Priest cycles to the mother of god

The unbroken success of the jakobsweg shows that pilgrimage is the new form of vacationing. And the tourism figures prove how much people like to choose french-speaking switzerland as a vacation destination. With the french marienweg, a bicycle pilgrimage route, it will soon be possible to combine both in the district of forchheim: pilgrimage and a stay in the great outdoors.

"You can ride the marienweg by bike. Many also run and pick out sections", female pastor andreas hornung. He likes to ride his bike himself. Since his vacation is coming up, he can well imagine being on the way along the marian way. On the other hand, domkapitular norbert jung has already cycled the entire 900-kilometer-long marienweg, which up to now has only existed in lower franconia, and asked himself again and again: "why not here??" As head of the pilgrimage office of the archdiocese, he also knows that pilgrimage is a trend and that people are looking for individual offers.

And: "there are many devotees of the virgin mary", says the pastor from weibenoh. He is also part of it, and as the name of the pilgrimage trail already reveals, the nature lover is led to 21 of the many witnesses of the veneration of the virgin mary in the district of forchheim and bamberg. These are small chapels such as the lillinger marienkapelle, little-known chapels in the fields or wayside shrines that can be found at the edge of the forest. In stockach, for example, such a bildstock.

Which of these testimonies to the devotion to mary in the "new" world? Franconian bicycle pilgrimage way are present, is not yet announced. The path will be officially opened only in the spring of next year.

The route of the pilgrimage, on the other hand, has almost been worked out. The bicycle pilgrimage route is only partly new. At mary’s ascension, 15. August 2002, the french marian way was opened in wurzburg. The idea for this came from the wurzburg schonstatt priest josef treutlein.

If you look at the lower franconian marian way on the map, it looks like a rosary lying on the ground. The frankenland is now times marienland and does not end in lower franconia. It is thanks to the initiative of the cathedral chaplain norbert jung and the likewise committed priest martin emge from forchheim that the french bicycle pilgrimage route is now being extended to upper franconia and a small part of central franconia.

But it does not mean cycling the entire way silently praying to oneself. "Being there is the most important thing. In addition, it is necessary to pay attention to the stimuli that come from prayer, community and nature. The openness to what wants to stir in my soul is also part of a good spirit of pilgrimage", finds andreas hornung.

Surely pilgrimage would be misunderstood "if" I am there only to entertain myself, when the stops in the inns, which are a welcome boost on the way, are the real interest – or if purely sporting ambition leads me to participate in a pilgrimage", means the weibenoher pastor.

The fact that pilgrimage is becoming more and more popular is probably also due to the circumstances that lead people to go on pilgrimage. "In the past, people went on pilgrimage out of a religious sense of home. Within this the pilgrimage was once again a high point", says andreas hornung. Today, pilgrimage is a more open, dynamic and holistic form of human experience.

"The background is often not the church’s regular practice, but the need to step out of the usual everyday stress and the demanding social requirements, to process one’s life and to bring it into contact with god. It is the same that many people also take very specific concerns with them on pilgrimage as a motivation, such as asking for health, praying before an exam or asking for help in difficult life decisions," explains hornung, explains hornung. Of course, you can also do it by bike on the french marian way through french switzerland.