That was the question asked of me by several of the Augustinians with
whom I am sheltering in Martigny tonight. It's a natural enough thing
for them to wonder. In spite of the mention in Alison Raju's guidebook
to the Via Francigena, I'm fairly sure the Paroisse Catholique doesn't
get many pilgrims on their doorstep. They were very patient as I tried
to explain in my broken halting French what I was doing and what I
hoped they could do for me.
NOTE FOR ANY ASPIRING PILGRIMS READING THIS: When you seek a blessing
for your pilgrimage from the appropriate source, ask for it in writing
on official letterhead. Then get it translated into as many languages
as you'll need and that will fit on the page. Abouna Iskander, if
you're reading this, shukran gazeelan!
At any rate, I had arrived 10 minutes before dinner. I was shown to my
room and by the time I had washed up and changed I was ten minutes
late. A place had been set for me and my tardiness was not commented
on. After dinner I met one elderly father who has a beter command of
Old Church Slavonic than I do. (Not saying much, but still, it put a
smile on my face.) After learning that they serve Mass at 7:15 (and
explaining why I would not be communing) I crawled off to my room.
Finally, time for a shower and some horizontal time. The thick
feather comforter on the bed is utterly decadent. I woke up an hour
later and managed to get online using my Kindle. It is not an elegant
solution, but it works. What hasn't worked for me at all since
arriving in Switzerland is the global SIM wth data enabled. Once I
find some WiFi I'll have to look into that. Or just wait until I cross
And that leads me to the final topic I'll peck out on this - well,
I'll be charitable and call it a "functional" keyboard. I made it to
Martigny before dark, but it took me twice as long as it would have
three days ago. Given the terrain I need to cover in the next three
days of walking, I am not leaving this city until I can walk without
wincing. I should be good to go by Tuesday. These hydrocolloidal
dressings are awesome. I just need to spend as much time off my feet
as I can over the next few days.
I'm clean, warm, and well fed. As a pilgrim, there isn't much more you
can ask for.