Can you be a piligrimin in a car?

Towards the end of the packed three-day return trip to England to collect my things, I stopped in Chatellerault and parked up for a few minutes to go and spend some time with the lovely fifteenth century pilgrim statue (now sadly behind bars because his value on the art market is now realised).

I began the day at 3.40 am in Dieppe, driving off the ferry and trying to make as much distance as possible while the roads were traffic free, but even while doing the journey in this way I could not separate the driving from the fact that I had to honour the route as a pilgrim.

I followed the “Route des Anglais” as I had not seen it before: from the main road.  And each time I noticed a place where some track I am familiar with comes out of a forest and crosses the main road, my heart leapt.  Yes, driving is not really the same, and yet the sense of being on the pilgrimage road and paying respect to it is just as powerful.

While making as much distance as possible in the early hours, I still found time to linger for a minute or two by the key points on the route.  Our Lady of Chartres, the statue of the Annunciation; then Chartres railway station coffee machine for a quick capuccino (€1.20) before going back on the road.  We piligrimins can be too purist at times.  I can see that the pilgrim route can be just as effective at 60 miles an hour in the right circumstances…


About Gareth Thomas

After a mixed career as an aircraft technician, London fringe theatre playwright, Franciscan friar, and secondary school teacher, I find myself looking after the needs of four donkeys in a remote location in the mountains in the Costa Blanca. I like to listen to BBC Radio 4 and the wind in the pine trees. I am writing a comedy about a school in Benidorm. My favourite film of all time is "Jean de Florette". If I had my time again I would not have spent the early 1970s working for Special Branch.
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7 Responses to Can you be a piligrimin in a car?

  1. omvendt says:

    How did your update of the ‘Route des Anglais’ pan out?

    Have you kept your Airnimal?

    How would you compare cycling to walking?

    It must have been a fantastic experience to cycle too.

    A courageous and resourceful rabit!

  2. Brother Burrito says:

    Pleeeease keep this blog going.

    You cannot realise how much vicarious pleasure it gives me, and certainly others, to read it.


  3. kathleen says:

    Ah, Frere Rabit, your mention of Our Lady of Chartres sent me floating in dizzy reminiscence of many joyful arrivals to this beloved shrine in the cathedral, after our long foot-weary Pentecost pilgrimages there from Notre Dame de Paris!

    She is our Mother, and as such will take care of you dear Rabit; she will watch over you in your continual pilgrimage as you make your way down to Spain to start a new life.

    Pido a Dios, a la Santa Virgen y a todos los angeles del cielo, que te cuiden y te protegen siempre.


  4. Frere Rabit says:

    Gracias a ti, Kathleen pero mi angel guardiano esta al punto de pedir el archangelo Miguel para otro tipo de trabajo… El conejo peregrino es demasiado carga!

  5. Frere Rabit says:

    Too kind, Omvendt, too kind. The rabit has indeed kept the Airnimal. It is now sitting next to my other bike which I brought with my stuff from England yesterday: my faithful De Rosa racing bike. I am so grateful that it was not stolen in Canterbury by whoever broke in and robbed me in my absence. It is valuable to me but nobody else it seems. (Unlike the computer, which looked valuable so was stolen, while in fact it was not worth more than £30 but it had all my old lesson plans on it.) I’ll say something about the differences in walking piligriminage versus cycling piligriminage some time, when I write about it. Being in Spain for the foreseeable future puts me near to the Camino de Santiago again, so the rabit piligrimin will be writing much more about that. Probably in a book rather than a blog. I am still not sure about blogs now… 🙂

  6. omvendt says:

    Basically, what BB said.

  7. Brother Burrito says:

    Will you be dropping in on Toad, perchance?

    Will you be able to organise a ‘live video blog feed’ for that? Network TV stuff, that.

    DT’s blog misses your zizzes. We have to put up with ‘jokers’ like Slightlyutterlyboring and AlfredSardine.

    It just ain’t the same, anymore. ‘Sigh’

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