Chin-Yu from Taiwan/Trondheim: pilgrim for life

Chin-Yu visited Scandinavia for the first time in 1998 as a backpacker from Taiwan. Trondheim was her first city in Norway, arriving by train from Östersund. Now she’s been living in Trondheim for more than sixteen years. She decided to dedicate her first full pilgrimage to St. Olav, to show her gratitude and love for Scandinavia.

“Living in Trondheim, St. Olav is all around: my son was born in the St. Olav Hospital and baptized in the Nidaros Cathedral. I also attend the yearly Olavsfest (earlier known as Olavsfestdagene) as often as I can. I pass the Nidaros Cathedral almost daily and have seen it from all different angles.

I grew up in a religious family in Taiwan. I joined my parents for countless services and gatherings in my childhood. I consider myself a spiritual person, even though I am not a Christian. For me it doesn’t matter which god you believe in, as long you believe in something bigger than yourself and know to be humble and grateful for whatever life has to offer.

Just as I have always felt connected to Europe, my sister is deeply connected to Japan. She walked the entire Henro in Shikoku in 2009 and started to promote the route in Taiwan afterwards. I joined her for the section in Tokushima in the spring of 2017. Since then my interest for pilgrimages grew. I wanted to walk one for myself and St. Olavsleden was THE ONE, without a doubt. I really enjoy my life in Trondheim and feel like ‘a fish in the water’ here. Walking the route is my way to express gratitude.

Walking six hundred kilometres mostly alone and through isolated places was definitely out of my comfort zone. I was so determined, but yet so unsure. ‘What if I get lost? What if I get blisters or get injured? What if…’ Well, there was only one way to find out. In the end of June I took the train to Sundsvall and walked all the way home.

Everything turned out just fine. I enjoyed my own company and the company of others (two visiting friends from Trondheim and one co-walker from the Netherlands). I enjoyed the surrounding nature in all forms – forest, meadows, streams, lakes, waterfalls and even muddy mires. I met a lot of friendly people along the way and was well taken care of by the pilgrim hosts. I learned to entertain myself on monotonic motorways. Often I felt that I was having the best time of my life. Shoulder pain and sore feet disappeared. My body and mind reached beautiful harmony towards the end. Ok, I haven’t been able to embrace the mosquitoes yet, but I learned to accept they were part of the whole package.

After St. Olavsleden, the term ‘walking distance’ means something more to me. I have already started looking forward to more hiking. On the Olsok day of July 29th, after spending my night in the Nidaros Cathedral for Olavsvaka, I got my first tattoo done: the sign of the St. Olav Ways! The first full pilgrimage is like the first marathon: it is something special. This tattoo is a souvenir as well as a statement: I am a pilgrim for life.

When I visited the Nidaros Cathedral one day, I discovered the Chapel of Gratitude. ‘We thank life for its mystery and diversity.’ As a pilgrim, I fully understand.

Thank you, St. Olav. I know I am blessed.”

Chin-Yu on Facebook.