A Pilgrimage online to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search discount of a Faith outlet sale

A Pilgrimage online to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search discount of a Faith outlet sale

A Pilgrimage online to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search discount of a Faith outlet sale

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From "the world''s greatest tour guide," a deeply-researched, captivating journey through the rich history of Christianity and the winding paths of the French and Italian countryside that will feed mind, body, and soul (New York Times).

"What a wondrous work! This beautifully written and totally clear-eyed account of his pilgrimage will have you wondering whether we should all embark on such a journey, either of the body, the soul or, as in Egan''s case, both." --Cokie Roberts

"Egan draws us in, making us feel frozen in the snow-covered Alps, joyful in valleys of trees with low-hanging fruit, skeptical of the relics of embalmed saints and hopeful for the healing of his encrusted toes, so worn and weathered from their walk."--The Washington Post


Moved by his mother''s death and his Irish Catholic family''s complicated history with the church, Timothy Egan decided to follow in the footsteps of centuries of seekers to force a reckoning with his own beliefs. He embarked on a thousand-mile pilgrimage through the theological cradle of Christianity to explore the religion in the world that it created. Egan sets out along the Via Francigena, once the major medieval trail leading the devout to Rome, and travels overland via the alpine peaks and small mountain towns of France, Switzerland and Italy, accompanied by a quirky cast of fellow pilgrims and by some of the towering figures of the faith--Joan of Arc, Henry VIII, Martin Luther. The goal: walking to St. Peter''s Square, in hopes of meeting the galvanizing pope who is struggling to hold together the church through the worst crisis in half a millennium.

A thrilling journey, a family story, and a revealing history, A Pilgrimage to Eternity looks for our future in its search for God.

Review

One of Oprah''s Must-Read Books of Fall 2019

Praise for A Pilgrimage to Eternity:

“A glorious, laugh-out-loud, wipe-away-tears, blister-riddled, often rain-soaked, sometimes bone-chilled, desolate and desperate, quietly triumphant walk through church history—every last footfall in search of an elusive modern-day spiritual certitude…Egan aimed high, and he reached it.” The Chicago Tribune

“One of Egan’s best books, a moving combination of history and memoir, travelogue and soul-searching, buoyed by Egan’s strengths as a writer: color and humor, a sense of wonder and a gift for getting to the point." Seattle Times

"What a wondrous work! Somehow Egan has pulled together what seems like the entire history of Christianity, the scenes and succulents of much of Europe and his own personal story into an engrossing narrative. This beautifully written and  totally clear-eyed account of his pilgrimage from Canterbury to Rome will have you wondering whether we should all embark on such a journey, either of the body, the soul or, as in Egan’s case, both." — Cokie Roberts

“If this book doesn’t quite settle the question of belief for you, it will at least fortify your faith in scrupulous reporting and captivating storytelling…Egan is so well informed, he starts to seem like the world’s greatest tour guide...Reading it, you feel yourself in the presence of goodness — the kind you might simply have to decide to believe in.” The New York Times

"Egan is an erudite author with a flair for catching the magic in his 10-week journey. His writing is thoughtful, expressive and visceral...this book was a joy to read." The Washington Post

"It’s a trail mix of the personal, historical and even gastronomical…full of history-buff-pleasing asides." Star Tribune

“Whether read as a travelogue, history or personal spiritual quest, A PILGRIMAGE TO ETERNITY will enlighten and entertain its audience…both mesmerizing and uplifting.”  BookReporter

"As he wanders, Egan beautifully describes the landscape, his personal prayers and his family’s heartbreaking experiences with untrustworthy men of faith…Part travel memoir, part history, part spiritual reflection—A Pilgrimage to Eternity is wholly enjoyable.” BookPage

“Both an engaging travelog and a meditative exploration of how religion and history have woven the tapestry of Europe together. It has more questions than answers, but they are the right questions to get a reader walking along the road to… somewhere. Making the journey is more important than arriving. Egan has illustrated that with deftness and brilliance.” Houston Chronicle

“The question of what a pilgrimage means in the modern day loops throughout Timothy Egan’s  A Pilgrimage to Eternity...Egan’s historical chops are on show throughout his journey." America

“Remarkable, moving…Fans of Egan’s writing and newcomers will both enjoy his deep immersion into descriptive language that jolts the past awake with sensory immediacy.” Crosscut

“Rich in detail and anecdote…A beautiful book.” Commonweal

“A terrific read for all who are willing to consider that there is always more to see and learn.” Catholic Library World

"From the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner, a pilgrimage to find religion—or truth, or the way—that pleasingly blends memoir, travelogue, and history. ...Finding people and places warm and welcoming in each village and city, allowing himself to be amazed, lingering to rest blistered feet, and discovering soul-stirring spots--all this kept Egan pushing on, and readers will be thankful for his determination. A joy and a privilege to read." Kirkus, Best Book of 2019

Praise for Timothy Egan:


"Egan has a gift for sweeping narrative . . . and he has a journalist''s eye for the telltale detail . . . This is masterly work." — The New York Times Book Review

"Few writers have the Pulitzer Prize–winning Egan''s gift for transforming history lessons into the stuff of riveting page-turners." — Entertainment Weekly

"A master storyteller" — The Boston Globe

About the Author

Timothy Egan is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and the author of eight other books, most recently The Immortal Irishman, a New York Times bestseller. His book on the Dust Bowl, The Worst Hard Time, won a National Book Award for nonfiction. His account of photographer Edward Curtis, Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher, won the Carnegie Medal for nonfiction. He writes a biweekly opinion column for The New York Times.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

One
London Falling

The passage to eternity begins on the Piccadilly Line to Cockfosters. Contain the snickering, you tell yourself during the gentle forward rocking through London''s Tube. By now, you should be purged of the trivial and juvenile. You should be in pilgrim mode. You''ve prepared for a journey of more than a thousand miles by walking hills and stairs, by breaking in shoes and building calf muscles, by shedding weight and inconvenient thoughts. You''ve tried to knead doubt into a lump of manageable anxiety. Getting in spiritual shape was much harder. You tidied up your affairs, made a donation to charity. Atoned. You ended a thirty-year feud with a man you''ve known since college. Although, when you told him all was forgiven, he responded with a quizzical look and said, "Were we in a feud?" You hope the soul has not gone dark. You''ve given it a scrub, cleaned out the grime from long-held grievances, petty jealousies, and spells of intolerance. The goal is to be fresh, open to possibility.

