15 September 2017
Departure: Rionero Sannitico – 5:00 am
Distance: 32,0 Km
Moving Time: 5h 59m
Elevation gain: 718 mt
The night was quite busy. The ground, even if I had placed my mat on long, soft grass, soon turned out to be damp and uncomfortable. Moreover, whenever I made a minimum movement, the dogs of the houses around started barking threatening to reveal my presence to everyone around. I certainly didn’t want to give the impression to be a trespasser who was hiding himself, rather than the inexpert and exhausted pilgrim.
I left very early, even before dawn, and in fact I turned on the Strava app at exactly 5:00 am, starting to walk while dark dark. I passed the town center, and as soon as I was about to walk down the road that led me to the heart of Molise, I realized that without the light of the city lights it was almost impossible to continue. I found a house under construction, went up to the first floor, unrolled the mat again and placed the sleeping bag. I was still very sleepy and managed to snatch another hour or two before the beginning of my new day of walking.
The morning was cool although sunny, I continued, as planned, to follow the remains of the path of the old Pescasseroli-Candela drovers’ road. Near Forlì del Sannio I asked some information about this old way of transhumance to a local elder, and the story that reported me back was really surprising. The shepherds on horseback who led the caravans, the noise of the many bells, the whole town celebrating for the special occasion, the short story of that man, at that time child, really transported me back in time, to a place where the life of creation, of the animals, it was really interlinked with the ones of men. The inhabitants were supplying fresh and nutritious food, usually only in exchange for shepherds’ hospitality, and the sheepmen’ hard journey was well rewarded at the arrival in towns. What a sad thought I had once learn that we have lost such a traditions so rich in values.
I continued my journey towards the city of Isernia, the continuous ups and downs of the road between the mountains was really arduous (Macerone’s pass), but so immersed in the green that I could not find the strength to push harder on my legs. Furthermore, water and fruit on the street were abundant. The Bible also attests that taking the strict necessary in the fields does not blemish you with the sin of stealing (Leviticus 19, 9-10 and Deuteronomy 24, 20-22) and I have always followed more the impeccable Law of GOD than the imperfect law of man.
I arrived in Isernia avoiding as much as possible the crowded roads, and immediately continue to the final destination of the day: the Sanctuary of Lady of Sorrows in Castelpetroso.
Near Pettoranello del Molise, I walked out the Road S.S. 17 cutting through fields saving few kilometers of walking. Then, after a brief break in the countryside, I started going up the old mountain’s path (pictured in gallery below) that led to the Basilica.
I was amazed at how many people and how much animation there was in that magnificent place of worship. As soon as I arrived I prayed inside and after I went to ask for information to request hospitality. I immediately learned from a receptionist that this was a day of celebration: the celebration of the Lady of Sorrows. Immediately my thoughts went to my mother, and to how much pain my departure had caused her, but I did not blame myself on my operate as a son, GOD knew my heart, and I was aware of my mother’s Soul. I was conscious of the distress that my journey was causing her, but at the same I was uplifted thinking of how good was generating this walk of Faith in my Spirit. This powerful woman has always been my strength, as in my theological studies, in prayer and in life; I was confident that we both would not have been abandoned by our FATHER.
A friendly receptionist named Francesca explained me that on such a busy day for the Sanctuary no further hospitality was provided for guests without prior notice. But after briefly explaining my status as an legitimate pilgrim (since I arrived there without taking any transportation like the other visitors of that day) she did hes best to guarantee me an accommodation. The concept of pilgrim nowadays I think is often misunderstood, the word (from the Latin peregrinus) it does refers to “foreigner”, but analyzing the etymology we discover that the origin comes from “per + agros” (agros = fields), means by those who crossed even through fields to reach their destination. Therefore originally in ancient Rome they were those free people who, not having the status of a Roman citizen, often found themselves traveling city to city on foot. I was very pleased to received a “fast track” and to have been helped in extremis, I never announced in advance to ecclesial communities my arrival during the pilgrimage (except during the walk on October 27th 2017 in the Monastic Republic of Mount Athos in Greece due to the bureaucratic problems with customs), welcoming, likewise rejection, both comes from the Providence of GOD, and having Faith means just that: trusting.
I would have slept on a bed and received some warm food. The duty of receiving me was commissioned to a nun who immediately took care of me with concern (Matthew 25, 35-40), it makes you very appreciative to find ecclesiastics who truly work in the Name of GOD. Sister Boniconsilli was for me the first experience of a clergy that really operate, remaining close to me first of all through prayer, and this gave me great strength during the continuation of my efforts while walking.
The dinner was tasty and abundant, and the night calm and restorative, there are places on Earth that emanate sacredness, and where the presence of the Divine is more perceived, and the Sanctuary of Castelpetroso has always remained one of these places for me.
“I have placed the LORD before me constantly; because [He is] at my right hand, I will not falter.”
(Book of Psalm 46, 1 *)
* In the Hebrew canon v.1 (considered as introduction) is v.2:
Hebrew: לַֽמְנַצֵּ֥חַ לִבְנֵי־קֹ֑רַח עַל־עֲלָמ֥וֹת שִֽׁיר
English: Per il conduttore[maestro del coro], un salmo [una canzone] dei figli di Korah, su alamoth