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Walking on Holy Ground: A Pilgrimage on the Via Francigena and the Western Front, from London to Laon

By Nick Dunne


The Via Francigena is the ancient route from Canterbury to Rome – 1900 kms through the heart of Europe. For centuries pilgrims have been drawn to the many religious shrines along its way and now, in northern France, they come to pay their respects at the cemeteries and battlefields of the First and Second World Wars.

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£9.99

978-1-739619909

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In this personal account, Nick Dunne makes a walking pilgrimage along the Via Francigena and the Western Front from London through Belgium and France to the medieval city of Laon in Picardy.
On his journey, he encounters stories of courage, compassion and deep religious faith and discovers that walking in the footsteps of pilgrims is not just a journey but an inspiring historical and spiritual adventure.

From Comment
2024-01-03 Nicholas .... I enjoyed Nick Dunne’s Walking on Holy Ground ……no one has yet woven the Via Francigena and the battlefields of the two wars together so well.
Brian Mooney, Reuters journalist and author of A Long Way for a Pizza: On Foot to Rome
2024-01-03 Nicholas .... Nick Dunne is good at evoking the Christian past of the churches and shrines that punctuate his route (and) makes every effort to go inside and join with local people in the Christian present, even when he finds himself invited to take his turn in reading prayer sin his schoolboy French. The military aspect of his journey occupies much of his book, and Dunne draws extensively on his background knowledge and previous visits, making good use of individual witnesses. "The Western Front is a path that has defined the historical, psychological and, in many ways, the spiritual landscape of the 20th century." Its battle lines and cemeteries are clearly not a detour, but a part of this pilgrimage on holy ground.
Revd Philip Welsh writing in the Church Times, 6 April 2023
2023-02-22 Nicholas .... I liked it. Actually, I liked it a lot - much more than I would have anticipated. It wasn't what it said on the tin. I was expecting a kind of summary of a walking trip that recorded places, impressions, interactions, etc. But it was a history book, interweaving two - in fact several - different periods. The focus on WW1 was appropriate and excellently presented. It brought tears on more than one occasion. Weaving the religious and historical never allowed a weariness of tone or a feeling of repetition; indeed, it was like a great tartan, with sometimes muted colours neatly interwoven to produce a fascinating and colourful whole. And as someone who is not religious I didn't find it at all inaccessible. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone interested in World War 1, the Via Francigena, or just long distance walking.
George
2023-02-22 Nicholas .... “Walking on Holy Ground” is an engaging, touching journey through the present but inextricably linked to the past contextualising not just a physical journey but a journey through time. Intimate personal and individual experiences linked to the vast horror of the First World War bring into sharp reality the events and effects of those times. It is not a “Naked and the Dead”, “The Dead the Dying and the Damned” or “Birdsong” but it is a lovely, easy and enjoyable read that has been thoroughly researched. Yes, I really liked it. John M.

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