In 990 AD Sigeric was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury by the Pope. As a result, he had to travel to Rome to receive his liturgical vestment known as a Pallium. On his return journey he wrote a diary mentioning 79 places where he stopped and rested. Consequently, ‘Sigeric’s Stopovers’ form the basis of today’s Via Francigena pilgrim route.
In today’s world, the modern day pilgrim walks in Sigeric’s footsteps. The pilgrimage starts in Canterbury, continues through France, then Switzerland and down through Italy to Rome. The entire pilgrimage covers a distance of 1900 km. And the weary pilgrim is rewarded with a Testimonium at St Peter’s Basilica.
It is not always possible to set out on a 1900 km walk! So, the Via Francigena can commence at any point along the way. However, to receive the Testimonium in Rome, the last 100 km from Montefiascone to Rome must be walked.
The pilgrim’s journey is recorded in a Pilgrim’s Credential. The idea is to obtain stamps at each ‘stopover’. Stamps are available at Via Francigena recognised accommodation, some cathedrals and most tourist offices. Collectively, they make a great record of the journey! And most importantly, when presented in Rome result in the pleasure of receiving a pilgrim’s Testimonium. Pilgrim’s take great pride in receiving their Testimonium. And I know quite a few who have their Testimonium framed.