VIA FRANCESCO-Day 1 Connecting with San Benoit.

Canterbury to Rome to Assisi Day 87

For me one certainty of walking a pilgrimage such as Via Francigena is that it will penetrate into one’s heart and soul, becoming a dear friend sooner or later. One just needs to be patient. After feeling nothing special at St. Peter’s and The Vatican, I began the pilgrimage today to Assisi.  I took a slight detour near The Colosseum to The Church of Santa Maria dei Monti. At this small nondescript church I had a profound experience feeling a strong connection to San Benoît.

The tomb of San Benoit. I placed a Japanese 88 Temple Nameslip into the case as I think San Benoit and Kukai, the Buddhist monk who founded the 88 Temple Pilgrimage were kindred spirits.

For here lies the tomb of San Benoît of Amettes, France. Saint Benedict(English) is the patron saint of rejects, mentally ill people, beggars, hobos, the homeless and pilgrims.

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San Benoit’s home in Amettes
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Statue at his home in Amettes, France
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San Benoit’s backyard in Amettes

He was rejected by many orders and eventually felt a calling to give up everything and walk pilgrimages across Europe. He would beg along the Way but always willing to give whatever he had to others. He was eventually accepted as a Franciscan Monk.  By the time he collapsed of malnourishment on the steps of the Church of Santa Maria dei Monti in Rome less than a month after his 35th birthday, Benoît had walked 30,000 miles all over Europe including the Camino de Santiago.

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Crucifix leaving Amettes

When asked why he walked, he replied, “I do it because that is what my heart tells me I should do.”

As I walk on I think back to almost 3 months ago and stopping at Gite Ferme des 2 tilliels in Amettes where kind Colette told me about San Benoît and showed us his home. I was touched upon hearing he had walked 30,000 kms. I felt a kindred spirit to this pilgrim thinking he is a brother to Santiago and Kukai(the spirit of the Japan 88 Temple Pilgrimage.
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I have no picture of Colette but little Gabrielle was also at her farm and gave me a tour.

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