What is a Pilgrimage?

What is a Pilgrimage?


What is a pilgrimage? Why do people go on them? 


A pilgrimage is a spiritual journey to visit a holy site, such as the shrine of a saint, a place where the Blessed Virgin Mary has appeared, or an historic church or chapel. What makes a pilgrimage different from a vacation and a pilgrim distinct from a tourist is the spirit in which the journey is made. Pilgrimages are really a symbol of our spiritual journey in life, reminding us that this world is not our true home and that we spend our lives journeying to our homeland, which is the Kingdom of God.

Pilgrimages — which can be as involved as a trip to Rome or the Holy Land or as simple as visiting the Blessed Sacrament in a local parish church — are also an opportunity for us to step out of the rhythms and limits of our daily lives to seek out connection with God in a special way, by visiting a holy place. At times, such as on a special feast, a jubilee, or the anniversary of the dedication of the church, special graces (called “indulgences”) can also be offered to pilgrims, helping to enrich our experience of the celebration.

In the end, pilgrimages are an ancient act of devotion and something that each of us can put into practice, helping us to discover how God is present in the world around us, in places both near and far.


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