An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church


A journey taken with a religious or devotional intention. Pilgrimages are typically made to shrines, holy places, or locations of religious significance. They may be made as prayers of thanksgiving, penitence, intercession, or petition. Pilgrimages have been practiced in many religious traditions, including Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Lk 2:41 records that Jesus' parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. There are records of Christian pilgrimages dating from the second and third centuries. Christian pilgrims often journeyed to Jerusalem and Rome. Egeria, a fourth-century pilgrim to Jerusalem, described the Holy Week celebration that she witnessed. Shrines of the Blessed Virgin Mary, such as Lourdes in France and Walsingham in England, have been popular places of pilgrimage. Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales is a fictional account of stories told by pilgrims on their way to the shrine of Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. This shrine was one of the most popular places of pilgrimage until its destruction under Henry VIII. In modern times some penitential practices traditionally associated with pilgrimages are no longer encouraged by the church. Pilgrimage centers continue to provide an opportunity for retreat, renewal, and a journey of the heart.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.