Dear EyeCycled friends,
it gives me great pleasure to announce to you all that next week I will start my 3rd Christian Pilgrimage by bike. It’s called “Caminho da Fé” which literally translated to English means “The Faith’s way”, but it is also sometimes translated as “The walk of faith”. This pilgrimage route is now considered to be the Brazilian equivalent of the way of St. James or Camino de Santiago, which I’ve done in 2015.
There is extensive material about the “Caminho da Fé” on the Internet, but in Portuguese only. I could not find much in English, so the English version of this post will be more detailed than it’s Portuguese one, so to give you guys more background information of what the pilgrimage is all about (most links on these page will open to English Language resources though).
Brazilians have been walking to the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida for generations. Many to fulfil religious promises (i.e. to obtain a cure for some illness or for other types of graces), others for cheer devotion. With 18,000 m2 (190,000 sq ft), the basilica is the 2nd largest catholic church in the world losing only to St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.
In 2003 a group of pilgrims who had walked to Santiago de Compostela a couple of times decided to create a pilgrimage route between Aguas da Prata in the Federal State of São Paulo and the Basilica, in Aparecida do Norte, 318 Km away on the designed route (walking paths). Currently, however, the route has many, so called, “branches” all of them starting from different cities, but passing through Aguas da Prata, on the original route designed in 2003. These, in turn, have also a few options which may increase or decrease the distance between the starting point and Aparecida do Norte. The branches are as follows:
|#||Branch||Distance in Km|
Option 1: Via the town of Pindamonhangaba
|Distance in Km
Option 2: Via the town of Guaratinguetá
|1||Aguaí to Aparecida||364||341|
|2||Aguas da Prata to Aparecida||318||295|
|3||Caconde to Aparecida||390||367|
|4||Mococa to Aparecida||408||385
|5||São Carlos to Aparecida||536||513|
|6||Sertãozinho to Aparecida||571||548
|7||Tambaú to Aparecida||424||401|
Source: AACF (Friends of the “Caminho” Association. Site in Portuguese only)
I’ve chosen the longest path, starting from Sertãozinho, not necessarily because I want to ride more (although this was one of the reasons), but because of logistics. There is a direct bus from my current whereabouts to Ribeirão Preto, a city only 20 Km from Sertãozinho, so I only need take 1 bus journey (of 12 h though) to get to my starting point.
My entire journey will start on the early hours of Sunday, the 18th of September, with the bus to Ribeirão Preto. From Ribeirão Preto to Sertãozinho there is a short distance of just over 20 Km, perfectly doable by bicycle, but I’ve been advised to avoid this track because it goes through some high crime areas between the 2 towns (in Brazil, unfortunately, this is a constant worry).
So, as I arrive in Ribeirão Preto I may take yet another bus journey, a short one though, to Sertãozinho, or, if I am feeling adventurous, ride my bike (generally speaking armed thieves steal the entire bike with everything on it, and on the rider… it would be a shame if my pilgrimage was to end before it could even begin though).
In Sertãozinho I will overnight in the Agapito Hotel, one of the few places where you can buy the pilgrim’s credentials, which, exactly like in the Way of Saint James, you will need to stamp along the way in order to obtain the certificate of completion as you arrive in the Basilica in Aparecida do Norte.