June 2018                                            e-newsletter number four
Welcome to the fourth e-newsletter of the Confraternity of Pilgrims to Rome.

  • Pilgrim evening in Canterbury
  • Reims pilgrims discover Kent
  • "Long Rider to Rome"
  •  September Pilgrim Festival
  • Privacy policy
The flauting harper arrives in Canterbury
On 14 May, Anja Bakker, accompanied by her harp known as Sean, arrived in Canterbury after two months walking and playing their way from West Cork, Ireland.  Anja and Sean are on a pilgrimage to Rome, enchanting audiences as they go and making history as the first female bardic harper ever recorded to make the journey. 

To mark this historic journey, Martin Latham, manager of Waterstones bookshop in Canterbury, organised a Pilgrim Evening.  The evening opened with a talk by Harry Bucknall, author of Like a Tramp Like a Pilgrim which describes his own pilgrimage to Rome in 2012. 
In the following question and answer session with Harry and Anja, Anja described the generosity she had experienced thus far on her journey. Accommodation and food had been offered freely by strangers along the road from Ireland.  All she was asked in return was her company and to hear her music.  The evening concluded with a short performance.  The beautiful music Anja and Sean make together with voice and harp takes the listener back in time. 

Anja and Sean are currently making their way through northern France.  You can follow their journey on Facebook, Twitter @TheFlautingHarper, and listen to samples of their music on Anja’s website:


French pilgrims discover Kent

The walking group RP51 (Randonneurs et Pélerins 51) from Reims travelled to Canterbury on 18 May for a three-day walking experience in Kent.  Most of the members of the group have experienced the Camino de Santiago and are now passionate about pilgrimage.  The trip to Kent was planned to enable to the group to have both a cultural experience and to walk in the region, on the Via Francigena from Canterbury to Dover and along the Dover Cliffs from Deal to Dover. 

The cultural highlights included Canterbury Cathedral, the churches along the Via Francigena, as well as the lovely church of Barfrestone (see picture above), which lies a mile off the route to the east of Shepherdswell.  Julia Peters, Canterbury Representative of the CPR, walked with the group and acted as guide on Sunday 20 May. 

The group were particularly impressed with the hospitality they had received at the churches of Patrixbourne and Womenswold.  It was good to hear that initiatives to promote pilgrimage locally by the CPR and others have created a cohesive network of churches and local people who are aware of pilgrimage and the needs of pilgrims. 

Stopping at St. Andrew’s church in Shepherdswell, the group were excited to meet two pilgrims who were starting their journey to Rome.  Bashi, originally from Kashmir and now based in London, was walking with Camino friend Peter from Germany.  They plan to walk in stages over the next five years to make the full journey to Rome. 

Speaking with Sylvie Colegrave, one of the organisers of the RP 51 group, Julia Peters suggested  organising a joint walk in 2019 with the Confraternity of Pilgrims to Rome, the Arras-Compostelle -Francigena Association and the RP 51 group.  Forging connections to French associations interested in pilgrimage is an important step in the development of the Via Francigena in France.  The CPR has just 20 miles to manage in the UK, while our French partners struggle with over 400 miles. 
  • Look out for more news about this in future newsletters.
Riding to Rome on horseback
 Mefo Phillips as been a writer and horse rider for most of her life. Now retired from criminal law, she has the opportunity to indulge her addiction to equine travel - which began in her twenties when she worked for an American rodeo travelling in Europe and was thrown out of a stage coach twice a night.
Here is a flavour of her travels to Rome:
 “Another corner, another surprise the other side: a photographer standing at the roadside with a bride and groom, he in a dark suit, she in a floaty dress as pristine as the snows of Mont Blanc and cut extremely low.  They’re delighted to see us and it seems we’ve turned up right on cue: ‘Madame, may we photograph your horse with us?’ ‘No problem,’ I say.
 Leo strides suavely up to the bride and buries his nose in her cleavage, snuffling lasciviously ... The camera’s clicking as I haul him back, and the reason for his over-familiar behaviour is clenched in his teeth – the bride’s corsage of white roses.  I yank them out of his mouth and hand back some tattered stalks, and luckily she sees the funny side.  All the same, it would probably be politic to remove him before she also notices the green slobber trickling down her dress.”
  • Mefo Phillips’s book, Long Rider to Rome, will be launched at Waterstones in Canterbury on 26 July. 
Pilgrim Festival in September
Kent will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the North Downs Way during the week of 24-30 September.  As part of this festival there will be a full programme of events, including a literary evening on 26 September, with a performance of Chaucer’s The Miller’s Tale by the Dover Players and talks by several pilgrim authors including Brian Mooney, chairman of the CPR, who wrote A Long way for a Pizza, and Harry Bucknall, author of Like a Tramp, Like a Pilgrim .
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