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NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the 10th Annual
General Meeting of the Confraternity of Pilgrims to
Rome will be held at the Conference Room, St James
Church, 197 Piccadilly, at 10.30am on the 11th March
2017 to transact the following business.
To be advised.
2. Minutes of the previous meeting
To be agreed, and matters arising.
3. Presentation of Annual Report
To receive the annual report for the year ended 31 st December 2016 – Chairman Brian Mooney.
4. Presentation of Accounts
To receive and consider the accounts for the year ended 31 st December 2016 – Treasurer Robert White.
5. Election of Steering Group Members
Brian Mooney, Alison Raju, Jim Brodie, Jonas Ewe, Julia Peters, Patrick Tuck, Robert White.
6. The Accommodation List
New initiatives – Julia Peters.
7. Any other business
1030 – Gather for tea/coffee (supplied)
1100 – AGM formal business
1200 – Mary Kirk
“Walking to Rome – What happens when things don’t quite go to plan.”
1230 - General discussion and Q&A
What do you want to know? Clothing and footwear, terrain, accommodation, tents climate, time of the year, expense, dogs, language, departure time of year, start point, end point, companions.
St James’s Church is located between Piccadilly and Jermyn Street about 200 yards from Piccadilly Circus. The nearest Underground stations: Piccadilly Circus and Green Park. It is on or near these bus routes: 3/6/9/12/13/14/15/19/22/23/ 88/94/138/139/159.
The Conference Room is located at basement level off a paved footpath, Church Place, on the south side between Piccadilly and Jermyn Street just after Costa and before the church.
Local authorities have supplied Danilo Parisi with a new ferry to carry Via Francigena pilgrims across the River Po. The river crossing and time spent with Danilo is invariably one of the high points of today’s pilgrim journey to Rome.
The photo captures the inaugural journey of the San Colombano carrying a group of Tuscan pilgrims on the first passage across the River Po in the New Year.
Danilo runs his ferry back and forth from the quay at Corte Sant’ Andrea to his home at Soprarivo down the same four kilometre sweep of the river that pilgrims in previous generations crossing from Lombardy to Emilia-Romagna would have taken in a boat propelled by sails and oars.
Pilgrims on foot and bicycle can book his ferry by mobile phone (+390523771607). He charges only a modest fee, and chiefly plies the river for the love of it.
The Via Francigena is his passion. Danilo is not just a ferryman; he is one of the gatekeepers of the modern pilgrim journey to Rome.
Danilo keeps a statistical account of pilgrims passing through his domain and we will be updating these shortly with the 2016 figures.
Honouring its commitment to help Rome-bound pilgrims find their way out of Canterbury more easily, the City Council has now installed a new Information Board by the gates of St Augustine’s Abbey. It gives information about the Via Francigena and details about the waymarked route out of Canterbury. The Abbey is the first major site after the Cathedral.
What happens when things don’t go quite to plan
Mary Kirk, 69, will be the guest speaker at this year’s AGM in London on Saturday 11th March.
Mary completed the Via Francigena from Canterbury to Rome on foot in 2016. However, her journey was not without its difficulties and set-backs, and Mary will speak on and illustrate some of the practical challenges she encountered and will give helpful information on how she tackled them.
Mary describes pilgrimage as “a metaphor for life, with its ups and downs, joys and sorrows, pains and pleasures; with its turning upside-down of plans, its encounters with the unexpected; with the people who cross one’s path, and the people with whom one walks a stretch and more.”
The Annual General Meeting takes place at St James’s Church, 197 Piccadilly, at 10.30 am on Saturday 11th March 2017, and it is open to both members and non-members, to anyone who wants to learn more about the Via Francigena and especially to those who are thinking of joining us.
CPR member Mary Kirk is currently walking ‘phase two’ of her pilgrimage Canterbury to Rome. Mary, at 69 years old, is an inspiration in determination as she returns to the Francigena after having had to stop in Vercelli due to a knee injury in the spring of this year. In the latest post of her blog (http://quovadis-walkingtorome.uk/) we find Mary just having crossed the Cisa Pass in the Apennines. Tuscany and the towns of Lucca and Siena lie ahead of her.
