October 16 concluded with an evening talk and film presentation was made for a local group with Luca Lombroso from Modena, a meteorologist offering an explanation on climate change. The next morning, with Sam now with us, we walked under grey skies, but thankfully no real rain, to Ravenna. Early the next morning we met with Legambiente volunteers who were working with a group of immigrants from North and West Africa, and one young man I met was from Bangladesh, who regularly assisted with street clean-ups (see photo) which also helped them to become part of the community while they studied. (The pilgrims also helped for about one hour before leaving.) Here I met with Monika, a woman from Katowice who now has lived in Italy for 21 years and volunteered with Legamiente; I hope to stay in touch as we walk towards her home. Monika commented that life in Italy was much better where there was less pollution and people here smiled more – and there were more sunny days than back home. The political atmosphere however in Italy is to limit refugees – it’s a current ongoing crisis with nothing certain. I learned that younger Italians were far more accepting of immigrants.
Saturday 13, we leave Assisi, our last rest day until we reach Trieste in three weeks, parting company with Maica, who returns to the Philippines, and Sebastien, who returns to France. While waiting for a bus to take us to the train station, Berenice and I talk with Mary, a lady visiting Italy from Seattle, who will now follow the walk on our various blogs. After arriving by train in Perugia, there is a steep hill climb to the bus station where we travel a short distance before more walking into Gubbio, our next stop. Much of the walking recently has been on the Via di Francesca, one of the important pilgrimage routes from Rome. Staying at the church of St. Francis which was built around 1255 inside a vast Franciscan complex built by the residents of Gubbio on the lands of the ancient Spadalonga family. It was this family that in 1206-1207 is said to have taken in and clothed Saint Francis after he abandoned the family home and renounced his wealth, and it was here that the saint wore a habit for the first time, which was to become the outfit of the Franciscans. (Currently Gubbio is entertaining a 3-day hill climb race for race cars -very noisy and polluting.) The evening was rounded off with a communal meal and short film followed by comments from walkers as to why the were taking part in the pilgrimage. Evening meal was followed by a discussion with local people about the walk with input from each of the pilgrims explain their reasons for taking part. (Pictured: with students in Citta di Castello.)
October 8: After a silent breakfast at Romita di Cesi, we made our farewells, and until mid-afternoon we took to mountain paths, not so severe as the climb up, but still, for me, hard on my knees, which required attention when we settled in Spoleto that evening. The last part of the walk was on roads to Baiano, where we took a bus to complete our journey into Spoleto where we stayed at the Catholic Centro di Pastorale Giovanile – our first night on the floor – i.e. no beds or bunks but sleeping mattresses. (The evening was occasion to celebrate AG’s birthday.) In Spoleto Benedict Avodi, (pictured below) who works for the office of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, (JPIC) of the Franciscan Capuchin friars in Rome joined the pilgrimage for a few days until Assisi, (he hope to return later if possible). Here he writes his reasons for taking part: “I joined this walk because of several reasons. First, being a Franciscan friar, I follow the values, charism and spirituality of St. Francis who loved and promoted the care of creation. His cosmic fraternity was based on treating creation with respect and dignity for each creature as our own brothers and sisters. As such he wrote the canticle of creatures that refers to each creature as brother or sister, eg. Brother sun, sister moon, etc. Second, I am on this pilgrimage because I believe that the effects of climate change affects us all and as such we need to advocate for climate justice. Being from Kenya, Africa, I have witnessed change of climate including lack of rain, droughts, high temperatures, etc – this has led to hunger, extreme poverty, and also internal displacement of peoples, migration and subsequently climate refugees within and outside the country. This is also indirectly causing conflict and wars in Africa. For example in Kenya, the pastoralist can no longer find pasture for their animals, so they have to move south where they could water their animals, this makes them to enter into conflict with the farmers who are mostly along the rivers. Third, being a Catholic, I follow the call of our pope Francis who recently released his encyclical on the “Laudato si, the Care of our common home”. In this letter to the faithful, the pope appeals to all Catholics and people of good will around the world to listen to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. Thus the effects of climate change affects all of us but more specifically the most vulnerable, the poor.
October 4. The first day of the walk, as in 2015 began in St. Peter’s Square in Rome with an event organized by FOCSIV with support from groups such as Greenpeace and Maravito, a Rome-based organization with protection of the oceans as their cause. A large group formed a circle which led to prayers for the walkers, then followed by Yeb talking about why we walk to Poland and the significance of COP-24, followed by the customary taking of photographs as we processed from the Vatican. We are carrying with us about one thousand ribbons with messages from all over the world to take to Katowice. Many of these were strung on our backpacks as we left the Vatican City. A 16 kilometer walk took us to the outskirts of Rome, including some off-track walking along Riserva Natural di Monte Mario until we took a train from S. Filippo Neti to our first stop, Anguillra Sabazia which sits on Lago di Bracciano, the home town of FOCSIV workers Nadia and Andre who were instrumental in organizing the Italian part of the pilgrimage in 2015 from Rome to Paris. Also it is the home town of Claudia , the volunteer who will be with us until we leave Italy early next month. So a welcome was organized down by the lake where a presentation took place to explain both the reasons why we walk, as well as local concern for reducing the level of the lake both from a drought and a corporate company taking water from the lake that was lowered by as much as two meters in one year.
September 20, 2018:
In 14 days, I will again join up with former Philippine Climate Commissioner Yeb Saño on my third climate pilgrimage, following walks in the Philippines (2014) and Rome to Paris a year later as the Paris COP-21 was about to commence. COP-24 in Katowice is planned to establish the rule book on implementing the Paris Agreement. This is an introduction to the blogs I will be reporting on during the 65 day journey commencing at the Vatican in Rome on October 4. Along the way I hope to report on events as they happen as we go from town to town, and country to country, sharing stories with people we meet en route as well as discussing with climate walkers their backgrounds and reasons for taking on this journey. Pictured: – Yeb at COP-21 in Paris. (Alan Burns – owner of TGG)
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