16 September 2017
Departure: Castelpetroso – 11:29 am
Arrival: Heremitage of Saint’Egidio
Distance: 28,8 Km
Moving Time: 5h 08m
Elevation gain: 886 mt
I woke up pretty late, feeling really refreshed by the good food and reinvigorated by the warm water of the shower which, after only six days away from home, seemed to me a great honor. It is truly amazing how the journey as a pilgrim, away from modern standards of comfort, can reset the order of necessities in a man’s life. Few things in our lives are really useful, and very few are indispensable, one of the most beautiful things that this journey has left me, is returning to appreciate small things, those in which lies the true peace of the soul. Socrates also teaches us that: “happy, he is the one who is satisfied with little”, also claiming that wealth does not come from the things one possesses, but from nature (as Baruch Spinoza brilliantly instructed as the CREATOR, being truly infinite, cannot be also part of the whole Creation), and the nature is GOD.
I remember that as soon I took back the State Road 17, I had my first experience with an automobilist who stopped by offering me a lift. It is really difficult to refuse when you are tired, and when the driver is particularly insistent (although if in a very, well received for me, empathetic altruism). Moreover the middle age man was a priest, probably also right get out of the Sanctuary, and at my refusal he remained quite surprised. I tried to justify myself with kindness, explaining that I preferred to continue by foot, and so, after having insisted a little he left, but I was able to see, by his features as he left, a certain pout that made me smile inside. I could not start telling anyone who stopped by about the vow I had made to GOD to arrive to Jerusalem on foot, after all, most probably I would not even have been believed, and so my spirit promptly exonerate itself and I get back on walking. Soon, however, I began to get used to walking on the opposite direction of cars, avoiding to give the idea of being a hitchhiker.
Time soon I abandoned the S.S. 17 preferring secondary roads and the dirt pathways of the magnificent countryside bordering on Cantalupo nel Sannio (gpx map below), nature has always been for me the best traveling companion. I continued to have much strength in spirit and on my legs, what motivated me most was constantly present within me: the adoration for GOD (the Faith), and the desire to acquire Knowledge. I really succeeded in optimally spacing out for all my 101 days on the road both, study (with the help of my multimedia device), and meditation, which often subverted in prayer and praise.
The stretch in the midst of those green fields of Molise in late September was magnificent, and the memories of those places traveled (as well as many others in Italy and in foreign country), have remained surprisingly still very clear in my memory. How many territories I passed that left me stunned during these first days of pilgrimage, and yet I should have known how much beauty was hidden in these lands. On the other hand, in my sixth day of walking, I was only an hour’s drive away from my birthplace, it seemed weird, but I was starting to realize why: You can say that you really know a place only if you walk through it by feet. Walking allow you to admire every single feet of the road, walking you learn about life, and better the purpose of your journey. The greatest thoughts are elaborated while walking, the wounds of the past days are more easily healed, and I finally felt really close to my ancestors, not only with the body that sacrificed itself, but in a special way with the Spirit that expanded itself. The greatest miracle is not being able to fly or walk on water, but to proceed on foot and travel the land.
The first useless barrier that collapsed inside me, was erected by my ego, the judgment that others had about me, and that had often influenced me in life, no longer mattered to me. Initially, I traveled along secondary roads, to not be seen, and therefore judged, not because I cared about that judgment, but simply to not “feel myself on others’ lips” during such a personal journey. Too easily and too often one judges without knowing and without moderation, initially the idea of being able to be assimilated to a homeless or to a vagabond hurt me (for I had a destination so well imprinted in the heart). Even asking for hospitality and food by an ecclesiastical organization distressed me, I reasoned that I should not have embarrassed since my needs (water, food and a shelter for the night) were really vital fot me, we are all brothers and sisters on this earth, and only by loving the neighbor that is seen, can one’s love the concealed GOD, who cannot be seen. End justifies the means, I no longer understood the reason why I should have been ashamed.
I arrived in Bojano, and immediately went to a local supermarket where I bought some food with the money I received from the previous offers, and I asked for information about the area to look for a monastery or a convent to request hospitality. I came to know that day of existence in the area of the Hermitage of Sant’Egidio, and, even though it was in a very remote area (not even cars could get there), I decided to walk there. I was happy to do a day of detour to see an ecclesiastical construction of such great merit and purpose, the road on the Matese massif was quite arduous, but it was really worth it.
I arrived at 1025 meters (3362 ft) on the sea level after night had already fallen over the hermitage, I heard voices and saw fire burning, I approached and saw figures, two young men and a nun. They were much happier to see a weary pilgrim than the fierce boar they had originally hypothesised could appear as a result of my footsteps noises. The evening began with a smile, those boys informed me that they were camping in honor of the annual feast of the patron Saint, and as they had offered the nun of the hermitage some barbecued meat, they offered it to me. I had encountered the second solemn anniversary in two days, I do not believe in fate, but in thanking GOD, truly those first experiences were welcomed by me in a propitiatory way for the continuation of my pilgrimage.
“The most important relationship we can all have is the one you have with yourself, the most important journey you can take is one of self-discovery. To know yourself, you must spend time with yourself, you must not be afraid to be alone. Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”