MSSJ Swiss Pilgrimage, 2016

12th century frieze of pilgrims on the Via Francigena heading toward Rome (Fidenza Cathedral, source:

12th century frieze of pilgrims on the Via Francigena heading toward Rome (Fidenza Cathedral, source:

The Mormon Society of St. James is pleased to announce its fourth annual[1] pilgrimage in 2016, the Swiss Road of the Via Francigena (St. Francis’s Way), the ancient trading and pilgrimage route from Canterbury to Rome.

21Why Pilgrimage? “Once theophanies are localized, pilgrimages necessarily follow.”[2] It is a practice of potential spiritual transcendence that reaches back to at least the fourth century, likely earlier — references to pilgrimages to the Holy Land from as far afield as Gaul and Britain have been found in letters from the late fourth century. But Eusebius mentions a pilgrimage to Jerusalem undertaken in 217 A.D. And the Venerable Bede (672-735 A.D.) describes pilgrimages of Anglo-Saxon princes and princesses in Britain to show their Christian piety. By King Edgar’s reign (959-975 A.D.) it was firmly entrenched as a penitential act.

So, it has a long history. For some, that is enough of a reason. Each individual must answer the question for him or herself. But it doesn’t hurt Mormons who might be interested in the concept to review Ronan’s July 2015 Oxford Education Week talk about it.[3] There he explains that, for the Mormon Society of St. James, pilgrimage is “the cultivation of holy envy on foot.” That is, for Mormons to engage in an “inter-faith” practice such as a Christian or other holy pilgrimage (the MSSJ plans to walk at least part of the Shikoku 88 eventually), it is

“the enactment of Krister Stendahl’s principle of ‘holy envy’: an honest and open encounter to the possibility that the numinous may well have broken through in other traditions in ways that are not apparent in one’s own tradition. If exclusivism is your thing, then you can hold to that if that is your faith. Perhaps you believe that Mormonism holds an exclusive authority to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children in the temple, but authority is not the totality of the invisible church. There are many more facets of the Father’s kingdom and they can be found in the ‘divers precincts’ of the visible church.”

Walking pilgrimages has helped members of the Mormon Society of St. James to glimpse Nephi’s invisible Church of the Lamb in the various visible churches and spiritual experiences of various peoples and cultures (1 Nephi 14:10).

Members of the Mormon Society of St. James, Norwegian countryside, 2014

Members of the Mormon Society of St. James, Norwegian countryside, 2014

The main thing to understand is that all are welcome, none are denied. All you need to do to join this motley crew is to show up! The MSSJ has walked The Way of St. James in Spain, St. Olav’s Way in Norway, The Canterbury Way in England, St. David’s Way in Wales, as well as a number of local, mini-pilgrimage hikes, including to the Dominguez-Escalante cross in Spanish Fork Canyon, Utah and from Temple Square to Ensign Peak in Salt Lake City to commemorate the 24th of July.

In 2016 we will be walking a section of the Via Francigena in Switzerland. The Via Francigena is the ancient pilgrimage route to Rome. We will walk a 100 kilometer stretch of the road this year and next year we will walk the final 100 km stretch, past the new LDS Rome temple, into Rome to complete our two-year pilgrimage. Please go to the event on the MSSJ Facebook page if you are interested in joining us!


Via Francigena Pilgrimage
August 8-12, 2016
We will Walk from Aigle to Col du Grand St-Bernard
The distances each day are shown in this link:
(Scroll down to “70.8”)


[1] The Way of St. James, Spain, 2013
St. Olav’s Way, Norway, 2014
Canterbury Pilgrimage (The North Downs Way), 2015
Bonus: St. David’s Way, 2015


[3] “Encountering the Visible Church on the Pilgrimage Ways of Europe”


  1. I may consider joining this, but only if all participants agree to sing Sound of Music songs the whole time.

  2. So Aaron, you really hate the idea then.

  3. Wrong end of the Alps, Reevesie.

    These are seriously the highlight of my year. Cannot wait.

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