At Heathrow earlier today, after a nine-hour flight from my home in Seattle, I felt inexplicably cheerful in the grim fluorescence of an international customs barrier, ready to roam.

"Are you alone?" the British officer asked. I wanted to say "Aren''t we all," but a sign warned that this was a gate of utter seriousness; it was a crime to joke.

"Why are you alone?"

I explained that I was starting a pilgrimage from Canterbury to Rome, the Via Francigena.

"The what?"

Well, surely you''ve heard of the Camino de Santiago in Spain, I told him. More than a quarter million people walk some part of that dusty path to the tomb of the Apostle Saint James every year. I will follow a less-known trail, once the major medieval route from Canterbury to Rome, the Via Francigena. The name means, roughly, the Way Through France, and is pronounced frahn-chee-jeh-na. More of a braid than a single road, it traces a course described by Sigeric the Serious, archbishop of Canterbury, when he walked through Europe to see the pope in the year 990. My plan is to travel the entire route of the Via, about twelve hundred miles on foot, on two wheels, four wheels, or train-so long as I stay on the ground. The Via Francigena crosses the English Channel to Calais, wends through dark towns still shadowed by King Clovis, Napoleon, and war, to hilltop cathedrals said to hold calcified scraps of saints and proof of miracles. It leaves the cold interiors of northern France for the revitalizing air of the mountains and the Reformation, deep into Switzerland. Up, up, up into the Alps after that. Down, down, down through the Sound of Music hamlets of the Val d''Aosta. Then south into the radiance of Tuscan villages first inhabited in the Etruscan era twenty-five hundred years ago. In the end, it''s a straight line to St. Peter''s Square over the fabled Roman road, in hopes of meeting a pope with one working lung who is struggling to hold together the world''s 1.3 billion Roman Catholics through the worst crisis in half a millennium.

Now here is my first stop, St. Pancras station in central London. It''s another curious name, sounding like an homage to an internal organ. The tourist information booth has nothing on the origin. "Some kind of saint." Pancras, it turns out, was a teenage martyr, killed by the Romans in ad 304 for refusing to worship one of their gods. The boy was beheaded. He has a special place in England because some of his relics-body parts and the like-were carried to these shores in the first systematic attempt to bring Christianity to the island, in the sixth century.

The morning is lovely, May sunlight pouring through the big glass walls of the station. I pick up a couple of papers and magazines, happy to be in a city where print journalism is alive and shouting. It''s tempting to overstate things in the daily grind of events, but the news of the day seems monumental on all fronts. Britain is cracking up-an existential fight. Having shaped so much history for so many centuries, a fractious former imperial power struggles to find its place in the world, and with how much of that world to open its doors to. No nation is an island-even one that is an island-entire of itself. A shared national narrative, difficult in the best of times, is far out of reach for "this precious stone set in the silver sea," in Shakespeare''s perfect tribute.

And something else is running through the national disquiet: the kingdom is fast losing its belief in God. For the first time, more than half of all British say they have no religion at all. Some are looking for answers in the five-thousand-year-old Neolithic mystery of Newgrange in Ireland, a circular mound of tomb passages older than the Great Pyramids at Giza-a fascination of the neo-pagans. Others are dogmatically atheistic, if that isn''t oxymoronic. In between are people who haven''t given up on the Big Questions, but are checking out of organized religion in droves. The collapse has hit the Church of England hard, with just 15 percent of UK residents now calling themselves Anglican, the faith founded by Henry VIII. To this day, the head of the church, ninety-three-year-old Queen Elizabeth II, is also head of state. For centuries, in order to hold office or even attend college, you had to take an oath of supremacy, swearing to the monarch''s absolute power at the top of this nation''s established church.

One story predicts the end of British Christianity within fifty years, when the religion brought here with the bones of Saint Pancras will become "statistically invisible." Across the pond, a much slower-moving but similar trend is taking hold in America. There, the fastest-growing segment of belief is no particular belief-the Nones, as they''re called. Nearly seven in ten Americans are still Christian. But if White Anglo-Saxon Protestants were indeed the rootstock of the United States, then the mother ground is nearly barren. What''s happening is a mass exodus, particularly among the young: 71 percent of people aged eighteen to twenty-four say they have no religion. Since 1980, the Church of England has shuttered a thousand places of worship-great stone heaps, finely masoned and arched to high purpose, now demolished, sold at auction and repurposed, or left to rot.

This news sharpens my purpose. At times, we have trouble seeing history as it slow pivots. But here now is a moment that''s been building for a century. Britain-and much of Europe, the theological cradle of Christianity-has never been so removed from belief in God. It''s likely that a higher percentage of people once worshipped Odin or Jupiter than those who now regularly pray to the carpenter''s son from Nazareth. Elsewhere, the world is becoming more religious, and Christianity is growing, robustly so in China and Africa. With 2.2 billion followers, the faith that began as a small Jewish sect is by far the planet''s most popular and diverse religion. But in Europe, where the rules of the spiritual here and hereafter were shaped over centuries of bloodshed, it''s all a shrug.

One reason I want to follow the Via Francigena is to experience layers of time on consecrated ground. There''s barely a village along the way that has not played host to some life-changing event, a cathedral stairway that has not been trod by martyrs, madmen, or monarchs. Would there come a day when all those shrines and reliquaries would be nothing but Michelin-starred curiosities-left behind, like the great rock faces of Easter Island or Stonehenge? What was that all about, we may ask, looking at haloed humans fronting an oversized edifice in marble. In that sense, this adventure is an attempt to find God in Europe before God is gone.

