Bobbio Pilgrimage

Today I left Rome, caught a train north through Bologna to Piacenza, where I caught a bus for the 45 km trip up the Trebbia Valley to the town of Bobbio.  This is where St Columban is buried.  He is the patron of the Missionary Society of St Columban to which I belong.  Hence my interest in visiting his grave.

One of the mottoes of his generation of Irish monks was Peregrinare pro Christo (Pilgrim for Christ).  He certainly did this with his life.  Leaving Ireland, working in places that are now located in Germany, France and Switzerland, knowing rejection and exile, finally coming to Bobbio where he died in 615.  So next year is his 1400th anniversary, which I hope we celebrate in a meaningful way.  St Columban and his followers were among those who brought the faith back to continental Europe and contributed to a renaissance not just in church life but also in learning and culture.
A contemporary Columban Priest standing in front of the tomb of St Columban, in the Crypt of the Basilica of St Columban, Bobbio, Italy.
You might say it was foreordained! Behind me are three stained-glass windows.  The central one is St Columban.  The one to the left, hidden behind the pillar, is St Patrick; the one to the right, partly hidden by the pillar, is St Benedict.  My full name is Patrick Joseph Benedict, so all that is missing is St Joseph.
A view of the interior of the Basilica of St Columban.
Like Assisi, Bobbio too is a lovely town with a medieval feel.  Narrow, winding, one-way streets, some reserved for pedestrians only. Clean and tidy.  Three to four storey stone buildings on either side, making a labyrinth of alleyways.  Bobbio seems more austere than Assisi, perhaps because it is further north, slightly colder, in a valley surrounded by hills rather than on the hilltop, more remote.  It is, of course, older than Assisi.  Still, I found it charming.  
Evening falling on the front facade of the Basilica of St Columban.
Tomorrow, to Milan and on to Spain!

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