DPPL 284: A Golden Age for Pilgrims

STA altar at night smallIn order to travel, one must have some means. Perhaps personal wealth. Maybe a certain skill at begging. I know I can’t just run off to another continent, as much as I would like to.

284. The middles ages were the golden age of pilgrimage. Apart from their strictly religious function, they played an extraordinary part in the development of Western Christianity, the amalgamation of various nations, and to the interchange of ideas and values from every European civilization.

It wasn’t just Jerusalem, where Jesus lived, but also sites dear to Christians because of the faith witness of men and women who followed in the Lord’s pilgrim footsteps themselves.

There were numerous places of pilgrimage. Jerusalem, despite its occupation by the muslims, still remained a great spiritual attraction for the faithful, and gave rise to the crusades whose purpose was to make Jerusalem accessible to the faithful who wished to visit the Holy Sepulchre. Numerous pilgrims flocked to venerate the instruments of the Passion: the tunic, the holy towel of Veronica, the holy stairs, and the holy shroud. Pilgrims came to Rome to venerate the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul (ad Limina Apsotolorum), the catacombs and basilicas, in recognition of the service rendered to the universal Church by the successor of Peter. The shrine of Santiago di Compostela from the ninth to the sixteenth centuries was frequented by countless pilgrims. They came on foot from various countries and reflect an idea of pilgrimage that is at once religious, social, and charitable. The tomb of St. Martin of Tours was another important centre of pilgrimage, as was Canterbury, the place of the martyrdom of St. Thomas à Becket. These places of pilgrimage had enormous influence throughout Europe. Monte Gargano in Apulia, San Michele della Chieusa in the Piemonte, and Mont St. Michel in Normandy, all dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel, were important pilgrim centres, as were Walsingham, Rocamadour and Loreto.

I know we have readers far more familiar with Europe than I. Has the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy missed any site of importance from the Middle Ages?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, post-conciliar liturgy documents. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to DPPL 284: A Golden Age for Pilgrims

  1. Liam says:

    There were many others. For example, in England, there was Our Lady of Walsingham and Glastonbury Abbey, in the Empire, there was Cologne, Nidaros (now Trondheim) in Norway, et cet.

  2. Liam says:

    Mind you, there were circumstantial reasons for the booming pilgrimage trade in the High Middle Ages. It was the Medieval Warm Period: a generally prosperous and healthy time for Europe. The era of invasion and depredation by sea raiders (Vikings and Saracens) was over (or abated in the case of the latter), and the era of westward migration by people from the Eurasian steppes paused between the Magyars in the mid-10th century and the Mongol invasions 3 centuries later.

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