VIA CLARA from Groningen (NL) to Assisi (IT)

The Via Clara is a pilgrimage route that you can travel on foot or by bicycle. It is a tribute to St. Clare of Assisi, the first female abbess with a form of life approved by the Pope who followed the Gospel in poverty, chastity and obedience. She was the first follower of Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan order. Clara lived in the convent of San Damiano in Assisi (IT), where she lived a contemplative life with her sisters, the Clarists. The Via Clara connects Groningen (NL) with Assisi (IT), where Clara is buried in the Basilica of Santa Chiara. Along the way you will pass several churches, monasteries and spiritual and devout places. The Via Clara was offered in 2021 on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the Convent of St. Josephsberg in Megen (NL) and the 550th anniversary of their community.

Hurrying up, tackling issues, living in a world where everything must be economical, effective, efficient and there is no time to waste. So everybody is busy, busy, busy!  We need to produce, because that generates work and trade, so that money can roll because if money doesn’t roll, the economy stagnates. Free time is becoming more and more precious. Stress also increases, everything becomes more complicated and responsibilities increase. Clara’s pilgrimage route is a pilgrimage that can be used to set out on the road to a lighter existence.        

Actually, St. Clare of Assisi (1193-1253) fits our times very well. The Via Clara is a response to “pressure. Clara goes through life with quick step and light stride, thus creating tranquility as an answer to a busy existence. But yes, do you achieve peace with pilgrimage? It can be done by experiencing peace in nature. In this way you create a beautiful space within yourself and with quietness you can begin to experience this space, getting closer to yourself. This can be done, according to Clara, by recalibrating the basic level of survival, making adjustments in one’s own environment and taking a closer look at relationships to the outside world.
Quite a different approach from Clara, who left home at 18 and went on to live an extremely sober life dedicated to God. She found liberation in letting go of the material and was always concerned with the people around her and how they were doing. Even in Clara’s life, everything was busy and had to be done quickly, efficiently and effectively. That may sound stressful, but Clara radiated a calming light and wherever she went she spread her enthusiasm to whomever would receive it.

It is therefore so fitting in our time that everyone is cordially invited to walk Clara’s Pilgrim’s Way (or parts of it). The peace, the regularity, no telephone ringing, no internet, no text messages, no newspaper, no obligations, but the fixed regularity of prayer and/or meditation, the sober meals, the simple places to sleep, give a new order to one’s own existence, to one’s head and body. By pilgrimage, all our efforts do not add days to our lives, but with the right attitude we can add “life” to our days.

Pilgrimage simply means going on the path, and in doing so, the path itself is the goal. Step by step you can let go of everything and come to yourself. The heritage of St. Clare of Assisi helps us with this!

Peace, all the best and a blessed pilgrimage wished to you.