Travel and Hotel Information
As a chapter, we are not coordinating group travel or hotel rooms. Instead each pilgrim that wants to walk in our group will be responsible for booking their own flight and making their own hotel arrangements before and after the pilgrimage. Any pilgrim that would like to walk with our chapter will just meet up with us at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris the morning the pilgrimage starts. We welcome any and all that want to participate in the 2014 pilgrimage.
Photo courtesy of MightyTravels.com
The Chartres Cathedral has many distinct features including its historic and beautiful stained glass windows. Of the 176 windows of the cathedral, the majority were originally completed between 1200 and 1235. The picture (courtesy Medievalart.org) you see is from Panel 11 – Four Angels bearing columns supporting the throne of wisdom. For more information on the stained glass of the Chartres Cathedral check out the great feature below from ChartresCathedral.net
The Notre-Dame to Chartres Pilgrimage
This is a pilgrimage which has an ancient origin in France since at least the Middle Ages. Chartres Cathedral was the home of one of the greatest relics of Catholicism, that of the Veil of the Blessed Virgin Mary which had come to Constantinople from Jerusalem and then the Empress Irene presented it to the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne whose descendent Charles the Bald brought it to Chartres Cathedral.
Today we walk the 105 km to Chartres starting out at Notre-Dame Cathedral on the Saturday before Pentecost Sunday and finish on Monday in Chartres for a Tridentine High Mass in the cathedral. We are accompanied by Christians from all over the world on this long and hard, but spiritually uplifting walk. It is an opportunity for reflection, penance and spiritual growth, not to mention the making of many friends from all over the world.
What is a Pilgrimage?
From time immemorial people have journeyed to find answers to the spiritual meaning of their lives; thus, a pilgrimage is a type of journey, a traveling of one place or mindset to another. For the ancients it was the pilgrimage to Delphi; in the Middle Ages the big pilgrimages were to the Holy Land, Santiago de Compostela in Spain or to Chartres Cathedral in France. All mankind is on a journey of some sort, one that begins at birth.
So a Pilgrimage is a journey and for the Christian it has even greater meaning since it reminds us that our home is not here on earth in the mortal realm, but in the eternal realm of the beatific Vision of the Blessed Trinity. It is a realm that the very essence of our being longs for with an insatiable appetite. An appetite that can’t be satisfied until it possesses the most intimate lover… God himself for eternity.
We see a glimpse of this pilgrimage when we walk down the aisle at the Holy Mass to receive the Eucharist. We journey to church, leaving the comfort of our home, and then the church pew to embrace and receive God. And unlike when we consume ordinary food where it becomes elevated into our being , when we receive the Eucharist we are elevated to become divinized and like God.(Provided we are properly disposed and cooperate with God’s Grace)
From the first centuries pilgrims traveled to the Holy Land and other sites where God manifested His power in some special way whether through a miracle, saint or the actual places walked by Christ. It was a form of Piety especially popular in the Middle Ages which often involved great hardship and sacrifice much like our Savior whose own pilgrimage began at birth and ended at Calvary, or only seemed to end at Calvary… for the Christian sees hope beyond the toils of this life by Christ’s resurrection. The journey is complete when Christ ascends into heaven where we hope to follow to embrace our heavenly family… Home.
Thus, the Pilgrimage is a means to grow in Holiness which really means growing closer to the Blessed Trinity, becoming Christ-like. It is penitential since without the Cross there is no holiness. To embrace the cross is to embrace Christ, they are inseparable. We sacrifice and travel with others on a like mission to find a deeper meaning of Christ in our lives that we may be transfigured into a more Christ-like person.
What is the Order of Malta?
The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta .
The Order of Malta is one of the oldest institutions of Western and Christian civilization and is one of the few Orders created in the Middle Ages and still active today. It is also the only one that is at the same time religious and sovereign. This is due to the fact that most of the other Orders of chivalry lacked the hospitaller function which characterises the Order of Malta, so they disappeared as soon as the military purposes that represented the reasons for their existence ceased.
Present in Palestine in around 1050, it is a lay religious Order, traditionally of military, chivalrous, noble nature. Its 13,500 members include Professed Friars and others who have made the promise of obedience. The other Knights and Dames are lay members, devoted to the exercise of Christian virtue and charity. What distinguishes the Knights and Dames of Malta is their commitment to reaching their spiritual perfection within the Church and to expending their energies serving the poor and the sick.
The Order of Malta remains true to its inspiring principles, summarized in the motto “Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum”, nurturing, witnessing and protecting the Faith and assistance to the poor and the suffering, which become reality through the voluntary work carried out by Dames and Knights in humanitarian assistance and medical and social activities. Today the Order carries out these activities in over 120 countries.
