Pilgrims carry stones, sorrow on Day 7 of Notre Dame Trail

Published: Aug. 20, 2017 at 5:48 PM EDT
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Despite the inherent jubilance of the anniversary celebration, pilgrims on the Notre Dame Trail walk for sorrow.

Participants of the Notre Dame Trail have eclipsed the 200-mile mark of the 320-mile journey. The 32 pilgrims are walking and biking the path the founder of the University, Father Edward Sorin, C.S.C., took from Vincennes to St. Joseph County 175 years ago. On Sunday, they contemplated the theme, “sorrow.”

“I’ll start with my own experience because I am going through some pain in my feet already, but I think it’s going to be a very wonderful day of reflection for this day of the pilgrimage,” said Rev. David Eliaona, C.S.C.

Each pilgrim carries a stone, or multiple stones, to signify a prayer intention – an ill relative, world peace, safety on a trip, or a virtue, such as increased patience. Dr. Timothy Huddle, a Notre Dame alum, is carrying multiple “stones” that bear great emotional and spiritual weight.

“I’ve had to experience a lot of sorrow in the last year. Last year, my dad passed away at 94. My mother-in-law passed away from breast cancer,” said Huddle.

Recently, his brother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and is undergoing treatment. Bill, he said, is the main reason he participated in the Notre Dame Trail.

“You look at the circumstances that have been put in front of you, and you respond in a way that’s going to make you feel better and the people involved feel better,” added Huddle.

He indicated bearing the crosses of others isn’t as heavy as one might think.

“Quite the contrary: it lightens my burden because I know I am doing something special or extraordinary for the intentions that we’re trying to achieve,” the doctor explained.

Traditionally, people taking part in the Camino de Santiago (“the Way of St. James”), a pilgrimage in Spain, carry stones. The University of Notre Dame adopted the custom for the Trail. Pilgrims will place their stones in a garden located near the Log Cabin on campus.


for more information about the Notre Dame Trail.