new paths to discover this summer!

new paths to discover this summer!

The paths of the Ardennes saints were born! A first loop of 200 kilometers, starting from Poix-Terron, allows you to walk in the footsteps of Saint Walfroy, evangelist of this region. And others will follow…

Saint Walfroy the Stylite (born around 565 and died around 600) is the apostle of the Ardennes, and many pilgrims still go to Mount Saint-Walfroy (or hermitage of Saint-Walfroy) where the sanctuary dedicated to him is located. Following the same model as the pilgrimage routes that have emerged in several regions of France, a small team had the idea of ​​creating an itinerary to pay homage to this saint and to discover the Ardennes territory.

The genesis of the project

A new path is often born from the passion of a person who wishes to share their enthusiasm for their region and for the saints who left their mark there. This is the case for the Ardennes paths, the idea of ​​which was born from Marie-Ange Turquais, a woman involved in the Sedan-Yvois missionary space. “In order to compensate for the absence of masses in our region,” she explains, “a small group of Christians meets at one or another’s home every two weeks to learn a passage from the Gospel. In the summer of 2023, to experience a more concrete fraternity and to recite the passages learned while walking, we began the path to Assisi. It was on this road that the idea of ​​creating Ardennes pilgrimage routes was born. »

But the crisis of the Church in the countryside and the desire to find other ways to respond to the thirst for spirituality of our contemporaries is not the only motivation for this project. “We also wanted to encourage beautiful encounters,” adds Marie-Ange Turquais, “to promote our spiritual heritage, but also what brings hope in our rural environment of the diagonal of emptiness.”

From idea to field

The Chemins des saints ardennais association was born in December 2023 with, as its first mission, drawing up a route. “As we wanted to avoid tarmac roads as much as possible, we favored forest paths,” explains Fabrice Blocteur, who organized the reconnaissance of the paths. We therefore contacted the owners of private forests to obtain permission to pass. » Civil and ecclesial institutions were also contacted and immediately encouraged this project.

The path describes a 200 kilometer loop, with slight differences in altitude which make it accessible to most walkers. Departing from Poix-Terron, it passes through Saint-Aignan, Raucourt, Saint-Walfroy, Beaumont, Stonne. The sanctuary of Saint Walfroy, at an altitude of 350 meters, is the highlight of this route. It is on this hill, in fact, that the hermitage and the relics of the evangelizer of the Ardennes are located. Among the other important elements of the religious heritage of this path are the Elan abbey, the Mouzon abbey church, the Mont-Dieu chartreuse and the Cassine convent.

For those who do not have the opportunity to complete this entire route (i.e. a dozen stages), the path is subdivided into two loops of around a hundred kilometers, which also bear the name of local saints: Saint Roger d’Élan and Saint Géry d’Yvois.

Directions, accommodation

To avoid the inconvenience of marking, the project initiators preferred to use an application, OD Guide, developed by a small company in Charleville-Mézières, which allows you to geolocate. Pins mark notices on religious heritage, accommodation and places of supply. A website is also under construction. Furthermore, a credencial, where the pilgrim will have a stamp affixed at each stage, is already available; There is also a prayer, specially composed for this path.

After the itinerary, accommodation is the pilgrim’s second concern. “We found simple and accessible pilgrim shelters in local homes, as well as a few community halls,” explains Valérie, the association’s treasurer. “The pilgrim shelters are mostly Christian and ready to open and show visitors the church in their village. On the other hand, supplies sometimes have to be planned ahead, because you can walk for three or four days without finding any shops: you have to ask the people who host you to provide a meal and, possibly, a picnic for the next day.”

A launch on June 27

For the creators of this path, the big day has finally arrived! On Thursday June 27, in Mouzon, the members of the association presented this route which allows you to discover the religious and natural heritage of the Ardennes in the footsteps of local saints.

And then? The small team plans to bring this path to life by organizing meetings between hosts, and relays between local pilgrims to check the itinerary. “But we are not going to stop there!” specifies Chantal Colin, the vice-president. We will put our experience at the service of those who would like to create loops in other missionary spaces in the Ardennes. The means (site, app, credentials, flyers) will be common, but it seems important to us to have local teams for each route. We hope to open one or two new paths each year, depending on the involvement of the Christians of the diocese.”

In the Ardennes, word of mouth has started to work: four groups of pilgrims have already expressed their intention to take the Saint Walfroy loop this summer. As for the initiators of this project, they are preparing to continue their journey on the road to Assisi, which was the crucible of this great achievement. “And we will double our number of pilgrims, from seven to fourteen,” adds Marie-Ange. No doubt: this is an initiative on which the Spirit breathes!

To know more

To see the detailed route on the OD Guide app, scan the QR Code:

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