Hoofprints of the Stag

Hoofprints of the Stag

Monday, April 21, 2014

Reasons for the Creation of this Blog

My namesake
Since none have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events that will be fulfilled among us, just as those who were pilgrims from the beginning and authors of the books have handed them down to us, I, too have decided, after investigating everything accurately anew, to blog it down in an orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which, up to this point, you have not been instructed.  (cf. Luke 1:1-4)

In the Lukan tradition, I have begun with an address to you, Theophilus ("Friend of God"), to commence this blog about a pilgrimage that my friend, Edward, and I will be making this summer from June 17 - July 31.  The basic idea is that we are going to recreate the pilgrimage Hilaire Belloc made and wrote about in his 1901 book "The Path to Rome," considered by Belloc and many others to be his greatest literary work.  Belloc began his journey in the northeastern French town of Toul and proceeded to journey in as straight a line as he could all the way to Rome.  It took him a little less than a month.

Hilaire Belloc

Our planning for this pilgrimage is progressing as Ed and I train for the grueling ~25-30 mile a day hikes we will endure and as I try as best as I can to acquire a minimal vocabulary in German and Italian and refresh my knowledge of French.  That is coming along rather slowly.  I have gathered maps and made note of most of the towns that Belloc mentions in his book.  No doubt much of the landscape has changed since Belloc's time.  And of course Ed and I are both beginning to research and purchase the gear we will need for our arduous journey.  Unfortunately, Belloc makes little note of what he takes with him in his book, which leaves us very little to go on.  I do recall that Belloc brings with him two pipes because he mentions that he gives the lesser of his two pipes away to someone who guides him across a river.

Here is a link to a google map in which I compiled the various cities and towns Belloc mentions in his book: Google Map of the Path to Rome

The purpose of our pilgrimage is twofold; it is both a spiritual and a literary journey.  When we return from Rome, Ed and I plan on 'writing the sequel' to Belloc's work, which will catalog our steps, our musings, and our prayers along the way.  No doubt this blog will eventually serve as a frame for our book later on (though the book will certainly contain more).  How very like Bilbo we shall be as we travel there and back again.

Ed and I
In the course of doing research for this journey, I came across another instance of someone recreating Belloc's quest.  British author Peter Francis Browne completed the journey in the 90s and wrote his subsequent book, "Rambling on the Road to Rome."  His book is much different than Belloc's both in style and in general disposition.  Nevertheless, it has served as an invaluable guide for me, not only as simple evidence that such a trek will still be possible today, but also because Browne provides many more details about his stops and encounters than Belloc does.  His attitude toward Catholicism and religion in general is very cold, but his writing is so enjoyable that I was compelled to overlook it.  At any rate, it seems Browne may have beaten us to the punch, but our book will not only be a travelogue as Browne's is, but a spiritual account as well, which will set our book apart.  Actually, Ed will be more the literary executor, so I can't really claim to know how exactly the book will turn out.

Some will call us crazy (and some have already done so), and it is true that we could probably find many reasons not to go on this journey.  But as we are young and have few external obligations and as we finally have free summers that coincide, now is the time.  As Jan from The Office says in response to Pam's excuses not to pursue art school, "There's always a million reasons not to do something."

What reasons are preventing you from doing that wonderful thing or going on that wonderful adventure or pursuing that unique hobby?  Those reasons will always be there, but the opportunity may not be.


  1. I am so proud of you! Take advantage of every opportunity life brings you. Surely the Holy Spirit is guiding you.

  2. I shall be following this blog.

  3. Happy Trails Luke and Ed.

    Uncle Pat

  4. We are enjoying your updates and keeping you in our prayers. Be safe on your journey!

    Love, Aunt Lorinda and Uncle Jim