On Tuesday the 4th August, I was watching the news when suddenly the announcement “breaking news” from Beirut appeared on the screen. A huge explosion had destroyed most of the harbour and districts around it. I was shocked and horrified. Nowadays we are constantly bombarded by terrible images. But this one stayed in my mind and it was rekindled by a Zoom meeting with a Beirut family. I was petrified by their description. No hospitals, no homes, no schools in a country already torn apart by previous wars, the current pandemic and a gigantic financial crisis. At that moment I thought I had to do something.
With my friend Maurizio Seveso, we planned to raise some money for those families. Being both London Blue Badge Tourist Guides and Christians, we decided to relive the medieval pilgrimage experience from London to Canterbury immortalised by the great poet Geoffrey Chaucer in his famous work “The Canterbury Tales.”
Maurizio Seveso, The Dean of Southwark Cathedral, Maurizio Patti. Photo Credit: © Maurizio Patti.
We started on the 19th of September and finished 5 days later. In those days we covered about 150km (90 miles). It was very moving to be blessed by the Dean Andrew Nunn of Southwark Cathedral at the beginning of our pilgrimage and by Canon Andrew Dodd in Canterbury Cathedral at the end. Their hospitality and welcome have been touchingly memorable.
The weather was fantastic and we could admire the beauty of the glorious Kentish landscape. The North Downs embraced us in all their colours from dawn to dusk (immortalised by Maurizio Seveso, a skilled photographer). History was never far away – from Rochester’s amazing cathedral to the silence of the peaceful Aylesford Priory.
During the walk, we had been praying for Beirut victims but also for all our friends, our fellow guides and their families in this so harshly struck Covid time.
We would like to thank all of you for your support. So far, we have collected more than £5,000, and further donations are welcome until the 31st of October. The initiative has been accompanied by several “encounters” on Zoom with Beirut.