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District 108L Lions Club International promotes the Via Francigena

District 108L Lions Club International is at the front line when it come to promoting peace, and the Via Francigena as Cultural Route of the Council of Europe represents the values of peace, respect, dialogue, democracy, and inclusion.

In District 108L (Umbria, Lazio, and Sardinia) the Via Francigena officially crosses through territories located within the region of Lazio and, in this regard, the district lions officer Sara Fresi has created a historical document entitled “Territories of Lazio crossed by the Via Francigena”. This document is a useful contribution for all those who wish to travel the Via Francigena and discover its picturesque landscapes and historical, cultural, monumental beauties. Following is the incipit of the document:

Territories of Lazio crossed by the Via Francigena, by Sara Fresi

In the 7th century the Longobards penetrated the Italian territory, occupying part of the peninsula at that time disputed with the Byzantines. They wanted to connect the Kingdom of Pavia with the southern duchies by means of a safe road across the Apennines, passing through the Cisa Pass: its name in ancient times was Mons Langobardorum, later called Via di Monte Bardone. It was basically a group of roads connected by consular and dirt roads. When the Franks took over in the Carolingian era, the Via di Monte Bardone changed its name to Via Francigena, or “road originating from France”.

Traffic along this route increased and, over the centuries, the road established itself as the main route linking northern and southern Europe, used by masses of pilgrims as well as merchants and armies. It also connected the three ‘Peregrinationes Maiores‘: Santiago de Compostela, the tomb of the Apostle Peter and the Holy Land. The European Network of the Vie Francigene is a legacy linking the present day to the cultural identities of the old continent.

A millenary route that crosses several European countries: England, France, Switzerland, and Italy. The Via Francigena in Italy crosses six regions: Valle d’Aosta, Piedmont, Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany and Lazio. The southern section of the Via Francigena, called the Via Francigena of the South, is a route of approximately 900 km that crosses five regions: Lazio, Campania, Basilicata, Molise, and Puglia. The stretch through the Lazio region is approximately 420 km long.

The whole document (in Italian) can be consulted by clicking here.

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The municipality of Saint Maurice (CH) becomes an EAVF member!

Saint Maurice, a small municipality in the Canton of Valais with great strategic importance, is located along the Swiss stretch of the Via Francigena, exactly halfway along the route followed by archbishop Sigeric on his journey to Rome. The European Association of Via Francigena Ways is incredibly happy to enrich its network with such an important institutional member, therefore we warmly welcome Saint Maurice and its representatives!

Saint Maurice is situated along the 51st stage of Sigeric’s itinerary and in Roman times was called Agaunum. It was located at a bottleneck formed by the Rhone river, thus taking on a role of great strategic importance. The famous Theban legion was stationed here, led by Maurice and exterminated at this location in the 3rd century for refusing to swear an oath to the gods before the battle because they had converted to Christianity. The martyrdom of St. Maurice and the legion turned ancient Agaunum into an important pilgrimage site along the Via Francigena.

The Abbey of Saint Maurice was founded on the tomb of the martyrs in 515 by Sigismund, son of the Burgundian king. From that moment the Abbey played an important role, becoming the centre of veneration of the martyrs and the main abbey in the Burgundian kingdom, as well as a pilgrimage destination. The Abbey of Saint Maurice thus became the oldest Christian monastery in the West and has been operative uninterruptedly since its foundation. Bearing witness to this past are the commemoration of Saint Maurice every 22 September and the Laus perennis, the perpetual prayer of the canons at the tomb of the martyrs, a custom that has continued for 1500 years.

Even today, Saint Maurice is the seat of ecclesiastical institutions and is known for its basilica and its church treasure, which contains rare masterpieces of sacred goldsmith’s art. Wars, fires, and falling rocks have repeatedly destroyed the funerary oratories, churches, and monastic buildings built in the 4th century at the foot of the cliff overlooking the site. The church was destroyed in 574 during a Lombard raid, but was rebuilt and enlarged based on the same floor plan under St. Gontrand (561-592). Numerous reconstruction phases and extensions followed.

The Trésor de l’Abbaye, one of the richest in Europe, consists mainly of reliquaries, including for example “St Martin’s Vase” and Theuderic’s casket both dating back to the 7th century A.D., as well as Charlemagne’s aquamanile from the 9th century and the so-called “bag of Saints Innocent and Candide” from the 12th century.

This small jewel of nature, art, and history has been a valuable part of the Via Francigena over the past centuries and now hand-in-hand with EAVF will continue to amaze pilgrims and visitors alike in the decades to come!

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

The Castle of Saint Maurice

– Technical information about Via Francigena Switzerland stage 07 Aigle – Saint Maurice

– Technical information about Via Francigena Switzerland stage 08 Saint Maurice – Martigny

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Criticalities of the walking path

Attention: landslide in Casalina, Pontremoli (Tuscany) (Via Francigena Italy, stage 22)

We have been informed that in the town of Casalina, along the stage that leads from the Cisa Pass to Pontremoli, a landslide has occurred on the road that passes through the town, causing the wall supporting the road to collapse.

It is a very picturesque stretch that leads to a bridge next to an old mill, from where the road continues underneath the chestnut trees.

The local authorities have been notified.