George Walter cut a different picture — wind blowing through his long, white beard, staff in hand — as he walked by himself down Plymouth Street on Thursday morning.
He wasn’t alone, he said. His best friend is always with him.
The 62-year-old Pittsburgh native said he is “walking for Jesus.” He describes himself as a “career student of Christ.”
With a walking stick cut from a tree at Mount Carmel and topped with a Cross of Saint Francis, a portrait of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus around his neck and all his earthly possessions strapped to his back, Walter has logged about 30,000 miles in 30 years. He has visited more than 40 countries including China, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Spain and the Holy Land.
At 9 a.m. Monday, he was spotted in downtown Wooster. He is bound for Chicago to visit a priest friend and give a speech to seminary students.
A Roman Catholic, Walter spent 12 years in a Cincinnati seminary.
Walter’s first walk was from Barcelona, Spain to Jerusalem. He usually returns home to Pittsburgh to sit out the winters.
He said his inspiration was a statement attributed to Christ that men should leave their families and countries, take up the cross and follow him.
He said he urges people to look into encountering God in silence, solitude and prayer.
He said he makes a point of visiting religious shrines along his route and is looking forward to visiting one in Libertyville, north of Chicago.