Grand St-Bernard Pass is a gateway between Switzerland and Italy that has been used by travellers for thousands of years. But at an altitude of 2473 m (8114 ft) the weather can be very unpredictable, as I discovered last Saturday! I travelled up to the Pass to attend a ‘Compagnons de la Via Francigena’ celebration. It has been 20 years since work commenced on alpine segments used by pilgrims. Their hard work has made it possible for Via Francigena pilgrims to make the journey from Canterbury to Rome.
Last Saturday, a Swiss group walked from Bourg St-Pierre, in the blizzard-like conditions, to Grand St-Bernard Pass Hospice to meet the Italian group who had walked from San Rhémy. There was great excitement as the two groups met, followed by exuberant speeches in the magnificent Chapel, and a communal meal.
The Hospice has cared for travellers ever since it was established by St Bernard in 1050. The hospitality today is just as amazing. Somehow they managed to cater for our large group, a big parish group, a wedding and many pilgrims. And then, there were the famous St Bernard dogs walking the Alps and in their kennels in the Museum.
See my article on Via Francigena official website.