Bonnevaux: On the Way to Compostela

Leonardo Leonardo

The Community’s new home will be a ‘centre of peace for peace’. It looks ahead. But it is also rooted in an ancient sacred tradition. Bonnevaux is on one of the four ancient routes from Paris to Santiago de Compostela, the ‘Via Turonensis’, or the Way of Tours. The Pilgrimage to Santiago, the Shrine of St James the Apostle, was made as early as the 10th century. But by the end of the 12th century, it was the major Christian pilgrimage after Jerusalem. It is easy to imagine Bonnevaux, founded as a Benedictine monastery in 1119, as a stopover for pilgrims. To have a safe place where they could sleep, eat and pray and maybe get some medical help. The pilgrims would have come from nearby Poitiers, where they prayed at the church of Notre Dame Grande of Poitiers, received the pilgrim’s blessing and a stamp in their pilgrims’ passport. The day before they would have been in Châttelerault, where you can still visit find the ancient statue of a blissful-looking St James. Then they would follow the road to Melle and most likely prayed in the beautiful 4th century church of St Hilaire. Future pilgrims to Bonnevaux will be able to visit these sacred sites and also walk part of the Camino de Compostela.

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