The Blue – Find out more here! Monday, Jan 18 2010 

Ok, if you’re reading this, I’m hoping you decided to read the few words about my pilgrimage in The Blue. If so, the way to find out more is to go to the first actual journal post, and read on from there (backwards to here). You’ll notice the story cuts off rather abruptly at Pavia around the second week of November – sorry about that.

From what I’ve got written down etc., the result will hopefully be a book, Let Him Come Hither, taking the blog and expanding it. When this is available, I’ll advertise it shamelessly via any medium I can. Except actual mediums, because I don’t think the dead are interested in reading.

For now, the next place to look is The Old Blue, due out in March, I think. This has a longer article written by me en-route, with more pictures and more info.

One last thing: there are two things I ought to point out about the article in The Blue:

– JDS is Mr. John Shippen, former Scout Leader and teacher at Christ’s Hospital, who was a great help to me in the pilgrimage.

Cara Hines, whose blog is listed in the piece, is not a pilgrim per se, but is planning to pilgrimate to Rome next year, filming a documentary. Go and look at her blog, it’s much fuller and probably higher quality than mine! And it has videos…

Peace and Love,

PS. If you did get a copy of the Blue and found my blog through it, please let me know at, or leave a comment here. I just like hearing about how people have found out about tthis little adventure 🙂


Pilgrimage to Rome: An Exercise in Ecumenism Sunday, Jan 10 2010 

Note: If you are reading this on Facebook (as my blog automagically imports itself), STOP RIGHT NOW. Go to my notes and find the earlier copy of this, so if you want to comment you can comment on there 🙂

When I decided to carry out a pilgrimage to Rome, among my reasons for doing so, including the well-known ‘seeing the world’ and ‘finding oneself’, was a desire to investigate whether interdenominational ecumenism – a topic close to my heart – was a real possibility or merely an ideal to be sought. Even before I discovered the Via Francigena, the medieval pilgrims’ route to Rome, I had decided to travel from Canterbury, so that I might visit the centres of the world’s two most heavily established churches, the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Church.

Ultimately I began in the north of England and walked to and fro south through Britain before reaching Canterbury. However, it was at Canterbury that I began to tread the Via Francigena, and so Canterbury was a great milestone in the pilgrimage. In the first leg of my pilgrimage through Britain, during which I effectively warmed up, I visited a large number of churches of varying denominations, at no point attaching myself to any particular denomination. On this journey I shared worship in such diverse ways as an all-night prayer vigil at a Methodist Chapel in Yorkshire; a choral evensong at Cartmel Priory in Cumbria; Sunday worship with the Middlesbrough corps of the Salvation Army, and sharing fellowship with a youth camp from the Church of Latter-Day Saints in Durham.

After leaving the United Kingdom, I had expected to see nothing but Catholicism for the rest of my journey. For the most part this was true, and the majority of services in which I took part and churches I visited en route were in deed Roman Catholic. Yet ever and anon I discovered evidence of Protestantism on the continent. In Besançon, where postal delays held me back for a week, I was taken in most heartily by the Eglise Evangelique there, who on three occasions in the week accepted me despite my poor French and made me as one of their own. Switzerland has its own widespread protestant church in a similar fashion to Anglicanism in the United Kingdom. However, as well as this, in Lausanne, I discovered an Anglican church who invited me to share lunch with them after a service in such familiar settings that I scarcely remembered that I was in Switzerland at all, and in Aigle I was accommodated within a tiny Salvation Army hostel.

Yet if anybody reading this believes that I received no hospitality from the Roman Catholic church, let them be corrected. Time and again the Church and its associated organisations gave me hospitality in the warmest fashion. In France I was attacked by a group of youths. I was not harmed seriously and I escaped without being robbed, but the police who came to the house to which I had fled took me to the Fraternity of St. Bernard in Clairvaulx, who hosted me for free for two nights, feeding me and giving me provisions when I left. As well as this, there are countless occasions where I was in a pilgrims’ hostel in one village or another, and the parish priest, who often played a part in the administration of the hostel, invited me to dinner.

On several occasions I was asked on my pilgrimage, “Are you a Christian?” and when I answered that I was, I was asked what kind I was. On the continent my basic French and very basic Italian allowed me to say merely, “I’m just a Christian”, or in my first days in Italy, “tutti” – meaning all or everything. I learnt on my pilgrimage that as a member of “one holy, catholic and apostolic church”, one really can be a part of every church: for had I had the linguistic ability, my answer to the denominational question would have been that “wherever people worship Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, I am one of them”. It is true that the varying denominations differ in their practices, and there are of course elements of each with which one may have issues. However, the key principle to which one should hold fast, and which those in ecclesiastical and ecumenical authority might do well to remember, is that first clause of the Nicene Creed: “We all believe in one God.”

Radio Silence Sunday, Jan 10 2010 

Hi all. For those of you who have been following this and seen it go silent, I am REALLY sorry. I got to Rome on December 1st and have returned safely etc etc etc. I’m now working on Let Him Come Hither: the book, which will be this blog, expanded with extra info, maps and other exciting stuff, as well as some theological things.

As I got so much pilgrimage info for free, I’m going to keep this blog online, and onto it I’ll add all the basic travel information (what I took, what I spent etc) so other pilgrims can find this out for free. If you want to buy a copy of Let Him Come Hither, please do.

Anyway. Read the more recent article that I’m about to put up: it’s a report I wrote for the Templars’ Pilgrim Trust.