Tag Archives: pilgrimage

Pilgrimage – the road to Istanbul

Some of you, at least in the UK, may have watched the previous two programmes of BBC’s Pilgrimage series, and might like to watch the third installment which has just started on BBC2.

Hot on the heels of their predecessors, who journeyed to Santiago and Rome, seven new celebrities are set to embark on their own journey of discovery – this time to Istanbul. I’m not sure this is an actual pilgrimage route as such, but what the hell. It runs through a beautiful part of Europe and it features Dom Jolly who is always fun.

Taking part is journalist Adrian Chiles, a converted Catholic; former politician Edwina Currie, a lapsed Jew; Olympian Fatima Whitbread, a Christian; broadcaster Mim Shaikh and TV presenter Amar Latif, both Muslims; and two confirmed atheists, comedian Dom Joly and actress Pauline McLynn.

Donning backpacks, the group will spend just over two weeks living as simple pilgrims following an ancient 1,000km military route, which has been transformed into a modern-day path of peace.

Starting in Serbia’s capital city Belgrade, the pilgrims will travel through Bulgaria and the mountainous Balkans, before crossing the border into Turkey, with their goal of reaching Istanbul and the Suleymaniye Mosque.

I have yet to watch this and don’t know which old route they may have followed, but some of it will probably cross places visited by Paddy, and they may even use parts of the Via Egnatia that I started to walk ten years ago; I must finish it sometime!

Find out more and watch (if your location permits) here. If you use a VPN package like Nord VPN (which is top grade VPN) you can connect to the UK.

By the Sea of Galilee

“O Sabbath rest by Galilee!

O calm of hills above,

Where Jesus knelt to share with thee

The silence of eternity,

Interpreted by love!”

The third verse of John Greenleaf Whittier’s hymn, Dear Lord and Father of Mankind, describes perfectly the scene today as I commenced my Holy Land pilgrimage. It is a calm place and as dawn broke this morning the mist that covered the Sea of Galilee slowly lifted revealing the hills of the Golan Heights to our East. I enjoyed the freedom of running by the lake and taking an impromptu swim.

The lake, so smooth and calm, is intimately associated with the life and teaching of Christ, and of many of his disciples, including Simon-Peter, who were fisherman from the area of Capernaum. The road over the hills from Nazareth through the Valley of the Pigeons ends at the village of Magdala. Jesus took that road on his journey to Galilee and it was at Magdala that he first met Mary whom we know as Magdalen.

I will write short dispatches, internet access permitting, for both my blogs as my journey progresses. As one correspondent said to me in an email recently, I do manage to stretch the point sometime, and my excuse for posting on both blogs is that there will be some direct relevance to MyByzantine blog, but for my Patrick Leigh Fermor blog the point is much less clear! As far as I know Paddy never visited Israel – I now expect corrections! – but he does love churches, and religious art, and I shall be seeing much of that in the next few days, so I think (and hope) Paddy might approve!