15 YEARS AGO: HOLY MAN WALKED ACROSS CALHOUN - Pilgrim George's Footprints Have Now Covered 41,000 Miles



"A pilgrim is at home everywhere, and nowhere is his home,"
said Pilgrim George, as he walked through Calhoun

By Bob Weaver

By happenstance we encountered Pilgrim George in 2009, walking across Calhoun County.

After decades of "walking for the Lord," the rugged, soft-spoken and unassuming man has put his staff and homemade sandals away, after walking 40,000 miles around the globe.

Tens of thousands of people have met the holy man, to be moved by his spiritual presence and conversation, including myself.

He is reportedly now living in a monastery in Pittsburgh, retired from his walking life.

By Bob Weaver - 2009

He was an apparition on the Calhoun landscape, a Moses-looking man walking down US 33-119 at Millstone in 2009, wearing his long patchwork robe on a hot summer day and his sandals made of tire tread, held together by bolts and wire.

We stopped to inquire of his presence to discover Pilgrim George.

The humble, soft-spoken man has been on walking pilgrimages over three decades, traveling over 40,000 miles, literally walking around the world.

He doesn't carry money in his three sacks, simply water, dried fruit, nuts and a tent. He doesn't want worldly belongings, but does accept the generosity of people be meets along the highway.

Pilgrim George's staff was carved by the cave of the prophet Elijah on Mount Carmel, and has been to holy places - Nazareth, Bethlehem and Calvary.

Pilgrim George shares faded photos of early pilgrimages
to Mexico (left) and meeting Pope John Paul II in 1996 (right)

The Holy Man said three people had stopped to inquire of his presence in Calhoun, and one bought him a soda at Arnoldsburg.

"I stayed last night in Spencer. People who pass by often want a photograph and a little visit," he said.

The 69-year-old George Walters says his steps are those of faith, and his purpose is in lifting the name of Jesus as he walks along the highways of the world.

He dropped from studying to be a priest, saying "There was something missing. I had knowledge, but I lacked faith."

On his walking pilgrimage while in America's Rocky Mountains, he said "I discovered why I'm here on earth, that I am God's creation, a part of the magnificent."

"Being a child of God became real," he said.

We drove to the Sand Ridge church to spend a little time, telling him the story about the Polings building the round church, "so the devil could find no place to hide."

This year's walk is taking him from Pittsburgh to Alabama and back.

His quiet, unassuming and soft spoken manner was an awesome presence, difficult to describe.

After our visit at Sand Ridge, I drove him down US 33 to the Bear Fork Wilderness, letting him out of the car to walk into the woods.

He turned and said, "Never forget, you are a child of God."

Internet websites say people who have encountered Pilgrim George have a sense that it was ordained by God.

In 1958 he walked to Guadalupe, Mexico with a mule, and later walked to the Holy Land, with a a few lifts across water. In 1996, he met the late Pope John Paul II.

A Holy-land pilgrimage

He said "My first pilgrimage was in 1970 when I walked from Barcelona Spain to Jerusalem. I've been in 41 countries and walked over 39,000 miles."

When asked about the most trying times on his journeys, he said one time he was stoned in Israel and was struck over the head from behind by a mentally-ill youth in California.

Pilgrim George leaves footprints on the land that he traverses, but also on the hearts of people along the way.

"Being a child of God became real" - Pilgrim George/Sand Ridge Church