VÍA CRUCIS FORMOSEÑO: PILGRIMAGE ROUTE BY BICYCLE
Vía Crucis Formoseño is a pilgrimage route in Formosa, Argentina. The 512km-long stretch used to be done only by car, until one local lady decided to give it a try on a bicycle. In year 2008, Celia Insaurralde convinced three of her friends to go with her and so began the story of the Cicloperegrinos – pilgrims on bicycles.
What is a Vía Crucis?
Vía Crucis or Way of the Cross, is a path done to commemorate Jesus Christ on the day of his crucifixion. It usually consists of 14 crosses, each cross depicting specific events of the Vía Dolorosa (the path Jesus is believed to walk on his way to Mount Calvary). The Vía Crucis is usually walked either individually or in a group, and it is commonly done during Lent. Its idea is to prepare Christians for Easter through prayers and a spiritual contemplation of the Passion of Christ, whilst repairing the sufferings of Jesus through a pilgrimage.
The longest Vía Crucis in the world
According to local sources, the Vía Crucis Formoseño is the longest Vía Crucis (Way of the Cross) in the world. It was founded by the first bishop of Formosa, Mons Raúl Marcelo Scozzina, in 1997, and it consists of 14 crosses along the Ruta Nacional no 81. The Viá Crucis Formoseño starts in the city of Formosa and ends at the border of the Province of Salta.
A few years back, the bicycle pilgrimage on the Vía Crucis Formoseño, was officially added to the ecclesiastical calendar. Nowadays, it is done annually by dozens of Cicloperegrinos a week before Easter. Some cyclists take part in the whole journey, while others join the group for smaller stretches along the way. The pace of the pilgrimage fits all, as the group always adapts to the slowest and weakest. Everyone helps each other out, and for those who simply cannot make it, there are plenty of cars around to carry their things.
What is the Vía Crucis Formoseño?
A memory of the pain and blood shed by the peoples in the area.
A memory of those who have died tragically along this path.
An engagement for those who want to make the world a place of justice, peace and love.
How I met Celia Insaurralde?
In Formosa, I was hosted by a man named César, friend of cyclist and social communication student Aylen. Celia is César’s friend, so when she heard I’m in town, she wanted to meet me. Although Celia has done many cycling trips alone (such as the Camino de Santiago of Viá de la Plata), she said it was inspiring for her to hear the stories of other female cyclists. As soon as she retires, she plans to go and travel the world by bicycle.
This Sunday, November 6th 2016, Celia and other Cicloperegrinos will go and cycle 55kms to the 2nd cross of the Vía Crucis Formoseño. I will go with them, join a mass, and continue my trip alone from there towards Tucumán. Sooner or later, I will post pictures from this stretch, so stay tuned!