Here I Walk

A Thousand Miles on Foot to Rome with Martin Luther

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A Thousand-Mile Pilgrimage with Martin Luther

In 2010, Andrew Wilson and his wife, Sarah, walked in the footsteps of Martin Luther, re-creating his famous pre-Reformation pilgrimage from Erfurt to Rome. Their trek was well publicized, with coverage in the Christian Century, First Things, the Wall Street Journal, and Books & Culture. They were also interviewed by travel expert Rick Steves on his popular radio program. As they walked their journey of a thousand miles over seventy days, thousands of readers followed along on the Wilsons' blog.

This engaging narrative brings readers along as Andrew and Sarah traverse Europe, visiting sites such as Coburg Castle, Ulm's Münster, the Alps, Milan, Florence, and Rome. Their journey provides a unique window into the history of the Protestant Reformation and a creative entryway into the life of Luther. The book also reflects on the contemporary ecumenical significance of the events of the Reformation, exploring what the changes of the past 500 years mean for the Christian present and future.

Beautifully written and enjoyable to read, Here I Walk offers a unique combination of firsthand travel narrative, fascinating explorations in history, and theological and spiritual reflection. Pictures, maps, and an afterword by Sarah Hinlicky Wilson are included.

The wrong city--Etzlaub's map--Strasbourg station--Luther's metaphysically ambiguous cell--Arnstadt--the longest day--rusting Iron Curtain--mighty fortresses
Fourteen Holy Helpers--thunderstorm on Staffelberg--a cross and a skull--some thoughts on saints--Bamberg--water for wanderers--Nuremberg and its clock
Earthly vocations--Neuendettelsau--the limits of the Roman Empire--Oettingen with beer, Bach, and Brotzeit--crossing a crater--Nördlingen--Neresheim Abbey
Ulm and the spire Luther didn't see--a jar of interconfessional honey--Memmingen--wars of religion-- Genhoffen's mysterious chapel--into Austria with inadequate footgear
Bregenz--little Liechtenstein--fortress Switzerland--some thoughts on translation--rescued--church and charnel house--Bivio's religious rivalries--snow
Into Italy--at home in Chiavenna--chestnut groves beneath the Alps--Como, lake and city--sidewalks end--unfashionable in Milan
Augustine's mortal remains--the priest of Santa Cristina--the mayor of Orio Litta--ferry across the Po--Piacenza--over the Apennines--scatological issues--marble
Lucca--new wine in old Tuscany--Florence through Luther's eyes--souvenirs of San Gimignano--Siena's architecture of salvation--up with Dante, down with Luther
A soupçon of volcanic ash--fellow pilgrims--fortunati!--the Papal States--Lake Bolsena--a real Roman road--Etruscan caves--the good life with Mary Jane
Many Romes--St. Peter's--one thousand miles--St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls--celebratory supper--necropolis--Reformation Day--Scala Sancta--Luther and Rome, then and now
Epilogue: Wittenberg
From the Other Pair of Feet
Sarah Hinlicky Wilson
A Recipe from the Road: Pilgrims' Vegetable Stew


"A richly descriptive and beguiling journey. On Luther's walking trail to Rome, past and present collide and shower the reader with sparks of local color and empathetic reflections on religion, pilgrimage, nature, daily life, and the people who lived it--how they have changed after five centuries and what has endured. Highly recommended."

Scott Hendrix, author of Martin Luther: Visionary Reformer

"Here I Walk (my nominee for wittiest book title of the year) is charming, passionate, and blessedly resistant to cliché. In a season crowded with books about Martin Luther, the Reformation, and the legacy of Protestantism, make room on your shelf for this winsome travelogue."

John Wilson, editor, Books & Culture

"I hope many readers will share the treat of Andrew and Sarah's pilgrimage along Luther's 1511 route to Rome. The chronicle charms by telling of nature's surviving outposts and by recounting fascinating persons, those perfect strangers who generously solve the trek's inevitable problems. The pilgrims felt Catholic devotional piety from close up and deftly relate Protestant dedication to quotidian but godly work. In evenhanded telling prompted by myriad signs and marks strewn across Europe, Reformation history and theology repeatedly break into the narrative. It's a long walk to join with delight, a book to savor."

Jared Wicks, SJ, professor emeritus, Gregorian University, Rome

"'Protestant pilgrimage' is not an oxymoron but lies at the heart of the reforming gospel, simply because it is central to the gospel itself. Wilson's beautiful account of tracing on foot Luther's early journey from Erfurt to Rome uncovers this evangelical truth: Christians may traverse the world fed only by Christ's grace. He opens a window onto Luther's own deep conversion and the spiritual and ethical gifts of trust, neighbor-love, and joy that it gave. This remarkable book weaves together past and present, theology and history, human encounter and affection. Wilson shows how Luther's world, so different from our own in some ways, is exactly the same in its grace-filled ordering by God. Written with gentle wisdom, Here I Walk will renew and deepen the faith of every reader."

Ephraim Radner, professor of historical theology, Wycliffe College, University of Toronto

The Author

  1. Andrew L. Wilson

    Andrew L. Wilson

    Andrew L. Wilson (PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary) is a traveler, author, and scholar who has spoken and written on a wide variety of subjects, from Bartolomé de las Cases to hiking shoes. Thousands of readers followed his seventy-day, thousand-mile...

    Continue reading about Andrew L. Wilson


"A fondness for hiking, paired with a scholarly interest in Martin Luther, gave the author an idea. To commemorate the 500th anniversary of Luther's pre-Reformation pilgrimage to Rome, he and his wife would retrace the route themselves. . . . Here I Walk takes readers through the sights and insights that the Wilsons encountered during their travels."

Matt Reynolds,

Christianity Today

"An engaging narrative that easily flows from mundane details (including the travails of a camper toilet) to abstract theological reflection. It integrates the physical and the spiritual, medieval and modern, Catholic and Lutheran. It is evocative, poetic, and even quite funny at times. It is a fitting tribute to Luther's life and theology. . . . Although informed by Wilson's knowledge of history and theology, the book is not scholarly or academic. It would serve as an engaging text for an undergraduate course on the Reformation or a book discussion in a Lutheran or Catholic congregation. It raises questions about the purpose of pilgrimage, the nature of religious devotion, the possibility of ecumenical consensus, and the complications of modern life."

Sherry Jordon,

Lutheran Quarterly

"Reading Wilson's evocative account of his pilgrimage, the reader becomes a companion on the journey. That 'companionability' is one of the appealing aspects of the book. . . . The book has great appeal as a travelogue, since Wilson describes people and places with a kind of poetic intensity. . . . As he describes the unfolding landscape, Wilson also inserts pertinent insights into Luther's thought. Readers will be captivated by the many ecclesiastical and ecumenical conversations along the way. . . . While the landscape has vastly changed in the last five centuries, Wilson admirably highlights what remains of the places Luther must have, or might have, seen. He offers imaginative pictures for us. . . . Discussion groups and adult classes might profitably read, discuss, and learn much by taking the journey."

Robert Brusic,

Word and World