[Read about Jules Bourglay and K. Veerabadran, other notable walkers in Samantha Hunt’s series of non-fiction pieces.]

- - -

In 1969, Arthur Blessit heard Jesus Christ ask him to walk around the world, visiting every nation of every continent while carrying a twelve-foot-long cross. Blessit has been walking for thirty-three years. Blessit has even walked in Antarctica. He has visited the tiniest nations, the Vatican City and Sovereign Knights of Malta. He has crossed Africa and the United States on foot. He has climbed Mount Fuji (12,388 feet) and the Bronzal Pass, between Pakistan and Afghanistan (18,200 feet). He walked to the Dead Sea. He walked to Red Square. He walked to Orlando, Florida.

Blessit once carried his wooden cross to meet the world’s largest tree. The tree is in Mexico. It is 163-feet tall and 163-feet around. This tree is the largest, not the tallest.

At Blessit’s count his shoes last him approximately 500 miles, which means he has worn through 69.6 pairs of shoes since he began walking.

Blessit has walked through forty-nine nations at war. These wars cause problems for Blessit, not just because they are wars, but because wars often result in the creation of a new country, or, at least, an old country with a new name. Should Blessit walk Burma again now that it is Myanmar? Zaire now that it is the Democratic Republic of Congo? Did Jesus mean Arthur should double back and walk Kosovo, Croatia, and Serbia even though he once walked Yugoslavia?

The New York Times reported that Blessit almost gave up walking once in Liberia as he had been chased by someone who believed that he, Arthur Blessit, was Jesus Christ. This borrowed glory left Blessit in despair. He stopped momentarily. He’d never meant to steal Jesus’ flame. In Liberia, Blessit rested against a tree and considered calling it quits until, as Blessit tells it, Jesus again whispered in his ear, “Don’t worry about it. Just keep going down the road.”

Arthur Blessit kept walking and, eventually, he walked back home to Hollywood, California, where he was arrested. Blessit has been arrested for walking twenty-four times, all over the world.