Mary will be speaking at the CPR’s AGM in March, 2017 and we can look forward to an account of her tremendous journey. Mary describes pilgrimage as“a metaphor for life, with its ups and downs, joys and sorrows, pains and pleasures; with its turning upside-down of plans, its encounters with the unexpected; with the people who cross one’s path, and the people with whom one walks a stretch and more. As in life, it is how one deals with all of this that brings to light one’s true self, and the necessity of transformation.”
If you would like to support Mary in her efforts to raise funds for refugees and the homeless please visit the following websites:
www.justgiving.com/Mary-Kirk2 (Refugee Action)
Buen camino Mary!
The confraternity of Pilgrims to Rome will be holding its Annual General Meeting in London at St James’s Church, 197 Piccadilly, at 10.30 am on Saturday 11th March 2017. A formal notice of the meeting and an agenda will be published early in the New Year.
The Via Francigena features in UK’s Being Human Festival
As part of the UK-wide festival entitled ‘Being Human’, the University of Kent has organised a 12 mile walk on the pilgrimage route The Via Francigena. Participants will begin their experience of the historic route at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Canterbury Cathedral. Exiting the walled city, the Francigena goes past the Abbey of St. Augustine and St. Martin’s church, the first Christian church in the English-speaking world. The route takes in the Kent villages of Patrixbourne, Womenswold, and lastly Shepherdswell, where the walk will conclude.
The Being Human Festival is led by the School of Advanced Study at the University of London, and is being run in partnership with the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the British Academy. Its aim is to engage the public with humanities research that is taking place throughout the UK. The overall theme for this year is the human experience of hope and fear, which ties in particularly well to the experience of pilgrims through the ages who have journeyed along the Via Francigena from Canterbury to Rome. The walk, led by PhD student Julia Peters, from the department of Classics and Archaeology at the University of Kent, offers participants an opportunity to reflect on the experience of pilgrims setting off for unknown lands where their fate rested on the generosity of both man and nature as they covered 1200 miles typically on foot.
This free event will take place on Sunday, 20 November and will begin at the gates of the Canterbury Cathedral at 9 am and finish at 3pm.
Follow the festival on Twitter @BeingHumanFest | #BeingHuman16
The European Association of the Vie Francigene has marked its 15th anniversary with a meeting in Fidenza and Piacenza attended by delegates from Italy, Switzerland, France. Belgium and England. CPR Chairman Brian Mooney and Canterbury Representative Julia Peters were also there. They are pictured here with AEVF Président Massimo Tedeschi. The AEVF groups together the municipalities and city and Regional councils along the way and fosters the Via Francigena as a major Cultural Route. The meeting heard pleas for more infrastructure, especially in France, and for improved waymarking but the overall message was that a great deal had been achieved in 15 years and that development of the Via Francigena would continue apace.
The ferryman of the River Po, Danilo Parisi, is taking delivery this June of a new ferry that will carry more passengers with capacity for bicycles. Local authorities are paying for the craft - a tribute to the great work Danilo does for Via Francigena pilgrims. CPR Chairman Brian Mooney dropped in for lunch with Danilo on his way to Fidenza. Brian also visited the local school in Calendasco where Danilo's son studies. The English teacher there Elena Pironi would welcome visits by pilgrims who pass by the school gates. Just press the bell and ask for her. It's a wonderful way to engage and give back!
The first annual charity walk on the UK section of the VF, Canterbury to Dover, held on 16 April, was a great success. The event was organised by Julia Peters, Canterbury Representative of the CPR, and Martina Gannon, who had walked with Julia for the last 100 KM of the VF to Rome in 2015. 44 individuals walked the full 20 miles, raising £2,100 for the charity Save the Children. Participants included Brian Mooney, CPR Chairman, several CPR members, Velia Coffey, Vice-President of the European Association of the Vie Francigene, staff and students of the University of Kent and members of the public. The event received support from: the University of Kent, who provided personalized t-shirts and sponsored ten Kent students; the Canterbury Cathedral, who supplied pilgrim credentials and a blessing to the pilgrims by Canon Irvine, and the churches of Patrixbourne and Womenswold who provided tea, coffee, cake and a short talk on the history and architecture of the churches.
