On July 10th, the Bishop of London joined the Bishop of Southwark, Christopher Chessun, and Bishop of Dover, Rose Hudson-Wilkin, to celebrate the launch of the recently established walking and pilgrimage route – the Via Francigena Britannica.

The route, which joins London to Rome, is a 146km northern extension of the well-established, Council of Europe approved, Via Francigena, which already extends 2000kms from Canterbury to the Vatican City.  Within the UK, the Via Francigena will now cover 177km, crossing from Southwark Cathedral through the Darent Valley, along the North Downs Way and Stour Valley Path to Canterbury.  The route takes in the Greenwich UNESCO World Heritage Site, Eynsford Castle, Otford Palace, Aylesford Priory and tranquil chalk grasslands, woods and orchards.

The Francigena Britannica was developed on behalf of Pilgrims to Rome, by its current President, G Carlo Laurenzi OBE with help from fellow trustees and other volunteers.

Bishop Sarah said:

“It was great to join friends on just a small part of the new Francigena Britannica pilgrimage. I am overjoyed to see the Via Francigena extended, and can think of few better places to renew one’s connection with God and the natural world than from the lofty spires of Southwark Cathedral to the tranquil rolling hills of the North Downs Way. I offer my prayers for all who embark on this special journey.”

The Bishop of Southwark said:

“In today’s busy and demanding times, pilgrimage – the act of slowing down, concentrating on the journey, rather than rushing to the destination – is more important than ever. It’s a great joy to mark the extension of the Francigena Britannica to London – and I hope that many will take up the opportunity to slow down and invite God into their journey.”

Bishop Rose added:

“I was delighted to join my fellow Bishops of London and Southwark to symbolise the important connection between our respective dioceses as part of the proposed Francigena Brittanica.  This extension of the well-established Via Francigena will give future pilgrims the opportunity to begin their passage in London, following in the steps of those who have journeyed through the ages to visit the shrine of St Thomas Becket in Canterbury. I pray that those travelling these historic pathways will be truly blessed and uplifted by their experience.”

For more information, visit the Pilgrims to Rome website.

Bishops walking by the River Thames
Bishop Sarah with Bishop Rose and Bishop Christopher