But I have another motive to get moving over this sanctified pathway. For the enfeebled Church of England, the figure of Jesus is almost an afterthought; he is "sometimes compelling," as the Anglican bishop of Buckingham recently put it. I''m looking for something stronger: a stiff shot of no-bullshit spirituality. I have no idea what that is. I''ve never been "saved" or visited by an apparition or even had a prayer answered, that I know of. I''m a skeptic by profession, an Irish Catholic by baptism, culture, and upbringing-lapsed but listening, like half of all Americans of my family''s faith. I''m no longer comfortable in the squishy middle; it''s too easy. I''ve come to believe that an agnostic, as the Catholic comedian Stephen Colbert put it, "is just an atheist without balls." It''s time to force the issue, to decide what I believe or admit what I don''t.

I''m clearly not a theologian. Others can fight over doctrine, as they have for centuries. Others can see grave peril in something as simple as allowing a divorced Catholic to receive communion. The dancing-angel-counting on that head of a pin will continue until end times, preferably far out of sight. But if there are a small number of hardened truths to be found on this trail, let the path reveal itself. I feel driven by something I read from Saint Augustine during my prep work: "Men go abroad to admire the heights of mountains, the mighty waves of the sea, the broad tide of rivers, the vast compass of the ocean, the circular motion of the stars, and yet they pass over the mystery of themselves without a thought." We are spiritual beings. But for many of us, malnutrition of the soul is a plague of modern life.

One member of my family was nearly destroyed by religion. The men of faith in our diocese committed a monstrous crime. Another sibling was made whole by religion, after losing a son to murder and finding that no one but God could salve her wounds. There are no clean lines in our clan, only a muddle-rage mixed with redemption. I''m still haunted by the last hours of my mom''s life. She was a well-read, progressive Catholic, a mother of seven. "I''m not feeling it, Timmy," she said, the color fading from her face, the strangling tendrils of her brain cancer closing it, that lethal glioblastoma. "I''m not sure anymore. I don''t know what to believe or what''s ahead. I don''t . . . know."

I arrived on a Boeing 747 that is nearly twice as long as the Wright brothers'' first flight. I begin my passage with all the world''s known knowledge in the palm of my hand. And yet, I feel that so much is still unknown-the unquantifiable, my mother''s doubts on her deathbed. At the depth of this year''s dreary winter, I went to a "Search for Meaning" festival at Seattle University. I assumed it would be just a handful of the usual search-for-meaning suspects lamenting the meaninglessness of it all. But the major events were sold out, demand much greater than supply. At the same time, I started looking at pictures of the enchanting Via Francigena, this magnificent curiosity through the heart of secular Europe. The tug-and yes, the light, particularly in Italy-was irresistible. Here was a chance to consider two thousand years of theological thinking, refined by some of the best minds and tortured souls, all the opinionated ghosts of the Via Francigena.

Rome, by plane, is less than three hours away. My camino will take months, depending on dogs encountered, feet blistered, bad water ingested, and the wondrous distractions in between. Sigeric''s route gained prominence at the height of the medieval era, when upward of two million people journeyed south along this way every year. They took to the road to escape miserable lives, to look for plunder, to find a miracle cure for the everyday diseases that killed adults in their prime. And many thousands slogged through forests and bogs, past dens of thieves, renegade knights, and redoubts of rabid dogs, in searing heat and mortal cold, as a way to cinch a place in heaven. During a papal jubilee-a holy year-the church offered this pact: make an epic journey to Rome and receive a plenary indulgence in return, the slate of sin wiped clean. And no doubt, thousands more went out of a genuine desire to connect to God. It''s the same feeling today that motivates the 200 million people worldwide who make some form of spiritual pilgrimage every year. But among the 40,000 who stride over part of the modern V.F., most are not on a religious journey. They are seeking space to think, to reflect, to "learn how to waste time," as the European keepers of the trail reported in their most recent analysis.

In Canterbury, I walk from the train station to the cathedral, with one task ahead of me before I do anything else. I find my way to an office inside the medieval compound of the church and present my blank credential, the official record of anyone who attempts the Via Francigena. This is a personal record more than anything else, though the Catholic Church requires that certain stages be completed in order to receive the Vatican seal of the Testimonium at the end. I get my first stamp, the emblem of a cross on a shield, imprinted on a square of the page, marking a beginning. I start as a father, a husband, an American deeply troubled by the empty drift of our country. And for the next thousand miles or so, I will try to be a pilgrim.

two
A Canterbury Tale

The altar where Archbishop Thomas Becket was hacked to death by a quartet of knights on a December evening in 1170 was always a reason to come to Canterbury. You would want to kneel on the cold floor where the most powerful man of God in the kingdom fell. You might be lucky enough to get a drop of his diluted blood, the most precious commodity of the most visited site in a cathedral so crowded with history it is called England in Stone. You would, at the least, start a proper pilgrimage to Rome by leaving something of value behind at the place where church and state clashed with the shattering of a skull. And so today you study the bronze sculpture of two swords in the cathedral, and wonder why an 850-year-old crime scene is still one of the most sacred sites in all Christendom. It''s the first question a pilgrim confronts on the Via Francigena.

"Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?" The exact phrase of King Henry II may be less Shakespearean. He might have said "turbulent" priest. Or some other variant. No matter: the intent was the same. And so on December 29, nearly six centuries after the first archbishop of Canterbury had built a palace of worship on this ground, Henry''s knights butchered Thomas Becket. That should have been the end of it. But to still the heart of a nation''s highest-ranking ambassador of Christ, at a time when the church held sway over nearly every aspect of life and death in Europe, was not just a shocking affront; it was a declaration of war against the world order, undertaken to change the balance of power.

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4.6 out of 54.6 out of 5
691 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Persephone
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Trying to cover too many subjects
Reviewed in the United States on October 30, 2019
This book certainly had its moments but it was trying to be too many things---an observant travelogue, a food diary, a history, a hiking journal, and a search for spiritual answers. After awhile the places visited tended to blur together, although the maps were a great... See more
This book certainly had its moments but it was trying to be too many things---an observant travelogue, a food diary, a history, a hiking journal, and a search for spiritual answers. After awhile the places visited tended to blur together, although the maps were a great help to orient the reader as to place.

