Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Christianity & Pilgrimage

Pilgrimages were first made to sites connected with the life, birth and crucifixion of Jesus. Surviving descriptions of Christian pilgrimages to the Holy Land date from the 4th century, when pilgrimage was encouraged by church fathers like Saint Jerome. Pilgrimages also began to be made to Rome and other sites associated with the Apostles, Saints and Christian martyrs, as well as to places where there have been alleged apparitions of the Virgin Mary.

The second largest single pilgrimage in the history of Christendom was to the Funeral of Pope John Paul II after his death on April 2, 2005. An estimated four million people travelled to Vatican City, in addition to the almost three million people already living in Rome, to see the body of Pope John Paul II lie in state.

World Youth Day is a major Catholic Pilgrimage, specifically for people aged 16-35. It is held internationally every 2-3 years. In 2005, young Roman Catholics visited Cologne, Germany. In 1995, the largest gathering of all time was to World Youth Day in Manila, The Philippines, where four million people from all over the world attended.

The major Christian pilgrimages are to:
  • Jerusalem. Site of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
  • On roads such as the Via Francine. Site of the deaths of Saint Peter, Saint Paul and other early martyrs. Headquarters of the Catholic Church.
  • Santiago de Compostela in Spain on the Way of St James (Spanish: the Camino de Santiago). This famous medieval pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint James is still popular today.

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