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M Lightly Burdened Pilgrims: Trip Report and Photo Essay

by Andrew Wilson

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Article Summary:

I started out with the best of intentions. It was a walk, after all, of a thousand miles. I'm prepared for that. Heck, I've even done it before. Sure, the circumstances are different. I'd be in Europe, not the wilderness of the western U.S. We'd be walking through villages and farms, not along remote ridges. If I could go lightweight in the woods, how much lighter could I go from town to town?! With tap water, grocery stores every day, a real bed whenever I was willing to pay, there'd be no need for extreme caution or planning. It'd be like thru-hiking, but easier...

Such were my thoughts when my wife Sarah and I decided to retrace the steps of Martin Luther on the 500th anniversary of his famous pilgrimage to Rome. In the late fall of 1510, the then-Augustinian friar set out from his priory in Erfurt, in what is now central Germany, headed for the Eternal City. Over a period of two months he walked through German forests, over the Alps, to sunny Italy and its fertile Tuscan hills. For Luther it was primarily a business trip - to settle an internal dispute among the Augustinians. It was also a spiritual pilgrimage to Rome's holy sites: "holy because of the most holy martyrs, dripping with their blood," as Luther said upon finally seeing his destination from Monte Mario on the outskirts of town.

ARTICLE OUTLINE

# WORDS: 3000
# PHOTOS: 26

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