The spiritual quest, which is supposedly the heart of the pilgrimage, was the weakest part of the book. It didn''t really lead anywhere. Although the author was raised Catholic, his knowledge and experience of it seemed rather superficial, and his present family was not religious at all. His daughter, who joined him on part of the camino, said "I know what I believe in. I value family, friends, love, community, lifelong learning, continuous self-improvement, reflection, creative experiences, empathy, care of the natural world and all the creatures who inhabit it." Shades of Woodstock, 1969. But she didn''t need to go on a pilgrimage to find that, as it is continually trumpeted in Real Simple and other such publications. The author himself seemed vaguely unhappy with his spiritual condition but couldn''t define what it was, although his latent Catholicism gave him a curiosity about the various shrines and legends in the areas he passed through. The episode where he viewed the body of a saint, miraculously preserved, whose eyes seemed to be moving, was quite arresting. I wished to know more about it.
76 people found this helpful
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Stephen J. Triesch
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Dumb and dumber.
Reviewed in the United States on December 8, 2019
The very first paragraph of this book was a red flag: "The passage to eternity begins on the Piccadilly Lane to Cockfosters. Contain the snickering, you tell yourself during the gentle forward rocking through London''s Tube. By now you should be purged of the trivial and... See more
The very first paragraph of this book was a red flag: "The passage to eternity begins on the Piccadilly Lane to Cockfosters. Contain the snickering, you tell yourself during the gentle forward rocking through London''s Tube. By now you should be purged of the trivial and the juvenile."

Then why did you begin your book with the trivial and juvenile? Why did you signal a fundamental lack of seriousness, a fundamental banality, right from the start? Within a few pages, the book became unreadable for any serious thinker about Catholicism, Christianity, and the modern world. Timothy Egan is a joke, mixing banality with failed efforts at profundity on almost every page.
48 people found this helpful
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She Treads Softly
5.0 out of 5 stars
very highly recommended spiritual, historical, and physical travelogue
Reviewed in the United States on October 15, 2019
A Pilgrimage to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search of a Faith by Timothy Egan is a very highly recommended spiritual, historical, and physical travelogue. Timothy Egan was raised Catholic but has experienced over time a lapse of faith and disillusionment... See more
A Pilgrimage to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search of a Faith by Timothy Egan is a very highly recommended spiritual, historical, and physical travelogue.

Timothy Egan was raised Catholic but has experienced over time a lapse of faith and disillusionment with the Church, especially after the sexual abuse scandal. Egan has decided that, "It’s time to force the issue, to decide what I believe or admit what I don’t." He embarks on a pilgrimage, visiting historical sites along the 1,000-mile journey from Canterbury to Rome following the Via Francigena. "One reason I want to follow the Via Francigena is to experience layers of time on consecrated ground."

As he travels, Egan shares the historical and religious significance of the sites he visits and the events that occurred there. He walks where significant Christian figures and saints once traveled, meeting other pilgrims along the way. He starts in Canterbury, visiting the chapel where Queen Bertha introduced Christianity to pagan Britain, and makes his way along the major medieval trail leading the devout to Rome. He travels through France, Switzerland and Italy, discussing the monasteries, cathedrals, shrines, sites of miracles, and various relics along the way, while sharing the history of many of the important figures in the church who once walked in the same areas. Egan''s pilgrimage ends in Rome at St. Peter''s Square in the Vatican City.

