Practical information for pilgrims

Mary’s Way suggests pilgrim`s ways which can be walked in any direction and in every part.

The Way will be marked with [ M+ ] signs, painted on a white background and which can be found on trees, rocks, information boards or posts. The marking of the Way is already in progress, and almost complete so that route directions can be obtained before starting the pilgrimage.

The marked way is also accessible by bicycle and horse, except for one short section (namely Ghymes Faget – Pipas). It is recommended to follow the route as closely as possible although in some places we may have to use our own judgment if a variation seems essential. Occasionally short-cuts or alternatives will be marked clearly. For assurance and safety a route certification and stamp each day (if possible) will be called for at the accommodation points, or other stopping places for example at the different shrines along the pilgrimage. The linked accommodation places are not all at the same level (e.g. 1, 2 or 3 star etc.), but information should be obtained by all pilgrims before starting the pilgrimage.

The color and the number of the [ M+ ] ways:

The markings along the Way may be different sometimes showing e.g. shorter secondary routes, other ways, with shapes (such as: square, triangle, cross or chapel) and colours. A key or legend will be found in this guide. At the larger intersections there will be information boards giving directions and distances. The marks can become damaged even with regular maintenance. This means that if a mark is lost it may be necessary to return to the last mark to check the correct route once again. Or using maps it may be necessary to try to reach the next village. These marks should always be visible except perhaps during the snow. It would be advisable for safety to start with the shorter sections or to join a larger organised group. With more experience this may not be necessary of course but care and commonsense must govern any decision to ‘go-it-alone’ especially if children or young people are involved. It should be clear that there can be dangers, and competent leaders are called for as the local conditions will vary. Enough time (and a little more – in hand) should be scheduled. This also applies to the pilgrim’s own personal resources and strengths. Good and ‘more than adequate’ equipment is advisable to allow for adverse weather conditions in some places. Changes of the appropriate clothing would be needed. Good hiking shoes to allow for ground conditions and a small emergency first aid kit would be a sensible precaution. A back pack of course is needed for essentials and should not weigh more than around 10 Kg. It is possible that in some places wild animals can be encountered during the pilgrimage. Examples are wolf, bear and very occasionally wild boar. However the biggest danger might be from shepherd dogs. Treat any such animals with due respect but avoid running from them if possible. Check daily for the tick which is still a nuisance in these parts. And always carry a ’clip’ for removing them safely. Such things should be available from Pilgrim ‘supply points’ along the route. In the event of more serious injuries, help can be requested on 112, (the international emergency number.)

Please respect the local people (the natives) who are usually very helpful; and also take care of the environment. Always be open to different customs and other people’s points of view. You know the English saying: “When in Rome do as the Romans do”. Building friendships with local people can be very rewarding for everyone. Making an effort to learn some local language for communication can reap great returns. But remember that ‘sign-language’ and ‘pidgin English’ are rarely helpful and in some cases can be rude or even insulting to others. But take heart; learning a “foreign” language is not a big deal. Many people in these parts can speak up to five languages. Even learning a little local history can help a great deal and can sometimes help to avoid making embarrassing mistakes. But don’t foist your new-found knowledge upon other people; remember it is far more diplomatic and productive to ask questions. Don’t become stressed or angry if you get lost or if things are not going as well as you had hoped. Try to accept changed circumstances as a trial from Mary. Local people are usually very helpful indeed and exchanging discussion about where you come from and what you are doing here often produces lasting friendships.

In the churches and holy places (especially the shrines) always be respectful and quiet and this is a good rule for the outside places too. However, when in the forests whistling and singing is a good way to avoid the attentions of wild animals.

One last precaution is that if we are travelling in a group, large or small, it is not a good thing to split up. Any group should stick together all the time unless some emergency arises and it is absolutely necessary to send someone for help. It is particularly important to impress this upon children of all ages in the group. Accepting that we should pay attention to these guidelines and rules, taking care of others and also of our selves accordingly, will in itself bring us closer to God and to His Mother Mary, keep us safe and help us to reach our objectives on our pilgrimage no matter the tribulations.

Our good wishes go out to every Pilgrim; have a pleasant trip and arrive safely to your Holy destination.

 

Suggested packing list: -

  • Hiking shoes, socks

  • Warm under-wear

  • Hiking trousers

  • Sweater

  • T-shirt(s)

  • Shirt (s)

  • Anorak

  • Raincoat

  • Light colored or sun hat

  • Warm hat

  • Swimming trunks

  • First-aid kit (including a tick clip)

  • Toilet bag for necessaries

  • Drinking cup (plastic)

  • Water-bottle

  • Knife, fork and spoon

  • Flashlight (torch)

  • Safety matches and lighter

  • Food

  • Documents:-

  • Passport

  • Pilgrim`s guide

  • Maps, compass

  • GPS (if available)

  • Mobile phone & charger

Cross-bicycle *

(Trekking, MTB)

 

*In later descriptions more details will be given about the accessibility of roads by bicycle, etc.

