Hundreds of miles separate two of the most popular Christian pilgrimage sites in the world: Rome and Spain's Santiago de Compostela.
In Santiago, it's common to do a pilgrimage on foot. But this Spanish police officer, who lives in Rome, decided to take on the journey from one country to another-on bicycle.
"I have different motivations. To start off, it's a way to honor my late grandparents who lived in Santiago. Also, this year marks 800 years since St. Francis of Assisi traveled to Santiago de Compostela.”
Just before taking off, thieves stole everything. But the Spanish police officer still took off on July 14th. Once he completes the 2200 mile journey, he is hoping he will arrive to his destination on August 5th. It won't be easy, but thankfully, he will have company.
MARIO DE SÁRRAGA
"So it will be roughly 2,200 miles in three weeks, so it's like going throughout all of Spain, or like a Tour de France or a journey through Italy. Basically, I'm going to be his nanny for 24 hours, because I don't think people realize just how hard it is to be on a bicycle for 21 days and carry out this kind of journey.”
He decided to do things his own way, so he will steer away from the pilgrimage just a bit, to visit sanctuaries in Assisi, Pilar and Santo Domingo de la Calzada.
"I got married last October in the Vatican's Santa Ana church. The priest who confessed me, recommended I start reading some of St. Augustine's work. So I decided to add Pavia to the journey, because that's where he is buried. Then I will also pay homage to St. Francis to mark 800 years since he finished his own journey. Then, there's the Patroness of Asturias-Our Lady of Covadonga and Santiago-Spain's Patron Saint.”
It will be a journey that will be special for two main reasons. First, he will accomplish a spiritual goal he's had for quite some time and lastly, it will mark an end to his three years in Rome, where he worked in Spain's Embassy to the Holy See.