VF Day 49-50: Religion & Pilgrimage

Aug 7, 2022 | All Blog Posts, Via Francigena | 6 comments

I’m not a religious person. I am a God-fearing woman who was raised with religion. I respect it. I respect the impact it has on the lives of many. I raised my son to love God but respect the differences in others.

Religion has torn apart families, it has brought families together. It has destroyed communities and countries, but it can bring them together. Brian and I have worked and volunteered in churches for much of our lives. We’ve seen the labor of love that goes into preparing for a church service but we have also seen the politics, backstabbing, judgmental, gossip-driven ugly side of the church.

Pace means peace ❤️

We chose to live a life of loving people equally, completely, without judgment, and without pressuring them to believe in one thing or another. I utterly appreciate that we all see the world differently and live differently. It’s what makes traveling the world a rich experience. If anyone wants to talk to me about God, I will happily tell them about my spiritual path. However, I will not ask them to share that belief. I will live by example when it comes to those who know me, love me, and learn from me but that is where it ends.

Have I set the stage for this blog? Haha! The Via Francigena, along with the other Caminos we have completed, are ancient Catholic pilgrimages. So why would those who are not religious walk them? It’s a great question and one that is discussed among fellow pilgrims along the Way.

The simple answer is we walk for the adventure, the time together, and to experience a new culture. The long answer isn’t much different. We love to be more than tourists, which can be challenging with other types of travel. Even when we are traveling in our RV we don’t move as slowly as we do when we are walking. Maybe when we are retired and can stay in one area for a long period of time it will be a similar experience but, for now, this is the best way to immerse ourselves in another culture.

Because we respect other religions, we enjoy getting to know how others worship. The pilgrimages we have completed are Catholic but there are pilgrimages where we can experience other faiths. One, in particular, that interest us is the sister pilgrimage to the Camino Frances in Japan where you walk from Buddhist Temple to Buddhist temple. Who knows, maybe you’ll see us walking that next?

The churches are just stunning

You don’t have to be religious to walk a pilgrimage. I think the most important part is to be respectful, like learning a few words so you can express kindness in the language of the country you are traveling in. When you go into churches, take off your hat, be quiet, and respect those who are there to worship. 

There is a lot of history along a pilgrimage route. It’s always great to read as much as you can before you go. Then as you are walking you will appreciate more of what you are seeing because it will be familiar.

Walking pilgrimage has made us even more respectful and accepting of our differences and more appreciative of the gifts that have been given to us. These are gifts I will be grateful for forever. It brings me to tears when I see how abrasive people can be to each other. It breaks my heart to watch others push their opinions and tell others how to live. I wish everyone could go on a pilgrimage, the world would be a more understanding place.

Grazie, thank you, for reading my blogs as we walked. I will have more coming in the months ahead as we reflect on our adventure. I will talk about our budget, our lodging choices, language barriers, and overcoming my “I am not sure I can” mentality (which is almost as bad as I can’t).

If you haven’t watched our Via Francigena videos on YouTube, what are you waiting for? 😆❤️ See the playlist when you click here.

If this blog inspired you, please click the like button! 👍🏼 If there is something else you want me to talk about, please leave a comment below. If you are walking a pilgrimage in the future, I would love to know about it, leave a comment.

Please remember your blessings and respect the differences in others.


  1. Georgia

    What a lovely post, Michelle! I have enjoyed all of your videos and blogs, and I appreciate the time you have taken to write your blog and post videos. I know you must have been exhausted during your pilgrimage, yet you managed to document your journey. Thank you. I’ve learned so much that will be helpful for my upcoming pilgrimage. I can’t wait for your further updates!

    • The Colemans

      Thank you Georgia!!

  2. Tracey

    Thanks Michelle. Congratulations on making it to Rome. I look forward to the nitty gritty with budgets and how far ahead you booked accommodation. Did you book everything in advance? I’m with you on religion. Being kind and generous with good values is far more important along with respect for other’s beliefs…and the churches and cathedrals can be stunning.

    • The Colemans

      Hi Tracey! Sorry for the delay, I missed this message. Hopefully, I will have a blog about money very soon. We finished our pilgrimage, went into tourist mode to enjoy Italy, then came home, and started work immediately. We did book all of our rooms in advance. It worked for us but it’s not for everyone. Glad you enjoyed the blogs!!

  3. Chris

    Thank you for all your blogs and especially the videos , having walked from Canterbury to Rome in 2005 when there were no guide books except the two small “vademecum” produced by the “Association Via Francigena” , GPS etc it was fascinating to se how things have developed on the VF over the last 17 years . Your expertise with modern technology and being able to produce the video material en-route was very impressive…….perhaps the singing could do with a little more practice !! Thank you for bringing back some very special memories when walking through Switzerland and Italy all those years ago……..Chris

    • The Colemans

      Thanks, Chris! And yes, our singing needs a lot of work. 😆


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