On 1 December 2019 Andrea Devicenzi, Paralympic athlete and Via Francigena ambassador, concluded his journey along the Francigena, having reached St. Peter's Square in Rome after 1000 km journey (Interview Link).
"A 1,000-kilometer project that, after arriving on 1 December in St. Peter's Square, saw the return of part of my team for a special meeting", the Paralympic athlete tells us.
The mental coach, who now lives in Martignana di Po, a small town in the province of Cremona, was able to greet Pope Francis on Wednesday 4 December 2019 at the general audience in St. Peter's Square.
"We have exceeded our expectations by meeting the Pope in St. Peter's Square. Little time was available, because there were many people whom he had to meet, but from his smile and a handshake, I passed on the energy to my team and perhaps also the suffering to the hands that accompanied me", explains Andrea.
A perfect end to an adventure that began on 14 March 2019 from Aosta Italy, at a rate of 4 - 5 days at a time, with breaks of a few weeks, and then resuming the journey to Rome. A journey that, from stage to stage, has seen more and more friends accompany the athlete in his enterprise. Andrea's journey has in fact also enabled development and testing of an important support tool, the personalized "Katana" crutch.
A story made of determination and solidarity was closely followed by many Municipalities of the Via Francigena, a journey full of emotions told by the European Association of the Via Francigena Ways (EAVF) via social channels. "We started quietly with 7 friends willing to reach Rome, sharing our stories and bringing as many people as possible on the Way to live a new experience. An idea that as the kilometers went by grew larger and ended with over 60 people ".
The arrival in Rome was welcomed by the authorities and finally by the meeting with the Pope. Andrea told his story to the Pope showing the Katana crutch: "It was a unique experience that will remain in my heart. I thank all the people who have been with me and those who would have liked to be. The Pope's blessing to the whole group will allow us to better overcome our difficulties ".
Sport and social commitment will be the theme of the return home of this Paralympic athlete who now aims at qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 paralympics.
Good journey, Andrea!