhaps I'll be able to post updates here along the way. Perhaps I won't. But I ask your prayers as I set out on this pilgrimage. I fly to Dublin Tuesday, July 12.
Saint Kevin, pray for us!