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A Pilgrimage to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search of a Faith

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  100 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Tracing an ancient pilgrimage route from Canterbury to Rome, the bestselling and "virtuosic" (The Wall Street Journal) writer explores the past and future of Christianity

"What a wondrous work! This beautifully written and totally clear-eyed account of his pilgrimage will have you wondering whether we should all embark on such a journey, either of the body, the soul or, as in Egan's c(The
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published October 15th 2019 by Viking
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Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, nonfiction
(Note: I received an ARC of this work courtesy of NetGalley)

“A Pilgrimage to Eternity” has the core essentials for great travel writing - a journey through a region or well-worn trail unfamiliar to most of the intended reader audience, with every stop on the way bringing a wealth of information and insight on every waypoint’s particular history and present condition.

However, although his trip’s focus is supposed to be a deep look into Christianity past, present and possible future,
Joseph J.
Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those of a religious bent and those seeking meaning; fans of travel
Won in a Goodreads giveaway-with much gratitude. Timothy Egan was born of my generation into a family probably more Catholic than mine (my paternal grandmother was a New York Egan). Now like many of us he is disillusioned with-angry at-the church he was raised in without question. His family touched by the clergy abuse scandal, we journey along with him in a quest for reconciliation and discovery-and rediscovery-along the ancient Christian pilgrim's route, the Via Francigena. His trek through la ...more
Julie Stielstra
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A devout, engaged, educated Irish Catholic woman has given up all her ambitions to stay home and raise a brood of seven. Active in the church her whole life, she lies on her deathbed from a brain tumor, and quietly says to her son: "I'm not feeling it, Timmy... I'm not sure anymore...I don't know what to believe or what's ahead..." It reminded me of my grandmother at the funeral of my grandfather (lifelong staunch Dutch Reformed, both of them) when they closed the lid of the casket. She sobbed a ...more
Oct 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing

Thanks, Goodreads, for a great giveaway!
I found Timothy Egan’s account of his journey along the Via Francigena enlightening. He provides a wealth of information along his thousand-mile trek through the ‘Cradle of Christianity’ - offering historic context surrounding the abbeys, shrines, and all manner of religious architecture. Egan’s journey was a personal one tied to his struggles and questions of faith, which is set amidst a backdrop of the decline of religion in this region of Europe –
Jan Stone
Nov 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Not just a spiritual journey, but a travelogue and journey through history, as well. I was aware of the Camino in Spain, but not of one in France. Don't pass this up.
Oct 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting mix of history, philosophy, and travelogue.
Joy Matteson
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This could have been another ho-hum religious travel memoir, of which there are many, except for Egan's marvelously irreverent and thoughtful religious and socio-political commentary raising it a notch above most in this genre. Egan takes the Via Francigena, the ancient pilgrim route from Canterbury to Rome, to ask the difficult questions in life: Is there a God? Is there a God who cares? What about human suffering? What about the abuses in the Catholic Church? Egan is a life-long lapsed Irish C ...more
Linda Bond
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Persons of faith, seekers and those simply interested in Christianity will appreciate Timothy Egan’s foray into the history of this 2000-year-old path to God. In order to learn what he can about the past, the present and the possible future of this particular religion, he takes on a 1000-mile journey of his own, walking to Rome and St. Peter’s Square, touching on remarkable places as he travels, while highlighting the contributions of outstanding individuals like Martin Luther and Joan of Arc. T ...more
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A Pilgrimage to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search of a Faith by Timothy Egan is a very highly recommended spiritual, historical, and physical travelogue.

Timothy Egan was raised Catholic but has experienced over time a lapse of faith and disillusionment with the Church, especially after the sexual abuse scandal. Egan has decided that, "It’s time to force the issue, to decide what I believe or admit what I don’t." He embarks on a pilgrimage, visiting historical sites along th
...more Biography & Memoir
Whether read as a travelogue, history or personal spiritual quest, A PILGRIMAGE TO ETERNITY will enlighten and entertain its audience.

