Next to me, a young woman was buttoning up some small kids to leave. She noticed my pilgrim symbols – I was going to
I contemplated her explanations to the kids while I sipped my tea and rested my fatigue. I never would have said those words myself, but her point was suddenly clear to me. She was right in a way. For the past six weeks and for the next seven, my steadfast companions were and would be Saints, if not in spirit, at least iconographically – carved in stone or wood, painted on canvas or frescos, imaged in stain glass… I could recognize the same Saints nearly every day. Saints who were all once real live people; many of whom walked in the same places as I. I could rely on them almost daily to present themselves unbidden. Encouraging fellows, those Saints; cheerleaders on the trail.
To know their stories adds to the experience. Saint Rocco became a frequent favorite in
Other Saints peek out at predictable and unpredictable places – carved on churches, sure, but also in precariously placed niches high on mountainsides or, often in
All of the pilgrims through history, all of the scholars, tradesmen, migrants, clergy, soldiers, royal figures, all of them passed some of these same monuments to the Saints. Many of them have been around for a millennium. It’s awe-inspiring to think of it that way. It’s true, then, those of us modern pilgrims who have awareness of our surroundings, can truthfully be considered to walk with the Saints through time.