Menevia LMS member's pilgrimage on foot to Rome, update Summer 2010

Bishop Tom Burns of Menevia sends Jeff his best wishes

Bishop Tom Burns of Menevia writes:

Please convey my best wishes to Jeff Pillar for the tremendous effort he is making on his walk from Canterbury to Rome, in honour of the year of the Priest. + Tom

LMS member’s sponsored walk to Rome

Arrives at the Vatican on 26 June

Jeff Pillar a policeman and Menevia Member of the Latin Mass Society

set out on a sponsored walk to Rome from Canterbury on the 8th of April 2010.

On Saturday 26 June Jeff had reached Rome and the Vatican

Jeff has dedicated his walk to the Year of the Priest

and will donate his sponsorship to the LMS Priest's Training Fund.

Please see the updates on his walk below

To sponsor Jeff please make cheques out to the Latin Mass Society and send to:

Stefano Mazzeo (LMS Rep for Menevia) 'Waun Llydan', St David's Well, Llananno, Powys LD1 6YP


Pilgrimage to Rome for Year of the Priest
from Thursday 8th April 2010 to Saturday 26th June 2010

The StartDay 1. - 8th April  Collected Pilgrim Passport from Canterbury Cathedral and had it stamped. The passport assists in obtaining cheap and basic accommodation if available. Otherwise you camp or sleep under a hedge!

Photograph outside Canterbury Cathedral with stone marking the start of the Via Francigena


Jeff and companionsDay 5   12th April.  Were accommodated by the Monks at St Paul’s Abbey, Wisques.  Normally for retreatants but our Pilgrim status and passport were recognised so we were allowed to stay, and also allowed to attend the daily Monastic prayer cycle.

Photograph myself and companions outside St Paul’s Abbey Wisques


St Labres homeDay 8 & 9  15th April.  Arrived in a village called Ammettes the birth place of  St Benoit (Benedict) Joseph Labre 1748 – 1783 who became a mendicant pilgrim and travelled to all the major pilgrimage shrines of Europe. He died in Rome of malnutrition having a reputation for sanctity spending long hours before the Blessed Sacrament. He is recognised by European Confraternities of Pilgrims as their Patron Saint. We arrived in the village on the eve of his feast day and I stayed for the Feast day itself at the request of the shrine custodians.

 Photographs Saint Labre’s Home

CampDay 11      18th April.  Unable to find accommodation in the town of Bapulme a further walk was required to the next village called Villiers-au Flo where the Mayor’s wife allowed us to sleep in the village Graveyard. Splendid! We had a very quiet nights sleep and were not disturbed by our neighbours at all!

Photograph Camp site


Day 15       22nd April  Arrived in the city of Laon after a long days walk and climb up to the city itself which is situated on a hill that dominates the surrounding countryside. The Cathedral has a tourist office attached to it above the crypt which was formerly a Pilgrims Hospital. The staff at the tourist office were delighted to assist us in finding pilgrim accommodation and we were offered the use of the crypt for the night. We gladly accepted. It transpired that we were probably the first pilgrims to sleep in the crypt since the hospital was closed.
 Reims Cathedral







Photograph Reims Cathedral

Chateau ChilionDay 37       14th May  Arrived in Switzerland on 12th May at a town called St Croix and moved on to Lusanne on our  way to the St Bernard’s Pass and Italy. The route was to follow the lake shore up a valley and on into the mountains. The scenery was beautiful around the lake and every spare piece of land was planted with grape vines even between roads and the space alongside railway tracks.

Photograph Chateau Chilion

Road to PassDay 42         19th May.  We started the accent of the Col Grand St Bernard  or St Bernard’s Pass as you prefer. The snow was still thick and it had been snowing earlier on in the day on our approach. As we ascended the snow became deeper until we arrived at the point the snow blowers had reached while clearing the road. The snow and ice loomed over us on either side as we passed between the snow cleared lane. This was still quite a distance from the Hospital and our refuge for the night. We continued on over the snow sometimes sinking up to our waist in it. Our arrival was a delight we were welcomed into the warmth and our boots and wet clothing were put into a drying room. We were then taken to the dining room and given hot tea and then shown to the male dormitory lined with welcoming bunks. After a night’s rest we were up early ready to continue into Italy. As we stepped out of the Hospital it was clear that ice had formed and the going underfoot was firm and slippery.

Statue of St Bernard


Statue of St Bernard marking the border between Italy and Switzerland.


Day 43.          20th May.  Arriving in Italy what was immediately noticeable was the change in climate. Although the air was crisp it was markedly warmer and became warmer still as we descended into the Aosta valley. The buildings started to change from Swiss style architecture to older buildings with character. In Aosta there was a Roman Triumphal arch and other buildings and as we walked on there were more bridges and constructions from the same era.

Village in Italy leading to St Bernard's Pass


Village in Italy leading to St Bernard’s Pass



Roman arch

Roman arch




Roman BridgeRoman bridge




LuccaSan GimignanoBolsena






Lucca, San Gimignano, and Bolsena site of a Eucharistic Miracle

Between the 6th June to about the 20th June we passed through areas of Tuscany which photographically may be well known to you such as Pontremolli, Lucca (not to be confused with  Loughor a local Welsh village near Swansea ) Siena, San Gimignano, with the towers, and Bolsena site of a Eucharistic Miracle which occurred in 1263 when Holy Mass was being celebrated above the tomb of St Christina.

Arrived in RomeDay 79             26th June.  Arrived in Rome via the Monte Mario Park often used as a back drop for T.V. presenters in Rome. The park overlooks Rome and there are panoramic views of the famous buildings and of course the Vatican itself and our destination. From the park we made our way down into the city proper and eventually into the Vatican. We then needed to obtain a stamp for the pilgrim passport which was easier said than done in the Vatican. After bag checks, body scans, left baggage receipts, queuing, and  “Not here mate” or the Italian equivalent, we ended up where we started and a porter stamped our pilgrim passports. The reason for the effort and our gratitude to the porter was that we could have had difficulty in getting into our accommodation without the correct sequence of stamps if the Refuge decided to stick rigidly to the rules of Pilgrim Passports. Fortunately the Refuge was being run by the Confraternity of St James, who were very welcoming and looked after us very well. After a night’s sleep I set about visiting areas of Rome that held interest for me.

I was able to attend Sunday Mass at the Church of the aptly named Santissima Trinitá dei Pellegrini,  a parish created by Pope Benedict XV1 to offer the Mass in the Extraordinary Form and served by The Society of St Peter’s. The Mass is only offered in this form. The church can be found near the Ponte Sisto Bridge off the Via Pettinari.   
I also had the good fortune to receive an introduction to Liam Bradley a Menevia Seminarian at the English College and went to visit him. He kindly gave me a conducted tour round the College which was fascinating due to the amount of British history contained there. More blessings followed when he gave me a ticket to the Papal Mass of St Peter & St Paul at which the newly appointed bishops receive their Pallium. Archbishop Peter Smith from Cardiff was in the Papal procession. Unfortunately, I had no more time to look around and had to leave directly after the Mass to start my journey home. - Jeff Pillar







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