Pilgrimages

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, several of which are mentioned in Bible stories about the life of Jesus. A person on a pilgrimage is called a pilgrim.

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

Task: Write a definition of pilgrimage.

Task: Complete a mind map of reasons why someone would go on pilgrimage.

The pilgrimage site of Lourdes is near the Pyrenees mountains in France.

Every year, it is visited by millions of pilgrims, particularly Roman Catholics. They come to Lourdes to see the site of a famous vision experienced by a young girl called Bernadette Soubirous and to be healed by its supposedly miraculous waters.

Bernadette Soubirous was born in 1844 to a poor miller. One day, while collecting firewood, Bernadette is said to have seen Mary, the mother of Jesus, dressed in white with a blue sash and a yellow rose on each foot. Bernadette is said to have witnessed the same vision many times.

During one vision, the figure of Mary asked Bernadette to drink at the spring beneath her feet. Even though this area was muddy, the next day, the ground flowed with clear water. Bernadette was then told to have a chapel built in the exact spot where the vision had taken place.

Christian pilgrims now visit and pray in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes and worship at the grotto where the vision is said to have taken place.

Pilgrims also take part in a Torchlight Marian Procession which takes place every evening before a service of mass takes place in the grotto. Pilgrims also confess their sins at the Reconciliation Chapel.

Task: Read the story of Lourdes and answer the following questions:
1. How would you feel if these events happened to you?
2. Do you believe these events to be true? Why/why not?
3. Why are these events considered so important?

Iona is a quiet island in Scotland where a monastery was built by Columba, a monk. It is often visited by pilgrims.

Christians go there to study the Bible and pray, which may lead to spiritual growth. People often feel that they benefit from having their lives redirected or feel that they learn something about themselves while in Iona. This can allow Christians to face the challenges of life back at home in a different way.

What’s so special about Iona?

Task: Complete the table on the two Christian pilgrimages.

Task: How are the pilgrimages in Christianity similar or different to other religious pilgrimages?

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