 

The six ways of Harghita County:

In County Harghita there are six alternative routes for Mary’s Way

The final point in an Easterly direction on Mary`s way is Sumuleu (Csiksomlyo - pronounced: “Shomyo” in English) and its famous and ancient shrine of Our Lady. This Holy place lies on a hill just outside the town of Miercurea Ciuc (Csikszereda – pronounced Cheek-sered-aw in English) and it means ‘Wednesday-Market”. There are six alternative routes all leading to Shomyo and covering over five hundred kilometres, and there is a selection of books describing this beautiful region including some of the Counties close by. Mary’s Way in County Harghita is special not just because it is the final and most easterly point but also because in many places Mary’s Way here is tougher and a little more dangerous to follow. It is as if Mary is trying to test you and your determination to succeed in your quest to reach her. At the feast of Pentecost many thousands of people from all over Europe assemble in Shomyo to give praise and petition to Mary. Shomyo has been known to hold over half a million people on that Pilgrimage Mountain. It is a wonderful sight at that time and it happens every year. It is a very reassuring event for all Christians especially when we have to face the harsh realities of our modern lives and the evils and hedonism we are constantly surrounded with these days. This new focus for Mary’s Way is to bring pilgrims from all over Transylvania (Székelyföld - pronounced: ‘See-kay-ferld’ in English).

It is quite easy to distinguish the alternative routes shown on the maps. They have clear colours and numbers to guide you, and of course you can select any of the well-marked junction points to begin your own pilgrimage to suit your own programme and timetable.

Here is an index of the different routes in outline: -

  1. M05 red [from Romania] TârguMureş- MiercureaCiuc (Şumuleu) – Ghimeş

  2. M01 purple [from Austria] Mariazell – Budapest – Máriapocs - ClujNapoca – TârguMureş – MiercureaCiuc (Şumuleu)

  3. M03 purple [from Austria] Mariazell – [Romania] Arad – Alba Iulia – Sighişoara – MiercureaCiuc (Şumuleu)

  4. M12 blue [from Romania] Braşov – Sfântu Gheorghe – MiercureaCiuc( Şumuleu) – IzvorulMureşului–VatraDornei

  5. M28 yellow [from Romania] Cosnea – MiercureaCiuc( Şumuleu) – TârguSecuiesc – Sfântu Gheorghe

  6. M29 green [Romania] Micloşoara – Sântimbru – SântimbruBăi – Jigodin – MiercureaCiuc (Şumuleu)

    1. The application of the book

It is important to be aware of the factors which can influence the distance a pilgrim can walk in a day and these are: the roads, the weather, the landscape or terrain, and a pilgrim’s own individual energy level. This is why we have mentioned shorter routes in the little index above and to suggest them in the pilgrim`s guide, by paying attention to the factors mentioned. We have made a unified description which includes both spiritual and tourist interests about the different sections of Mary’s Way-s which we hope will suit everyone. We pay more attention to the descriptions and the maps because of the variations in the natural countryside, and also to assure the security of pilgrims. You are encouraged to read these descriptions in detail before starting your pilgrimage, and please compare the kilometre totals given in the Guidebook with your maps. The descriptions have been written from the border of the county to Shomyo in descending order of km. The timings given have been calculated at a walking speed of 3 km/hour.

The edited section of the Guide was completed by the end of 2013 so that the descriptions given in the Description book follow an already settled route. However environmental change is, of course, constant as with other factors and so we would invite your ‘feedback’ any time to help our volunteer team which is monitoring variations and taking steps constantly to update such details including accommodation.

It is important for us to continue to improve the Guide to help pilgrims to have a better spiritual experience, and by especially taking care not to disturb the owners of the lands which are crossed on Mary’s Way. Similarly we must pay attention to both security and the matter of intensive traffic. If the traffic is too intensive, we may have to alter the route a little. The Association of the way of Mary must insist on its right and obligation to change the way in these circumstances. Updated information about alterations will be given regularly on our webpage or by telephone as soon as it is available. The list of accommodation, programs and events, does change all the time. If there is a problem with accommodation, information will be available from the local priest, from local government offices, and even from shopkeepers in the local grocery stores.

If you need to get in touch with the local contact person by phone or email, the contact details can be found on the webpage of Mary’s Way (www.mariaut.ro). You should have your GPS map or the relevant local map, available with you for the place you would like to reach.

We ask all pilgrims to maintain contact with us via the webpage, to get updated information and help. There is a non-stop reception service in the Hotel Salvator and in the Antal Jakab Education Center in Shomyo, in front of the Kegytemplom( Pilgrimage church in Shomyo).