Pilgrimage

The main Christian places of pilgrimage include Jerusalem and Bethlehem in the Holy Land, Rome in Italy; Lourdes in France; Santiago de Compostella in Spain; Knock in Ireland; Walsingham and Canterbury in England. In the days before cars, planes and other comfortable transport, a person of faith would have to walk or go by horse, and people who have done long pilgrimages to Santiago by foot, suggest that it is a wonderfully up lifting and spiritually worthwhile effort to walk the hundreds of kilometres necessary to gain the ‘compostella’ or certificate which confirms that the pilgrimage is completed.

There is also the concept of ‘walking in the shoes’ of the founder and many Christians view the idea of going where their founder Jesus went; to see the sights he saw, to feel the history and country in which he grew up, taught, died and was risen, to be an educationally and spiritually uplifting experience.

Christians of some denominations, for example Catholics, believe also that pilgrimages to historical places of interest such as the Vatican in Italy in order to see the Pope to be especially beneficial and a sign of devotion to the faith. Alongside this, Catholics also believe that God intervenes on behalf of his people through certain saints in order to be able not only to heal spiritual wounds that pilgrimage helps to cure, but also physical wounds and hurt. At Lourdes in France, many thousands of disabled people visit the grottos hoping for healings, and other similar sites can be found elsewhere.

Christians might also argue, that life itself is a pilgrimage and by doing good, being faithful and helping the world be a better place, then that is what God is wanting Christians to do. This is of course important, and there is no getting away from the fact that a real pilgrimage, with other pilgrims, helps a person understand their faith and helps them in their own spiritual journey.

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