Sacred Journeys Around The World

Philosophy explains that the realm of the religious transcends the ethical, where things can be explained. But once in our lives, we seek to find ourselves again through an encounter with the divine. A pilgrimage is a sacred journey which many take to be comforted in the presence of their god, seeking help and change. Here are some of the most popular pilgrimages in our world today:

  1. The Hajj. It is the largest annual pilgrimage in the world with over three million participants making their way to Mecca in Saudi Arabia each year. The Hajj is the fifth act of Islamic worship as a submission to Allah. It occurs on the 12^th month of the Islamic calendar from the 8th to the 12th day. This year, the Hajj will take place on November 25 – 29. A “lesser pilgrimage” can also be performed. This is the Umra. Pilgrims who make their way to Mecca at other times of the year participate in this. However, they are still obliged to perform the Hajj at another time in their lives if they have means to do so.
  2. Canterbury. If you read The Canterbury Tales, you would know that the 14th century tale features 29 pilgrims making their wayfrom London to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket. The pilgrimage to Canterbury has many flocking to the Cathedral where Saint Thomas Becket is buried. His cloak soaked in blood is said to cure people of blindness, epilepsy or leprosy. Many seek healing on this prayerful journey. The Canterbury Cathedral is the Mother Church of the Anglican Community and seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury. It is also a World Heritage Site.
  3. Santiago de Compostela. The way of Saint James is one of the most popular Christian pilgrimages to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. The remains of Saint James are said to be buried here. There are various routes on the way to Santiago de Compostela, coming from England, Portugal, France or Madrid. The main route is the /Camino Frances/ or the route from France. This pilgrimage is considered one of three pilgrimages that can earn a Christian plenary indulgence, or a pardon for sins committed, and is one of the most important to the Christian religion.
  4. Via Francigena. The road to Rome from Canterbury is known as the Via Francigena. Like the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, the Via Francigena is of the three pilgrimages that can grant plenary indulgence. It is a medieval road that passes through England, France, Switzerland and Italy connecting Europe with Rome. There are those who make this pilgrimage on foot, horseback or by bicycle today, mostly driven by a devotional reason: the pilgrimage to the Holy Sites of Christianity.
  5. Guadalupe. Guadalupe, Mexico is a destination for many Catholics. Popular for the Marian apparition in 1531, Our Lady of Guadalupe is a symbol of importance and a representation of the “Patroness of the Americas”. The Basilica is the second most visited Roman Catholic shrine in the world. Most pilgrimages begin within Mexico itself with church groups led by resident priests.

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