The writing is excellent in this fascinating, interesting, and personal account of Egan''s travels as he shares his circumspect thoughts on his journey and the history of the church. I was engrossed in following Egan''s pilgrimage from start to finish. This will likely be much more interesting to those who are or were raised Catholic, but the rest of us can also find much to appreciate in Egan''s historical details and following him along his journey. But this is much more than just a travelogue, it is also a memoir. Raised Catholic, and having a Jesuit education, Egan has many personal memories tied to the historical sites he visits. He openly and honestly shares his doubts, struggles, and sometimes failures when dealing with questions of faith. I really appreciated his candid honesty and regret for not raising his children in a faith.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Penguin Random House.
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Jesse
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Disguised Anti Catholic Rant
Reviewed in the United States on January 23, 2020
While claiming to be searching for a renewal of the Catholic Faith, every page is filled with every anti catholic idea known to mankind. Not one page is free is knocking the Catholic Church whether in her history, her culture, her members, her teaching, her Shrines, her... See more
While claiming to be searching for a renewal of the Catholic Faith, every page is filled with every anti catholic idea known to mankind. Not one page is free is knocking the Catholic Church whether in her history, her culture, her members, her teaching, her Shrines, her Faith.
I feel sorry for Tim who obviously has 3 major monkeys on his shoulder.
God rest his Mother''s soul. God help his Sister-in-law in her sickness. God pour balm into the heart mind and soul of his Brother. "Do not see to understand in order to believe, rather believe that you may then understand" St Augustine.
30 people found this helpful
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Avid reader
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Excellent book
Reviewed in the United States on October 31, 2019
I love Timothy Egan''s writing and this one did not disappoint. It''s an excellent, brief, synopsis of Christianity through the medieval times of pilgrimages. I learned a lot, as I usually do from his books. While you learn of his family''s position on faith, it definitely... See more
I love Timothy Egan''s writing and this one did not disappoint. It''s an excellent, brief, synopsis of Christianity through the medieval times of pilgrimages. I learned a lot, as I usually do from his books. While you learn of his family''s position on faith, it definitely doesn''t overwhelm the book. It''s more of an aside and "here''s why this is interesting". The description of the VF was excellent, as well as the sites hew visited. Although, as he clearly states, he did not walk the entire trail and this is in no way intended to be a guide book for the VF. That being said, it is certainly an excellent read to get you ready for it, if you are so inclined.
29 people found this helpful
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Pura Vida!
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Detailed history of Christianity that most of us didn''t know. Carefully researched.
Reviewed in the United States on October 29, 2019
I have read The Worst Hard Time, and ...The Shadow Catcher, by Timothy Egan. Loved his writing, so when I saw this newly released book, I immediately pre-ordered one! The subject is interesting to me. The author did not disappoint. He did his homework! I learned a lot,... See more
I have read The Worst Hard Time, and ...The Shadow Catcher, by Timothy Egan. Loved his writing, so when I saw this newly released book, I immediately pre-ordered one! The subject is interesting to me. The author did not disappoint. He did his homework! I learned a lot, and his personal glimpses were revealing and much appreciated. Just one criticism, which took a star off my review: I wish he had left out his personal political opinion of our current president. I counted 3 times. It had absolutely nothing to do with the content of the message in the book, was so awkwardly inserted, that I am surprised the editors let it through.
24 people found this helpful
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Dr.Tort
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Avoid this Narcissistic Journey
Reviewed in the United States on February 17, 2020
Egan’s “pilgrimage” from Canterbury to Rome is about a 1,000 miles or so. We never really know how much time was spent on foot. It seems a lot of the miles were covered on a train, a rental car or the occasional bus. Apparently his blisters were “killing” him.... See more
Egan’s “pilgrimage” from Canterbury to Rome is about a 1,000 miles or so. We never really know how much time was spent on foot. It seems a lot of the miles were covered on a train, a rental car or the occasional bus. Apparently his blisters were “killing” him.
However, we do know what he learned on his spiritual journey—nothing. He left Canterbury with a chip on his shoulder about the Catholic Church and surprise, surprise it was still there when he arrived in Rome. Thankfully, his blisters healed.
All along this seemingly interminable trek Egan constantly reminds the reader of the multitude of sins committed by the Church and the many crazy beliefs and tales of martyrdom foisted off on the Faithful by the Church.
So, it should come as know surprise to the reader that at the end of his journey Egan finally finds the only god he can truly believe in and worship—himself.
16 people found this helpful
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Insight1001
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Don''t Bother
Reviewed in the United States on November 10, 2019
Sorry, but this doesn''t describe a pilgrimage. It''s more like a travelogue with very little walking thrown in. I walked the Camino de Santiago from the French border and was looking for some background to doing the pilgrimage to Rome. I''ll have to find that somewhere else.
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Top reviews from other countries

ocaboy
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Not a pilgrimage - A Diatribe Against the Catholic Church
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 16, 2020
I was looking forward to reading this book based on its title "A Pilgrimage to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search of a Faith". While it was interesting as a travel book, it turned out not to be a pilgrimage but just another one-sided diatribe against the Catholic...See more
I was looking forward to reading this book based on its title "A Pilgrimage to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search of a Faith". While it was interesting as a travel book, it turned out not to be a pilgrimage but just another one-sided diatribe against the Catholic Church. Unsurprisingly, none of the laudatory reviews by a largely secular or atheistic news media took issue with this. Unrestrained polemics against Christianity and particularly the Catholic Church have been two a penny over the last few decades and have been enthusiastically welcomed by critics in news media. Contrary to assertions in some of the reviews herein, it was not at all well researched but full of assertions and distortions. The flow of biased publications against Christianity has been for too long left unchallenged, but recent years have seen publication of well researched and documented rebuttals. Unfortunately they get little attention in the popular press. Just a small sample of these may be useful to anyone with an interest in Christianity and its largely beneficial effect on the development of western civilisation over the past two thousand years: Dominion - The Making of the Western Mind by Tom Holland Outgrowing Dawkins by Robert Shortt Bearing False Witness - Debunking centuries of anti-catholic history by Rodney Stark The Story of Christianity by David Bentley Hart What if I am Wrong: The Atheist''s Nightmare How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization by Thomas E. Woods What''s so Great About Christianity by Dinesh D''Souza While no one can deny that dreadful things have been done in the name of Christianity, the above books provide a necessary balance in counteracting the excessive criticisms of the past few decades and by documenting the overall enduring and powerfully beneficial impact of Christianity.
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Grant Cassidy
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great book makes you think and makes you laugh
Reviewed in Canada on March 20, 2021
Fabulous adventure. Thought provoking. Combines a high across Europe with historical and spiritual questions and integrates with life experiences. Humouring direct and honest
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Gailet
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Pilgrimage to Eternity
Reviewed in Canada on February 19, 2021
It is a wonderful read - easy inspiring travelogue! We are using it as a study for the Lenten Season. Searching for Mystery!
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Description

Product Description

From "the world''s greatest tour guide," a deeply-researched, captivating journey through the rich history of Christianity and the winding paths of the French and Italian countryside that will feed mind, body, and soul (New York Times).

"What a wondrous work! This beautifully written and totally clear-eyed account of his pilgrimage will have you wondering whether we should all embark on such a journey, either of the body, the soul or, as in Egan''s case, both." --Cokie Roberts

"Egan draws us in, making us feel frozen in the snow-covered Alps, joyful in valleys of trees with low-hanging fruit, skeptical of the relics of embalmed saints and hopeful for the healing of his encrusted toes, so worn and weathered from their walk."--The Washington Post


Moved by his mother''s death and his Irish Catholic family''s complicated history with the church, Timothy Egan decided to follow in the footsteps of centuries of seekers to force a reckoning with his own beliefs. He embarked on a thousand-mile pilgrimage through the theological cradle of Christianity to explore the religion in the world that it created. Egan sets out along the Via Francigena, once the major medieval trail leading the devout to Rome, and travels overland via the alpine peaks and small mountain towns of France, Switzerland and Italy, accompanied by a quirky cast of fellow pilgrims and by some of the towering figures of the faith--Joan of Arc, Henry VIII, Martin Luther. The goal: walking to St. Peter''s Square, in hopes of meeting the galvanizing pope who is struggling to hold together the church through the worst crisis in half a millennium.