The Pilgrimage to Chartres covers approximately 70 miles spread over three days. Those 70 miles add up to a lot of wear and tear on your feet and legs. This article from Outdoorgearlab.com “walks” you through a guide to purchasing shoes that will hold up and more importantly keep your feet protected and comfortable over long distance hikes:
When it comes to choosing the best shoe for your outdoor adventures, it’s important to be critical about your uses and decide what style of shoe compliments your needs best. Do you travel with light loads in decent weather? Maybe all you need is a trail running shoe. We typically break shoes down into four categories (from lightest to heaviest): trail runners, hiking shoes, hiking boots, and mountaineering boots.
Trail running shoes
Although trail running shoes are built for exactly that, they can fit a nice niche of hikers. If you do not need a very supportive shoe to handle heavier pack weights or like moving fast with ultra light gear, trail running shoes could fit your needs. They only come low cut, have soft rubber soles but with thick tread for gripping the trail, an EVA cushion midsole, and a breathable mesh or nylon upper. Very occasionally do these come with waterproof options, but most of the time they do not. They are more sensitive and agile than traditional boots.
Best uses: ultra-light backpacking, day hikes, rock hopping
Hiking shoes find common ground between full cut hiking boots and trail running shoes. They are lighter than boots, but sturdier and more supportive than running shoes. Usually they come with a waterproof option and a non-waterproof option. They are usually low cut, though some shoes have a tiny bit of ankle support, but never as high as with a backpacking boot. They come usually with burly Vibram soles with a lightweight upper. Like running shoes, they are comfortable right out of the box and do not require any break-in time.
Best Use: moderate backpacking, long distance lightweight hikes, day hikes.
Hiking boots range on a spectrum of light hikers to backpacking boots, and the weight varies considerably along this spectrum. What mainly classifies a “boot” is a cut that reaches up on the ankle, a hard rubber sole, and the fact they are usually waterproof. A traditional backpacking boot has a higher cut above the ankle than a light hiker, and is usually constructed with a full leather upper. A light hiker might have parts of mesh or lighter textile on the upper, but typically still protects the ankle.
Best Use: backpacking with heavy loads, hiking particularly rough terrain, hiking through snow where kicking steps might be necessary.
With full shanks, very stiff soles, and a high cut that usually also includes a gaiter, these are the heavy-hitters in the world of boots. Mountaineering boots are also insulated and have hard plastic inserts along the heel and sometimes on the toe to accommodate crampon bales. Though the weight and stiffness of these boots is overkill most of the time, these features are vital to mountaineers and ice climbers who spend their time traveling in snow and need the option of strapping on a crampon.
Best Use: extreme hiking through snow, mountaineering, ice climbing.
After choosing which category fits your needs, there are a few important decisions to consider.
We all know a shoe poorly fit to your foot shape is a recipe for disaster in the backcountry, with discomfort being the best case scenario and infectious blisters and frostbite being on the bad end of the spectrum. We try to give you the best assessment possible for each shoe regarding the cut and fit, but this is a category that you need to decide yourself. Check out your local outfitter and try on as many shoes as you can that fit your requirements — see where the shoe breaks on your foot, how the heel fits, and how much room you have in the toe box.
It’s important to try on shoes with the footbed and socks you will be wearing in the backcountry. Some modern footbeds have a very high stack height which will drastically affect the shoe’s fit.
If you are in a rainy climate and expect to wear your hiking shoes to work, it’s an obvious choice. For a casual user, a Gore-tex membrane is going to provide great waterproofing without many drawbacks. However, long-distance hikers often prefer non-waterproof shoes because when they (inevitably) get wet, they dry quicker, and drain well. While Gore-tex and other membranes are becoming better every year in terms of breathability, they are still miles behind open mesh panels such as those found in the Merrell Moab Ventilator. If you will be in the snow often, the Gore-tex option is generally the right call.
The old mantra of long distance hiking states, “It requires five times as much energy to move weight on your feet as it does to move weight on your back.” Ask any PCT or AT hiker and they will attest to this. Going from a two-pound pair of shoes to a four-pound pair of shoes is equivalent to adding 10 pounds to your pack. With folks being as weight conscious as cutting toothbrushes in half, it would be silly to hit the trail with shoes that add virtual weight equal to hundreds of half-toothbrushes.
At Outdoor Gear Lab we generally advocate lighter gear because it can allow you to move faster and freer on your adventures. We have found that this also applies to footwear. Though heavy boots can sometimes have their purpose, the light weight of a shoe is preferable 90 percent of time.