What is a Pilgrimage?

What is a Pilgrimage?


  1. is a journey
  2. often into an unknown or foreign place
  3. where a person goes in search of new or expanded meaning about their self, others, nature, or a higher good, through the experience. 
  4. It can lead to a personal transformation
  5. after which the pilgrim returns to their daily life.

Pilgrim Definition: 

  1. pilgrim is a traveler 
  2. (literally one who has come from afar) 
  3. On a journey to a holy place
  4. Typically, this is a physical journey (often on foot) 
  5. to some place of special significance to the adherent of a particular religious belief system
  6. In the spiritual literature of Christianity, the concept of pilgrim and pilgrimage may refer to the experience of life in the world(considered as a period of exile) or 
  7. to the inner path of the spiritual aspirant from a state of wretchedness to a state of beatitude.[1]

Christianity Pilgrimages:

  • Christian pilgrimage was first made to sites connected with the birth, life, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
  • The purpose of Christian pilgrimage was summarized by Pope Benedict XVI in this way:
    • To go on pilgrimage is not simply to visit a place to admire its treasures of nature, art or history. 
    • To go on pilgrimage really means to step out of ourselves in order to encounter God where he has revealed himself, where his grace has shone with particular splendour and produced rich fruits of conversion and holiness among those who believe. 
    • Above all, Christians go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, to the places associated with the Lord’s passion, death and resurrection. 
    • They go to Rome, the city of the martyrdom of Peter and Paul, 
    • and also to Compostela, which, associated with the memory of Saint James, has welcomed pilgrims from throughout the world who desire to strengthen their spirit with the Apostle’s witness of faith and love.[9]

Pilgrimages were, and are, also 

Distinguishing pilgrimage from tourism, according to Frank Fahey[6]
Faithalways contains “faith expectancy”not required
Penancesearch for wholenessnot required
Communityoften solitary, but should be open to alloften with friends and family, or a chosen interest group
Sacred spacesilence to create an internal sacred spacenot present
Ritualexternalizes the change withinnot present
Votive offeringleaving behind a part of oneself, letting go, in search of a better lifenot present; the travel is the good life
Celebration“victory over self”, celebrating to rememberdrinking to forget
Perseverancecommitment; “pilgrimage is never over”holidays soon end



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