• A Pilgrimage to Eternity

  • From Canterbury to Rome in Search of a Faith
  • By: Timothy Egan
  • Narrated by: Timothy Egan
  • Length: 12 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Europe
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (339 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

From "the world's greatest tour guide," a deeply researched, captivating journey through the rich history of Christianity and the winding paths of the French and Italian countryside that will feed mind, body, and soul (New York Times).

"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 case, both." (Cokie Roberts)

"Egan draws us in, making us feel frozen in the snow-covered Alps, joyful in valleys of trees with low-hanging fruit, skeptical of the relics of embalmed saints and hopeful for the healing of his encrusted toes, so worn and weathered from their walk." (The Washington Post)

Moved by his mother's death and his Irish Catholic family's complicated history with the church, Timothy Egan decided to follow in the footsteps of centuries of seekers to force a reckoning with his own beliefs. He embarked on a thousand-mile pilgrimage through the theological cradle of Christianity to explore the religion in the world that it created. Egan sets out along the Via Francigena, once the major medieval trail leading the devout to Rome, and travels overland via the alpine peaks and small mountain towns of France, Switzerland, and Italy, accompanied by a quirky cast of fellow pilgrims and by some of the towering figures of the faith - Joan of Arc, Henry VIII, Martin Luther. The goal: walking to St. Peter's Square, in hopes of meeting the galvanizing pope who is struggling to hold together the church through the worst crisis in half a millennium.

A thrilling journey, a family story, and a revealing history, A Pilgrimage to Eternity looks for our future in its search for God.

©2019 Timothy Egan (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

One of Oprah's Must-Read Books of Fall 2019

“A glorious, laugh-out-loud, wipe-away-tears, blister-riddled, often rain-soaked, sometimes bone-chilled, desolate and desperate, quietly triumphant walk through church history - every last footfall in search of an elusive modern-day spiritual certitude.... Egan aimed high, and he reached it.” (The Chicago Tribune

“One of Egan’s best books, a moving combination of history and memoir, travelogue and soul-searching, buoyed by Egan’s strengths as a writer: color and humor, a sense of wonder and a gift for getting to the point." (Seattle Times

“If this book doesn’t quite settle the question of belief for you, it will at least fortify your faith in scrupulous reporting and captivating storytelling.... Egan is so well informed, he starts to seem like the world’s greatest tour guide.... Reading it, you feel yourself in the presence of goodness - the kind you might simply have to decide to believe in.” (The New York Times

What listeners say about A Pilgrimage to Eternity

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A Beautiful & Refreshing Perspective on Faith

This was a truly beautiful book, both in his poetic descriptions of the lands he journeys through, and in his authentic thoughts on the Christian faith. I love people like Timothy Egan, who see the beauty and value of religion, and yet are also honest about its pitfalls and mistakes.

Some favorite quotes from this book:
"All religion is informed by myth, as are most cultural bonds, from Ulysses to Game of Thrones. 'Mythology is not a lie,' said Joseph Campbell. 'Mythology is poetry, it's metaphysical. It has been well said that mythology is the penultimate truth - penultimate because the ultimate cannot be put into words.'"

“Until atheism can tell a story, it will always have trouble packing a house.”

7 people found this helpful

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Adventures while in quarantine! ❤️

So I’ve basically been on the same journey but while still working and reading books like these to help me find my way. The picture he paints around every corner made me want to jump on a plane and take the pilgrimaged myself. But like I said-I’m doing that from the USA in my headphones. Wonderful insight to the atrocities of Christianity while holding tight that those were never the reaches of Jesus. Didn’t want it to end.

6 people found this helpful

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Get a good reader!

I love to hear Egan talk... off the cuff, but you BLEW a good story trying to read it yourself! Stick to writing, that’s your skill.

2 people found this helpful

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A Pilgrimage to Eternity

What an excellent book! I am so glad that I listened to this on audible, I felt I was able to feel like I was walking along with the author. I too , like the author, have a questioned my Catholic beginnings. What an amazing pilgrimage to experience. Unfortunately, I do not believe that I will ever be able to do the pilgrimage the way Mr. Egan did, but I truly felt I was going along with him. I have been to Rome and have seen many of the sites that the author talked about. Thank you for such an enlightening and historic experience!

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An excellent book, well read, by the author

What a wonderful book, even for us agnostics. From NYTimes columnist Timothy Egan. Full of interesting history, geography, and deep spirituality.

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Another reading treasure!

Tim Egan reading his own pilgrimage is delightful. Thank you so very much, Mr Egan.

4 people found this helpful

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Egan fan

I’m a huge Egan fan. Read all his books. This was ok. I learned a lot about Catholicism. His journey was very personal and hard to draw me in. Good stuff but didn’t draw me in like other books by him.

6 people found this helpful

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Excellent story of a pilgrimage

As a many times pilgrim myself I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The mixture of history and personal experience is ideal.

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anti Catholic

I ended up not finishing this book because too many if the comments were against the Catholic Church. However, the story was interesting, the description of his pilgrimage was good and I enjoyed hearing about the cathedrals and such. But since many of his views goes counter to my faith, as I said. I stop listening.

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Good but not my favorite Egan

I’m a big Tim Egan fan, so I grabbed A Pilgrimage to Eternity shortly after it was released. It was good. It displayed again how great a writer he is. But I found I had a hard time connecting with it. It needed more candor or revelation about his spiritual journey. It just wasn’t inward enough. Probably hard for someone whose life has been chronicling the lives of others. I’m looking forward still to his next book.

2 people found this helpful

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  • David Schutz
  • 05-29-20

More about him than the VF

The performance is good (read by the author himself so is authentic) and well written. This is the story of a man’s search for faith rather than a description of the Via Francigena. Those well versed in history and with an historian’s sense of detachment will find his popular, journalistic approach to history frustrating, as he reviews and judges 2000 years of European and ecclesiastical history from the righteous peak of the 21st century’s latest version of the Modern Moral Order. He is convinced that Pope Francis is the first pope to appreciate science, and that all was darkness until Francis brought the light. But still, he has an open heart and an open mind and the VF has an effect on him by the time he reaches Rome.