A thrilling journey, a family story, and a revealing history, A Pilgrimage to Eternity looks for our future in its search for God.

Review

One of Oprah''s Must-Read Books of Fall 2019

Praise for A Pilgrimage to Eternity:

“A glorious, laugh-out-loud, wipe-away-tears, blister-riddled, often rain-soaked, sometimes bone-chilled, desolate and desperate, quietly triumphant walk through church history—every last footfall in search of an elusive modern-day spiritual certitude…Egan aimed high, and he reached it.” The Chicago Tribune

“One of Egan’s best books, a moving combination of history and memoir, travelogue and soul-searching, buoyed by Egan’s strengths as a writer: color and humor, a sense of wonder and a gift for getting to the point." Seattle Times

"What a wondrous work! Somehow Egan has pulled together what seems like the entire history of Christianity, the scenes and succulents of much of Europe and his own personal story into an engrossing narrative. This beautifully written and  totally clear-eyed account of his pilgrimage from Canterbury to Rome will have you wondering whether we should all embark on such a journey, either of the body, the soul or, as in Egan’s case, both." — Cokie Roberts

“If this book doesn’t quite settle the question of belief for you, it will at least fortify your faith in scrupulous reporting and captivating storytelling…Egan is so well informed, he starts to seem like the world’s greatest tour guide...Reading it, you feel yourself in the presence of goodness — the kind you might simply have to decide to believe in.” The New York Times

"Egan is an erudite author with a flair for catching the magic in his 10-week journey. His writing is thoughtful, expressive and visceral...this book was a joy to read." The Washington Post

"It’s a trail mix of the personal, historical and even gastronomical…full of history-buff-pleasing asides." Star Tribune

“Whether read as a travelogue, history or personal spiritual quest, A PILGRIMAGE TO ETERNITY will enlighten and entertain its audience…both mesmerizing and uplifting.”  BookReporter

"As he wanders, Egan beautifully describes the landscape, his personal prayers and his family’s heartbreaking experiences with untrustworthy men of faith…Part travel memoir, part history, part spiritual reflection—A Pilgrimage to Eternity is wholly enjoyable.” BookPage

“Both an engaging travelog and a meditative exploration of how religion and history have woven the tapestry of Europe together. It has more questions than answers, but they are the right questions to get a reader walking along the road to… somewhere. Making the journey is more important than arriving. Egan has illustrated that with deftness and brilliance.” Houston Chronicle

“The question of what a pilgrimage means in the modern day loops throughout Timothy Egan’s  A Pilgrimage to Eternity...Egan’s historical chops are on show throughout his journey." America

“Remarkable, moving…Fans of Egan’s writing and newcomers will both enjoy his deep immersion into descriptive language that jolts the past awake with sensory immediacy.” Crosscut

“Rich in detail and anecdote…A beautiful book.” Commonweal

“A terrific read for all who are willing to consider that there is always more to see and learn.” Catholic Library World

"From the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner, a pilgrimage to find religion—or truth, or the way—that pleasingly blends memoir, travelogue, and history. ...Finding people and places warm and welcoming in each village and city, allowing himself to be amazed, lingering to rest blistered feet, and discovering soul-stirring spots--all this kept Egan pushing on, and readers will be thankful for his determination. A joy and a privilege to read." Kirkus, Best Book of 2019

Praise for Timothy Egan:


"Egan has a gift for sweeping narrative . . . and he has a journalist''s eye for the telltale detail . . . This is masterly work." — The New York Times Book Review

"Few writers have the Pulitzer Prize–winning Egan''s gift for transforming history lessons into the stuff of riveting page-turners." — Entertainment Weekly

"A master storyteller" — The Boston Globe

About the Author

Timothy Egan is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and the author of eight other books, most recently The Immortal Irishman, a New York Times bestseller. His book on the Dust Bowl, The Worst Hard Time, won a National Book Award for nonfiction. His account of photographer Edward Curtis, Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher, won the Carnegie Medal for nonfiction. He writes a biweekly opinion column for The New York Times.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

One
London Falling

The passage to eternity begins on the Piccadilly Line to Cockfosters. Contain the snickering, you tell yourself during the gentle forward rocking through London''s Tube. By now, you should be purged of the trivial and juvenile. You should be in pilgrim mode. You''ve prepared for a journey of more than a thousand miles by walking hills and stairs, by breaking in shoes and building calf muscles, by shedding weight and inconvenient thoughts. You''ve tried to knead doubt into a lump of manageable anxiety. Getting in spiritual shape was much harder. You tidied up your affairs, made a donation to charity. Atoned. You ended a thirty-year feud with a man you''ve known since college. Although, when you told him all was forgiven, he responded with a quizzical look and said, "Were we in a feud?" You hope the soul has not gone dark. You''ve given it a scrub, cleaned out the grime from long-held grievances, petty jealousies, and spells of intolerance. The goal is to be fresh, open to possibility.

At Heathrow earlier today, after a nine-hour flight from my home in Seattle, I felt inexplicably cheerful in the grim fluorescence of an international customs barrier, ready to roam.

"Are you alone?" the British officer asked. I wanted to say "Aren''t we all," but a sign warned that this was a gate of utter seriousness; it was a crime to joke.

"Why are you alone?"

I explained that I was starting a pilgrimage from Canterbury to Rome, the Via Francigena.

"The what?"

