Pilgrimage

A pilgrimage is a journey that has religious or spiritual significance. The journey is usually taken to an important religious place. There are many sites of Christian pilgrimage, including some mentioned in Bible stories about Jesus’ life, such as Jerusalem. A person travelling on a pilgrimage is referred to as a pilgrim.

Purposes of pilgrimage

Pilgrimage is not compulsory in Christianity, but many Christians choose to undertake journeys to holy sites to:

  • deepen their connection with God
  • feel connected to the worldwide community of Christians, and to meet Christians from different denominations
  • learn more about and feel connected to the history of Christianity
  • see sites where miracles happened and receive special blessings
  • seek healing or self-acceptance of ailments
Eduqas Christianity-specific visualisation depicting Christian pilgrimage sites: Taizé and Walsingham.

Taizé

Taizé is a small village in France that is home to an ecumenical community of one hundred Catholic and Protestant monks from around the world. They are devoted to the idea of peace through meditation, silence and prayer. Ecumenism is key to Taizé’s appeal, and it attracts people from many different cultures and traditions.

Tragically, Brother Roger, who founded the community, died in 2005 at the age of 90 after being stabbed during a prayer service. However, his mission lives on and Taizé continues to be one of the world's most important sites of Christian pilgrimage, with tens of thousands of young pilgrims visiting every year.

At Taizé, young people:

  • are encouraged to live out the Christian Gospel in a spirit of joy, simplicity and reconciliation
  • experience Taizé’s unique meditative music and chants as part of candlelit worship
  • gather with the monks for prayer, three times a day

The Shrine of Our Lady, Walsingham

Walsingham is a village in Norfolk, England. It is important for Christian pilgrims because it is believed to be the site of an important vision of the Virgin Mary, also known as Our Lady.

In 1061, a Saxon noblewoman, Richeldis de Faverches, is said to have had a vision of Mary. She claimed that Mary took her to her house in Nazareth, the site where the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would give birth to Jesus. Mary asked Richeldis to build an exact copy of this house in Walsingham.

The copy is called the Holy House, and it is inside St Mary’s Church at Walsingham. In the church there is a statue of Mary, called Our Lady of Walsingham, above the altar. Therefore, the site is also known as the Nazareth of England, and it has been visited by pilgrims for centuries. Every year there is a national pilgrimage to Walsingham on the spring bank holiday (in late May), which attracts Christians from all over the UK and around the world.

Key events of a pilgrimage to Walsingham

  • Some Catholic Christians walk barefoot over the last mile, from a place called the Slipper Chapel to the Holy House. This is an act of penance for their sins.
  • There are daily services where pilgrims pray together, especially saying the rosary, celebrating Eucharist and receiving blessings.
  • Pilgrims go on a procession from the ruined priory to the shrine.
  • There is a daily service called the Sprinkling of the Well, as some pilgrims believe that the water of the church well can bring special blessings.
Question

Which holy person is believed to have appeared in Walsingham?

Mary, the mother of Jesus (also called Our Lady or the Virgin Mary).