The Columban Way: a Route to Jubilee 2025

Cristian Colombo writes about the completion of the Columban Way in Italy and its recognition by the Italian Tourist Board.  

It all began with a dream. St Columban’s mother dreamt that the sun descended into the womb of a woman and that this sun in turn escorted the world out of darkness. She dreamt that fourteen centuries ago in 543AD prior to giving birth to her son, Columban, who would pioneer the concept of European unity. A saint recognised in both the Catholic and Anglican Churches.

St Columban’s mission: Peregrinatio pro Christo continues to resonate today with the followers of St Columban and the Columban fraternity who seek to spread the Irish monk’s message. The Columban Way is a Europe-wide route that crosses from north to south, linking up a network of historic sites associated with St Columban, from Ireland, across England, through France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein and into Italy.

As it continues to develop, this heritage trail is becoming one of the great pilgrimage routes of Europe, along with the Camino de Santiago. The Columban Way celebrates the heritage of the ‘Irish missionary movement’ of the 6th to 8th centuries, in particular the story of St Columban or Columbanus and St Gall, who travelled across Europe in this period of great turbulence and conflict, founding monastic communities that would flourish until the late middle ages.

The European Association of the Columban Way has supported and researched the development of the heritage trail, using anecdotes recorded by Jonah of Bobbio in the Vitae Sancti Columbani and beginning with Columban’s initial journeys in his native Ireland and ending in Bobbio.

The Columban Way

It is a cultural and religious project aimed at tracking one of the oldest paths in European history through historic villages in rural areas, across eight countries. The legacy of St Columban was the inspiration for a bold dream in 2014, when the Columban route was mapped by the European Association of the Columban Way.

We are delighted that the final 330 kilometres, corresponding to the Italian section of the route, was earlier this year included in the Catalogue of Italian Religious Paths.

This puts the Columban Way trail in Italy on the map for the Catholic Church’s 2025 Jubilee of Hope Year as a route. Three associations, founded on the Columban spirit of fraternity, have contributed to the mapping and development of the route.

They are: Associazione Amici del Camminodi San Colombano of Vaprio d’Adda (from the Swiss border to Milan), Associazione Amici di San Colombano per l’Europa of San Colombano al Lambro (from Milan to the ford of Sigerico) and the Associazione Amici di San Colombano of Bobbio for the last part of the pilgrim route.

The stretch from Milan to the tomb of St Columban in Bobbio (150 kilometers) is structured in eight stages based on the model of the Camino de Santiago. Stamps certifying participation in the pilgrimage will be issued to pilgrims.

Those who travel a distance less than 150 kilometres will still be awarded a Chartula Peregrini, a certificate given to all pilgrims arriving in Bobbio regardless of the distance travelled. It recognises that it is not the distance travelled that makes the pilgrim, but the spirit with which he or she arrives in Bobbio.

Cristian Colombo is an Italian academic who has studied at the Catholic University of Milan. He is a member of the Association of Friends of St Columban in Italy.

For more information see: https://www.thecolumbanway.org/en/home/

 

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