Well, surely you''ve heard of the Camino de Santiago in Spain, I told him. More than a quarter million people walk some part of that dusty path to the tomb of the Apostle Saint James every year. I will follow a less-known trail, once the major medieval route from Canterbury to Rome, the Via Francigena. The name means, roughly, the Way Through France, and is pronounced frahn-chee-jeh-na. More of a braid than a single road, it traces a course described by Sigeric the Serious, archbishop of Canterbury, when he walked through Europe to see the pope in the year 990. My plan is to travel the entire route of the Via, about twelve hundred miles on foot, on two wheels, four wheels, or train-so long as I stay on the ground. The Via Francigena crosses the English Channel to Calais, wends through dark towns still shadowed by King Clovis, Napoleon, and war, to hilltop cathedrals said to hold calcified scraps of saints and proof of miracles. It leaves the cold interiors of northern France for the revitalizing air of the mountains and the Reformation, deep into Switzerland. Up, up, up into the Alps after that. Down, down, down through the Sound of Music hamlets of the Val d''Aosta. Then south into the radiance of Tuscan villages first inhabited in the Etruscan era twenty-five hundred years ago. In the end, it''s a straight line to St. Peter''s Square over the fabled Roman road, in hopes of meeting a pope with one working lung who is struggling to hold together the world''s 1.3 billion Roman Catholics through the worst crisis in half a millennium.

Now here is my first stop, St. Pancras station in central London. It''s another curious name, sounding like an homage to an internal organ. The tourist information booth has nothing on the origin. "Some kind of saint." Pancras, it turns out, was a teenage martyr, killed by the Romans in ad 304 for refusing to worship one of their gods. The boy was beheaded. He has a special place in England because some of his relics-body parts and the like-were carried to these shores in the first systematic attempt to bring Christianity to the island, in the sixth century.

The morning is lovely, May sunlight pouring through the big glass walls of the station. I pick up a couple of papers and magazines, happy to be in a city where print journalism is alive and shouting. It''s tempting to overstate things in the daily grind of events, but the news of the day seems monumental on all fronts. Britain is cracking up-an existential fight. Having shaped so much history for so many centuries, a fractious former imperial power struggles to find its place in the world, and with how much of that world to open its doors to. No nation is an island-even one that is an island-entire of itself. A shared national narrative, difficult in the best of times, is far out of reach for "this precious stone set in the silver sea," in Shakespeare''s perfect tribute.

And something else is running through the national disquiet: the kingdom is fast losing its belief in God. For the first time, more than half of all British say they have no religion at all. Some are looking for answers in the five-thousand-year-old Neolithic mystery of Newgrange in Ireland, a circular mound of tomb passages older than the Great Pyramids at Giza-a fascination of the neo-pagans. Others are dogmatically atheistic, if that isn''t oxymoronic. In between are people who haven''t given up on the Big Questions, but are checking out of organized religion in droves. The collapse has hit the Church of England hard, with just 15 percent of UK residents now calling themselves Anglican, the faith founded by Henry VIII. To this day, the head of the church, ninety-three-year-old Queen Elizabeth II, is also head of state. For centuries, in order to hold office or even attend college, you had to take an oath of supremacy, swearing to the monarch''s absolute power at the top of this nation''s established church.

One story predicts the end of British Christianity within fifty years, when the religion brought here with the bones of Saint Pancras will become "statistically invisible." Across the pond, a much slower-moving but similar trend is taking hold in America. There, the fastest-growing segment of belief is no particular belief-the Nones, as they''re called. Nearly seven in ten Americans are still Christian. But if White Anglo-Saxon Protestants were indeed the rootstock of the United States, then the mother ground is nearly barren. What''s happening is a mass exodus, particularly among the young: 71 percent of people aged eighteen to twenty-four say they have no religion. Since 1980, the Church of England has shuttered a thousand places of worship-great stone heaps, finely masoned and arched to high purpose, now demolished, sold at auction and repurposed, or left to rot.

This news sharpens my purpose. At times, we have trouble seeing history as it slow pivots. But here now is a moment that''s been building for a century. Britain-and much of Europe, the theological cradle of Christianity-has never been so removed from belief in God. It''s likely that a higher percentage of people once worshipped Odin or Jupiter than those who now regularly pray to the carpenter''s son from Nazareth. Elsewhere, the world is becoming more religious, and Christianity is growing, robustly so in China and Africa. With 2.2 billion followers, the faith that began as a small Jewish sect is by far the planet''s most popular and diverse religion. But in Europe, where the rules of the spiritual here and hereafter were shaped over centuries of bloodshed, it''s all a shrug.

One reason I want to follow the Via Francigena is to experience layers of time on consecrated ground. There''s barely a village along the way that has not played host to some life-changing event, a cathedral stairway that has not been trod by martyrs, madmen, or monarchs. Would there come a day when all those shrines and reliquaries would be nothing but Michelin-starred curiosities-left behind, like the great rock faces of Easter Island or Stonehenge? What was that all about, we may ask, looking at haloed humans fronting an oversized edifice in marble. In that sense, this adventure is an attempt to find God in Europe before God is gone.

But I have another motive to get moving over this sanctified pathway. For the enfeebled Church of England, the figure of Jesus is almost an afterthought; he is "sometimes compelling," as the Anglican bishop of Buckingham recently put it. I''m looking for something stronger: a stiff shot of no-bullshit spirituality. I have no idea what that is. I''ve never been "saved" or visited by an apparition or even had a prayer answered, that I know of. I''m a skeptic by profession, an Irish Catholic by baptism, culture, and upbringing-lapsed but listening, like half of all Americans of my family''s faith. I''m no longer comfortable in the squishy middle; it''s too easy. I''ve come to believe that an agnostic, as the Catholic comedian Stephen Colbert put it, "is just an atheist without balls." It''s time to force the issue, to decide what I believe or admit what I don''t.

I''m clearly not a theologian. Others can fight over doctrine, as they have for centuries. Others can see grave peril in something as simple as allowing a divorced Catholic to receive communion. The dancing-angel-counting on that head of a pin will continue until end times, preferably far out of sight. But if there are a small number of hardened truths to be found on this trail, let the path reveal itself. I feel driven by something I read from Saint Augustine during my prep work: "Men go abroad to admire the heights of mountains, the mighty waves of the sea, the broad tide of rivers, the vast compass of the ocean, the circular motion of the stars, and yet they pass over the mystery of themselves without a thought." We are spiritual beings. But for many of us, malnutrition of the soul is a plague of modern life.

