Tracing an ancient pilgrimage route from Canterbury to Rome, the bestselling and "virtuosic" (The Wall Street Journal) writer explores the past and future of Christianity
"What a wondrous work! This beautifully written and totally clear-eyed account of his pilgrimage will have you wondering whether we should all embark on such a journey, either of the body, the soul or, as in Egan's case, both." --Cokie Roberts
Moved by his mother's death and his Irish Catholic family's complicated history with the church, Timothy Egan decided to follow in the footsteps of centuries of seekers to force a reckoning with his own beliefs. He embarked on a thousand-mile pilgrimage through the theological cradle of Christianity, exploring one of the biggest stories of our time: the collapse of religion in the world that it created. Egan sets out along the Via Francigena, once the major medieval trail leading the devout to Rome, and makes his way overland via the alpine peaks and small mountain towns of France, Switzerland and Italy. The goal: walking to St. Peter's Square, in hopes of meeting the galvanizing pope who is struggling to hold together the church through the worst crisis in half a millennium.
Making his way through a landscape laced with some of the most important shrines to the faith, Egan finds a modern Canterbury Tale in the chapel where Queen Bertha introduced Christianity to pagan Britain; parses the supernatural in a French town built on miracles; and journeys to the oldest abbey in the Western world, founded in 515 and home to continuous prayer over the 1,500 years that have followed. He is accompanied by a quirky cast of fellow pilgrims and by some of the towering figures of the faith--Joan of Arc, Henry VIII, Martin Luther.
A thrilling journey, a family story, and a revealing history, A Pilgrimage to Eternity looks for our future in its search for God.
About the Author
Timothy Egan is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and the author of eight other books, most recently The Immortal Irishman, a New York Times bestseller. His book on the Dust Bowl, The Worst Hard Time, won a National Book Award for nonfiction. His account of photographer Edward Curtis, Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher, won the Carnegie Medal for nonfiction. He writes a biweekly opinion column for The New York Times.
Praise for A Pilgrimage to Eternity:
"From the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner, a pilgrimage to find religion—or truth, or the way—that pleasingly blends memoir, travelogue, and history. ...Finding people and places warm and welcoming in each village and city, allowing himself to be amazed, lingering to rest blistered feet, and discovering soul-stirring spots--all this kept Egan pushing on, and readers will be thankful for his determination. A joy and a privilege to read." —Kirkus (starred)
"What a wondrous work! Somehow Egan has pulled together what seems like the entire history of Christianity, the scenes and succulents of much of Europe and his own personal story into an engrossing narrative. This beautifully written and totally clear-eyed account of his pilgrimage from Canterbury to Rome will have you wondering whether we should all embark on such a journey, either of the body, the soul or, as in Egan’s case, both." —Cokie Roberts
“A Pilgrimage to Eternity is one of Egan’s best books, a moving combination of history and memoir, travelogue and soul-searching, buoyed by Egan’s strengths as a writer: color and humor, a sense of wonder and a gift for getting to the point." —Seattle Times
“The question of what a pilgrimage means in the modern day loops throughout Timothy Egan’s A Pilgrimage to Eternity...Egan’s historical chops are on show throughout his journey."—America
Praise for Timothy Egan:
"Egan has a gift for sweeping narrative . . . and he has a journalist's eye for the telltale detail . . . This is masterly work." —The New York Times Book Review
"Few writers have the Pulitzer Prize–winning Egan's gift for transforming history lessons into the stuff of riveting page-turners." —Entertainment Weekly