On Wednesday 27 April 2022, members of the European Association of Via Francigena ways (EAVF) will meet in Canterbury (Kent County, England), km 0 of the Via Francigena.
For the first time in the history of the EAVF, founded in 2001 in Fidenza (Italy), the assembly will be hosted in England, in Canterbury, inside the prestigious Cathedral Lodge. The event is hosted by the Canterbury City Council and organized with the collaboration of the Confraternity of Pilgrims to Rome and North Downs Way. It will be attended by representatives of municipalities, provinces, departments and regions from the four countries crossed by the Via, as well as numerous associations of walkers and volunteers.
On the agenda there are some very important bulletpoints: the approval of budget and reporting of the last activities carried out; updates on the candidacy process of the Via Francigena as Unesco World Heritage; the renewal of the association’s office charges. A preview of the final docufilm about last year’s epic journey “Via Francigena. Road to Rome 2021. Start again!“, which celebrated the 20th anniversary of the EAVF, will be presented. The initiave was long relay race that lasted 127 days and was 3,200 km long, networking 658 municipalities and consolidating unity between peoples and cultures along the Via Francigena.
Important cultural events will take place alongside the assembly. On the afternoon of the 26th, a religious celebration is planned at the Cathedral in the presence of a group of pilgrims from the Confraternity Pilgrims to Rome, led by President Giancarlo Laurenzi. These pilgrims will walk the historical London-Canterbury trail and arrive the day before the Assembly to meet EAVF’s representatives. All participants will then visit Canterbury’s Cathedral. The pilgrim’s stick will be blessed in the crypt; a stick made by the Irish craftsman Michael Walsh that accompanied the group of walkers during the entire Road to Rome march last summer. On the morning of 27 April, there will be a guided tour of the old city centre, whereas on the 28th a 10 km walk is organised along the Canterbury-Dover stretch. Such a walk will allow the group to explore the first section of the route, well maintained and signposted by North Downs Way. EAVF’s staff will walk the entire 32 km of the first stage with the same pilgrim’s staff, to symbolically close the relay which started last 17 June from Calais.