One member of my family was nearly destroyed by religion. The men of faith in our diocese committed a monstrous crime. Another sibling was made whole by religion, after losing a son to murder and finding that no one but God could salve her wounds. There are no clean lines in our clan, only a muddle-rage mixed with redemption. I''m still haunted by the last hours of my mom''s life. She was a well-read, progressive Catholic, a mother of seven. "I''m not feeling it, Timmy," she said, the color fading from her face, the strangling tendrils of her brain cancer closing it, that lethal glioblastoma. "I''m not sure anymore. I don''t know what to believe or what''s ahead. I don''t . . . know."

I arrived on a Boeing 747 that is nearly twice as long as the Wright brothers'' first flight. I begin my passage with all the world''s known knowledge in the palm of my hand. And yet, I feel that so much is still unknown-the unquantifiable, my mother''s doubts on her deathbed. At the depth of this year''s dreary winter, I went to a "Search for Meaning" festival at Seattle University. I assumed it would be just a handful of the usual search-for-meaning suspects lamenting the meaninglessness of it all. But the major events were sold out, demand much greater than supply. At the same time, I started looking at pictures of the enchanting Via Francigena, this magnificent curiosity through the heart of secular Europe. The tug-and yes, the light, particularly in Italy-was irresistible. Here was a chance to consider two thousand years of theological thinking, refined by some of the best minds and tortured souls, all the opinionated ghosts of the Via Francigena.

Rome, by plane, is less than three hours away. My camino will take months, depending on dogs encountered, feet blistered, bad water ingested, and the wondrous distractions in between. Sigeric''s route gained prominence at the height of the medieval era, when upward of two million people journeyed south along this way every year. They took to the road to escape miserable lives, to look for plunder, to find a miracle cure for the everyday diseases that killed adults in their prime. And many thousands slogged through forests and bogs, past dens of thieves, renegade knights, and redoubts of rabid dogs, in searing heat and mortal cold, as a way to cinch a place in heaven. During a papal jubilee-a holy year-the church offered this pact: make an epic journey to Rome and receive a plenary indulgence in return, the slate of sin wiped clean. And no doubt, thousands more went out of a genuine desire to connect to God. It''s the same feeling today that motivates the 200 million people worldwide who make some form of spiritual pilgrimage every year. But among the 40,000 who stride over part of the modern V.F., most are not on a religious journey. They are seeking space to think, to reflect, to "learn how to waste time," as the European keepers of the trail reported in their most recent analysis.

In Canterbury, I walk from the train station to the cathedral, with one task ahead of me before I do anything else. I find my way to an office inside the medieval compound of the church and present my blank credential, the official record of anyone who attempts the Via Francigena. This is a personal record more than anything else, though the Catholic Church requires that certain stages be completed in order to receive the Vatican seal of the Testimonium at the end. I get my first stamp, the emblem of a cross on a shield, imprinted on a square of the page, marking a beginning. I start as a father, a husband, an American deeply troubled by the empty drift of our country. And for the next thousand miles or so, I will try to be a pilgrim.

two
A Canterbury Tale

The altar where Archbishop Thomas Becket was hacked to death by a quartet of knights on a December evening in 1170 was always a reason to come to Canterbury. You would want to kneel on the cold floor where the most powerful man of God in the kingdom fell. You might be lucky enough to get a drop of his diluted blood, the most precious commodity of the most visited site in a cathedral so crowded with history it is called England in Stone. You would, at the least, start a proper pilgrimage to Rome by leaving something of value behind at the place where church and state clashed with the shattering of a skull. And so today you study the bronze sculpture of two swords in the cathedral, and wonder why an 850-year-old crime scene is still one of the most sacred sites in all Christendom. It''s the first question a pilgrim confronts on the Via Francigena.

"Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?" The exact phrase of King Henry II may be less Shakespearean. He might have said "turbulent" priest. Or some other variant. No matter: the intent was the same. And so on December 29, nearly six centuries after the first archbishop of Canterbury had built a palace of worship on this ground, Henry''s knights butchered Thomas Becket. That should have been the end of it. But to still the heart of a nation''s highest-ranking ambassador of Christ, at a time when the church held sway over nearly every aspect of life and death in Europe, was not just a shocking affront; it was a declaration of war against the world order, undertaken to change the balance of power.

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A Pilgrimage online to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search discount of a Faith outlet sale

A Pilgrimage online to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search discount of a Faith outlet sale

A Pilgrimage online to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search discount of a Faith outlet sale

A Pilgrimage online to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search discount of a Faith outlet sale

A Pilgrimage online to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search discount of a Faith outlet sale

A Pilgrimage online to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search discount of a Faith outlet sale

A Pilgrimage online to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search discount of a Faith outlet sale

A Pilgrimage online to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search discount of a Faith outlet sale

A Pilgrimage online to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search discount of a Faith outlet sale

A Pilgrimage online to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search discount of a Faith outlet sale

A Pilgrimage online to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search discount of a Faith outlet sale

A Pilgrimage online to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search discount of a Faith outlet sale

A Pilgrimage online to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search discount of a Faith outlet sale

A Pilgrimage online to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search discount of a Faith outlet sale

A Pilgrimage online to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search discount of a Faith outlet sale

A Pilgrimage online to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search discount of a Faith outlet sale

A Pilgrimage online to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search discount of a Faith outlet sale

A Pilgrimage online to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search discount of a Faith outlet sale

A Pilgrimage online to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search discount of a Faith outlet sale

A Pilgrimage online to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search discount of a Faith outlet sale

A Pilgrimage online to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search discount of a Faith outlet sale

A Pilgrimage online to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search discount of a Faith outlet sale

A Pilgrimage online to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search discount of a Faith outlet sale

A Pilgrimage online to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search discount of a Faith outlet sale

A Pilgrimage online to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search discount of a Faith outlet sale

A Pilgrimage online to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search discount of a Faith outlet sale

A Pilgrimage online to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search discount of a Faith outlet sale

A Pilgrimage online to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search discount of a Faith outlet sale

A Pilgrimage online to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search discount of a Faith outlet sale

A Pilgrimage online to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search discount of a Faith outlet sale