Despite a cold and windy start at 7.45 at the Cathedral, there was a high level of enthusiasm as the group walked out of Canterbury and into the countryside. The first stop was at the church of Patrixbourne after 3 miles, where the group was graciously welcomed by volunteers from the parish, who handed out cups of tea and coffee to the eager pilgrims. Participants lined up to get their credentials stamped before heading back into the damp morning, across muddy fields to Womenswold. Muddy boots were left at the door as the walkers piled into the church for another tea break and some delicious homemade cake. The group reached the Bell pub in Shepherdswell, ahead of schedule, for a one-hour lunch break. A delightful walk across the fields of Waldershare House and a stop at the Church of All Saints ensured spirits remained high in the afternoon, even if energy levels were starting to fall. A diversion from the official route to avoid flooding brought the group through the village of Guston, turning back onto the VF after crossing the A2. The finish line was at the Red Lion pub, where a buffet had been laid out for the tired but happy pilgrims.
Due to the success of this event, Julia Peters plans to organize another charity walk next year, which has tentatively been set for 7 May, 2017. Positive impacts on the development of the VF in the UK as a result of the walk include: increased local awareness of the VF, an expression of interest in the churches to provide better facilities for the pilgrims, including obtaining an official stamp and the future possibility of organizing champing (camping in a church) to accommodate pilgrims, and most importantly, bringing the problems of inadequate signage and impassable sections of the route to the attention of local authorities. Making this walk annual will put pressure of the authorities to resolve these problems for the benefit of future pilgrims walking the VF, Canterbury to Rome.
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all today to the Confraternity’s 9th Annual General Meeting. We are a mere micro-second in terms of the Eternal City, but this is a special occasion as this year we are celebrating our 10th anniversary.
It is a full year since I became Chairman, and I would like to take this opportunity of saluting my predecessors – William Marques and Joe Patterson, both founding fathers who on 18th November 2006 attended the inaugural meeting which established the Confraternity of Pilgrims to Rome. There were just 15 founding members, and they did great pioneering work in putting the CPR on the map.
I am the third Chairman. The number of people who have joined the CPR since we started now exceeds 800 (811 as at 1/2/2016) from 20-plus countries, and we currently have 328 active members. Some 133 new members joined last year.
There is still much to do.
I am going to talk briefly about the changes that we are introducing and about our priorities for the future.
The major change is that we have increased our annual subscription for membership – the individual membership, for instance, is now £20 for one year and £40 for three years – and this is the first AGM at which we are levying a small attendance fee.
The increases bring us more into line with similar Rome pilgrimage organisations in countries such as the Netherlands and France, but we are still charging less than our sister Confraternity of St James (where individual membership is £25 for one year and £67.50 for three years).
We have also introduced a new option of life membership for the bargain price of £100.
Another innovation is that as part of an initiative to create a wider community we have started to put together a list of members who have completed a pilgrim journey to Rome. The CSJ is also assembling a database of completed pilgrimages to Santiago. Our list is on the website, and it is very much work in progress. If anyone has a journey to add, please send us an email with the details.
The numbers walking to Rome – certainly those going all the way from Canterbury or from their homes in England – are still relatively small. The statistics kept by Danilo Parisi, the Po ferryman, recorded just over 900 long-distance pilgrims in 2015 of whom 34 were British. But the underlying trends are encouraging. Year by year Danilo carries more and more pilgrims. In 2014 they numbered 735, and the year before (2013) 520 – so they have almost doubled in two years.
Many more clearly reach Rome after walking smaller distances. We certainly issue many more Pilgrim Credentials – 170 in 2015 and 171 in 2014.
Back home, we are re-designing our website and also, for the next few editions at least, we are publishing a hard copy of the Newsletter.
The decision to print the Newsletter and distribute by post has come about because we realised that very few people were actually reading our Newsletter on the website! Feedback from the first hard copy distribution was positive.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ann Milner who developed, built and ran our original website. It served its purpose well but websites need regular makeovers (the CSJ has a new one, the AVIF has just launched its fourth) – and with Ann' other commitments we felt the time had come to have a professional re-build.
We are also on Facebook, and our presence there is monitored by one of our Steering Group members, Jonas Ewe.
We are nothing without our members and prospective members. Keeping in touch with you and making our work relevant to you is all important.
In addition to contacting and staying in touch with members, I have engaged in outreach with sister organisations – Rome pilgrim groups in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Switzerland. I gave a presentation on our work at the AGM of the Confraternity of St James, and I joined up with a group of French pilgrims walking to Dover and took part in an AVEF meeting in Canterbury. I also plan to attend this organisations 15th anniversary celebrations in Fidenza in April.
