A 29-year-old woman from Spain is walking 4,000 miles across Europe on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
Carlota Valenzuela began her journey in January at Cape Finisterre in northern Spain, a point which the ancient Romans considered “the end of the world.”
Her goal is to reach the Holy Land by Christmas after trekking on foot across 12 countries with only a backpack and her deep faith in God.
“It was something that I felt in a very clear and a very obvious way that God was calling me to do a walking pilgrimage to Jerusalem,” Valenzuela told EWTN News Nightly from Rome on May 25.
“Before this day, there was a period of around six months in which I kept feeling the fact that God was calling me for something bigger,” she added.
Currently in Rome, Valenzuela is at about the halfway point of her pilgrimage. During her trip, she has made stops at many historic Catholic churches and shrines, including the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes and the Monastery of St. Joseph in Cotignac in France.
For Valenzuela, the highlight of her pilgrimage so far has been “the encounters along the way.”
“My way of doing this pilgrimage is literally knocking on people’s doors to ask them to host me, so the fact that I am in a position of need is helping me to see the best of humanity. I’m having a daily lesson of generosity,” she said.
Valenzuela added that she loves talking with people she meets about the faith and praying together.
The 29-year-old has also been filming and sharing aspects of her journey with a growing audience on social media via her Instagram account, @finisterreajerusalen, which already has more than 13,000 followers.
Her posts often show the natural beauty of the paths where she is walking with a voiceover of her reciting a prayer or reading a poem.
Valenzuela describes her pilgrimage so far as “a process of abandonment,” surrendering to God everything that is outside of her control.
“I feel that He is in charge, that this is not up to me, it’s up to Him. I’ve never felt that kind of loneliness, although I’ve never been alone for so long in my life,” she told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner.
“My prayer has been changing a lot and I am learning little by little to contemplate, to see the landscapes and contemplate the work of God in the things I see, in the song of the birds, in how the leaves move with the wind, in the landscapes,” she said.
Valenzuela said that her parents were quite worried when she first told them of her plans to walk across a continent alone.
She left behind her job, friends, and family to make the pilgrimage. But even at the halfway point in her journey, she already feels like she is not the same person who set out from Spain in January.
She said: “I would invite people to have the courage to search a little inside, to ask themselves: what has God put inside of me?”
“And on that path of discovery, when they begin to glimpse which way to go, then they should set out on the road. For you only have one life, even if that sounds very cliché. You only have one life and there is only one opportunity to reach its fullness.”
Valenzuela will head off from Rome on the next leg of her journey at the beginning of June, on her 30th birthday. Her next stops include Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, and Greece.
Once she arrives in Jerusalem, she hopes to tell God “what I have been telling him since I started: that I am here, so that he may do his will in me.”