Via Mater Dei connects Bologna to the most important Marian shrines of the Bolognese Apennines. The Cammino is about 140 km in length and can be travelled in six stages.
From Bologna, with its renowned Mediaeval walls and monuments, in a strenuous walk, you will recover a connection with the earth, the wind, the sun, the rain: seasonal and essential, real and metaphorical elements
of every true Cammino. Step by step everything will take on new contours,
because your outlook will also be new.
Father Marco Garuti and Father Massimo Vacchetti
Christianity inherited the concept of the pilgrimage from the people of Israel. Every good Israelite was required to stand before the Lord in His Sanctuary three times a year. “I was glad because they said to me: ‘We will
go to the house of the Lord’” (Ps. 122.1). Christian pilgrimages reached their peak in the Middle Ages as an expression of the same extraordinary religious fervour that generated striking cathedrals, masterpieces of art and faith. Jerusalem, Rome and Santiago de Compostela are the main destinations for Christians, but there is also flourishing interest in pilgrimages to Marian shrines or to sites that preserve the relics of saints. For many, the pilgrimage represented a kind of path assisting in the expiation of sins or the effort needed to be reborn a changed person.
The pilgrimage was and is a highly expressive practice in a Christian’s way of life. The dynamic of the journey begins by interrupting everyday life, leaving behind the past and turning to a destination that is one of “true” life. The Lord said to Abraham: “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land that I will show you” (Gen 12:1).
The person is conceived as a homo viator, a wayfarer who leaves a place and goes towards the attainment of a goal to which they turn their physical and spiritual strength, certain that God precedes them and lights the way. However, pilgrims do not leave the worries of life, the anxieties of the present and concern for the future in order to escape from themselves, but to seek and find something greater and truer than themselves.
In this perspective, the pilgrimage is a metaphor for life: a journey from time to eternity, from Earth to Heaven, from the ephemeral to the absolute. The underlying reason for the decision to set off is not so much a need to escape, but mainly to find the meaning of life, the desire for infinity, the face of God! “We took sweet counsel together, in the house of God we walked with the throng” (Ps 55:15). Even those who do not make the journey with a strictly religious intention will find themselves making a great journey into the depths of their hearts. When they reach a shrine, it is not so much the body as the soul that has finally arrived in the desired destination.