Apart from the new website, one of the immediate priorities for the CPR is to sort out our own backyard. There are just 30 kilometres of Via Francigena in England but it may come as a surprise to some of you here today that these 30,000 metres are not all that well waymarked. It took foreign eyes to show us the problems. The group of French pilgrims I accompanied from Canterbury to Dover last year, expressed first surprise and then amazement that there were no Via Francigena signs in Canterbury, no finger posts to Rome, and that the waymarking out of the city was woefully inadequate. As you know we share the North Downs Way to Dover, but there is little or at best dilatory co-branding. I have since made two further visits to Canterbury and spoken about the problem both privately to City authorities and at an AVEF meeting. There are promises that the problem will be fixed and we live in hope, and it is our intention to celebrate our 10th birthday with an organised walk from Canterbury along the new waymarks.
This brings me to our Steering Group.
We met three times since the last AGM – in May, September and January. These are productive sessions.
We have two new members. Julia Peters is a post-graduate student at Canterbury and has joined us as the CPR’s Canterbury representative and she has also volunteered to look after and curate our accommodation list.
Julia is one of our two speakers today. She will be talking about her walk to Rome last year and she will also be telling you about a charity walk she is organising from Canterbury to Dover in a few weeks’ time. Making a departure from our customary accounts of non-stop journeys to Rome, our other speaker today, Charles Arthur, will be talking to us about walking to Rome in progressive stages.
The second new member of the Steering Group is Patrick Tuck. In addition to brewing the best beer in London, Patrick has web experience and is taking over as our new webmaster.
We have a number of departures. Philippe Seurre has left us and Bronwyn Marques is stepping down from her role as secretary. Also moving on are Yvonne Loftus and Alison Payne.
Our two founding fathers, William and Joe, will both be staying on the Steering Group in an ex-officio capacity
That leaves several key roles vacant, so if any of you here in this room feel ready to take up these challenges and give a bit back to Via Francigena please don’t be shy! Please come up to us afterwards. An organisation like ours needs the active involvement of its members, or it withers and fades out.
I would like to thank all the outgoing for their hard work and contribution.
Of those remaining, Jonas Ewe, plays a key role in communicating. As well as administering our presence on Facebook, he also looks after our brand and image.
Jim Brodie has taken over as membership secretary and will be responsible for sending out pilgrim passports or credentials.
Alison Raju, though not here today, edits the Newsletter with Chris George. Among her much feted guidebooks, Alison has written the Cicerone guides to the Via Francigena – the first in English dedicated entirely to walking the route.
Finally Robert White is our Treasurer. He is an invaluable member of the team, and I now have much pleasure in handing over to him for his annual report.
A Via Francigena information board has been installed inside the precincts of Canterbury Cathedral as part of a commitment by the city authorities to improve waymarking and signage for pilgrims setting out for Rome on foot. The board is by the information kiosk outside the western portal where pilgrims traditionally have their passports stamped. A similar board with a description of the route and its history will also be put up outside the ruins of the Abbey of St Augustine by which pilgrims leave the city. In addition to providing pilgrims with information on the route, the boards will serve to educate locals on the Via Francigena. It is only through local support and interest that the short English section of the Via Francigena from Canterbury to Dover can develop. As a World Heritage Site, Canterbury attracts millions of visitors each year. These signs will therefore, reach a very wide audience. More signage in Canterbury, pointing the way to Rome, and better signage along the North Downs Way to Dover are also promised in the near future.
Julia Peters, Canterbury Representative of the CPR, is organising a fundraising challenge on the English section of the Via Francigena on 16 April. Julia, who walked to Rome last year, is calling for volunteers to walk the 20-mile section from Canterbury to Dover, with all proceeds going to the charity Save the Children. The fundraiser is linked to the initiative ‘Kent on the Via Francigena’ launched by Julia last year to promote the Via Francigena at Kilometre Zero. “Few local residents are aware that they live at the starting point of this historic route,” says Julia. “This initiative – through a blog and events such as these – seeks to inform locals about the Via Francigena and the rewards of undertaking a pilgrimage.”
Julia sees this as a way of giving back for the generosity she experienced during her pilgrimages on foot both to Santiago and Rome. CPR members are asked for their support; if you are able to walk with her or to donate to the cause, please visit kentontheviafrancigena.com/via-francigena-fundraiser.