Timothy Egan’s journey along the Via Francigena, the ancient pilgrim route from Canterbury to Rome, takes us across several countries and multiple centuries, all the while engaging us in a debate about God’s existence and purpose --- and quoting liberally from St. Augustine, Diderot, Oscar Wilde and many others. The wealth of information and insight on
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Part memoir, part travelogue, part history of the Catholic church, this book follows the author's pilgrimage along the Via Francigena as he searches for meaning in his faith and looks for a future in the beleaguered Catholic Church in the western world. I really enjoyed this book. It was well written with great descriptions of the places that the author stayed along the way, the food he ate (especially in Italy!!) and the people he met. The best parts were the little nuggets of church history th ...more
Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019, religion, travel
I enjoyed Egan's descriptions of the route itself, both the towns that he passed through and the natural beauty through which the Via passes. On the religious or theological levels though, I was disappointed in Egan's approach. He is not merely a skeptic, but is outright antagonistic to many elements of the Church that he considers, dismissing them in advance rather than giving them a fair hearing. The reasons for his attitude do become clear over the course of the book, and his reflections at t ...more
Doug Knopp
Nov 11, 2019 rated it liked it
I have read several of Egan's books and enjoyed them all. This one was quite different, by design, but less satisfying to me than the others. Egan was raised a religious Catholic and has that as a foundation, but has grown away from religion over the years. He has the opportunity to take a pilgrimage from Canterbury UK to Rome on the Via Francigena, which he did mostly solo. Another potential title for this book might be "Reflections on Religion on a road to Rome". It is densely packed with Chri ...more
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Timothy Egan did an excellent job of relaying centuries of information in a way that is both didactic and enjoyable. Eagan’s search resonates with so many of us today. Faith, religion, belief are topics many are uncomfortable with but contemplate. The author takes on his journey, “pilgrimage”, from Canterbury, England to Rome, the Vatican. The Via Francigena originated in the year 990. The reader is invited to follow along as the author searches for answers to his faith questions. This is a inte ...more
Kathleen Gray
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing combination of travel writing and history. Many are familiar with the religious pilgrimages through Spain and France but I, for one, did not know the Via Francigena, which goes from Canterbury to St Peters Square. The detailing of that walk alone would have made for a great read but Egan goes a step further and explores the changes in Christianity over many years. I don't quite know how to capture what he's done except to say that this is incredibly educational- I found myself ...more
Jan Kingsley
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Anticipated this book and I was not disappointed. Egan’s journey as travel writing provides tantalizing details about various locations along the way, as well as the history of these places, mostly of a religious nature as befits the inner journey he was also on. Both treks are interesting and timely for people of a certain age looking at the present, the world’s past, and their own past. Key religious people, saints, popes, martyrs play a role. It’s a journey in search of truth and Egan’s concl ...more
Linda Gaines
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I just loved this book. I've read all of Egan's books, I think. This one was wonderfully written as I thought I was right there as he traveled that road. The discoveries of religion's past were many. His personal story made the pilgrimage very important. I'm glad his son, daughter and wife were able to join him for part of it. I culmination of walking ( and riding) was the visit to Pope Francis and an awareness of A FAITH.
Oct 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is almost a five--definitely 4.5. I love Timothy Egan and have loved all of his books that I have read. This one was quite personal and full of fabulous quotes that made it to my notebook. It was a terrific arm chair traveler book for me as well as an interesting exploration of many Catholic saints, and a very thoughtful exploration of a man searching for what he believes. Thank you, Timothy Egan.
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm so happy I got this ARC because it talks about the "Via Franchigena", a travel that always fascinated me and I want to try sometime in the future.
I liked the style of writing, the humour and the mix of historical facts, curiosity and travelogue.
It's a great read, highly recommended!
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a powerful journey for anyone who is curious about the difference between religion and spirituality. Even though Egan is a lapsed Catholic, his insights will illuminate anyone’s perceptions about life’s fundamental meaning.
Pam Mooney
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An epic journey - I enjoyed so much. I loved the history, pilgrims, and stories of faith. So well written that I could picture the shrines and people and wanted to go there myself. A great book to keep on the shelf - so buy two so you have one for a friend. A good read.
Nov 03, 2019 rated it liked it
This book had too much gruesome detail about the horrors of the early church for me. I was looking for something that would increase my faith but this wasn’t it. It has a lot of historical detail and would be great for history buffs.
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved the writing and the history but . . . .visting beautiful places that seemed mostly to inspire a recitation of all the horrors Christians have visited on Jews, Muslims, and their fellow Christians does not make folks, in Chaucer's immortal words, "longen . . . to goon on pilgrimages."
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book first because spiritual travel/memoir is a favorite genre, and for the overview of Religious/World History presented in an easy to follow and engaging style, and because Egan's writing is excellent, as usual. He's near the top of my list of nonfiction writers.
Nov 05, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: unreadable
If you enjoy bashing the Catholic Church, then this book is for you.
Jessica Howard
Oct 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really liked this. Part travelogue, part history of the Catholic Church and the Reformation, part Egan's own spiritual journey.
Randy Tsuda
rated it really liked it
Nov 07, 2019
Elizabeth Marshall
rated it it was amazing
Oct 28, 2019
rated it it was amazing
Oct 22, 2019
rated it really liked it
Oct 18, 2019
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Timothy Egan is a Pulitzer Prize winning author of nine books, including THE WORST HARD TIME, which won the National Book Award. His latest book, A PILGRIMAGE TO ETERNITY, is a personal story, a journey over an ancient trail, and a history of Christianity. He also writes a biweekly opinion column for The New York Times. HIs book on the photographer Edward Curtis, SHORT NIGHTS OF THE SHADOW CATCHER ...more