The church of St. Thomas at Filefjell was one of Norway's most important pilgrimage sites in the Middle Ages, along with the Selje monastery and Røldal stave church. People came to St. Thomas Church with supernatural power from all over southern Norway with gifts to regain their health. Celtic spiritual tradition of the sanctifying of nature was a driving force in the Christianization of Valdres, and lived on here. The people of Valdres' concrete perception of paradise are hamlets and mountains. The stave church on Filefjell was torn down in 1808, but a new church was erected in 1971.
The work on the grand opening of the old pilgrim route in Valdres started in 2004 and from 2005 an eight-day pilgrimage has been held every year. The pilgrim road is 162 km long. The road goes through six new churches, five stave churches, four Olav memories, three stone churches, two reliquaries and a rune stone. Medieval pilgrims avoided mountains and forests if it was possible. They went from church to church where people lived and where they found food and shelter. Thus the new pilgrim route goes primarily in the valley.
The pilgrim road passes over the forests of Hedal Stave Church (1163) to Reinli Stave Church (1327). Furthermore, through Liagrenda to Sundvoll and Aurdal church (1737) and along old Valdresbanen to Leira and Fagernes. From there over Fodnesåsen to Ulnes church (1265) and on the west side of the river to Fossheim. Still on the west side of the river past Mo church ruin (1200s) to Einang bridge and Slidredomen (ca. 1200). To the runestone Einangssteinen and up the hill to Lomen stave church (1192) and Høre Stave (1179). Along Kongsvegen and on the north side of Vangsmjøsa to Øye stave church (about 1200). Finally, up Rødalen to Filefjell, by Gamlestøga up until St. Thomas Church (1971).
The Pilgrim road is marked with a special symbol and signs. The road is therefore a nice walk also for ordinary tourists. Want to join the Pilgrimage in Valdres? Contact www.valdresmusea.no
for registration and information.
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