PilgrimageBy: Patrice Fountain

Topic: The topic I will discuss is Pilgrimage. I will discuss briefly, the history, traditions, purpose, and the different religous veiws
about it.
According to the New King James Version Matthew 16:24 states; “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Since the beginning of Christ and after Jesus’ death individuals have been participating in pilgrimages. A pilgrimage is defined as a journey resulting from religious causes, externally to a holy site, and internally for spiritual purposes and internal understanding.” (Barber, 1993, p.1) Ranging from very “religious” pilgrimages to “traditional” pilgrimages, these journeys allowed followers to show their continuous growth of their faith. Religions such as Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, etc all participate in different routines that display their faith. By exploring the history, different methodologies, and similarities/differences of pilgrimages, one will gain a better understanding of pilgrimages present day and of the past.
The practice of pilgrimages stems back to the Judaic tradition in relation to the journey to Jerusalem. In the early times of Christianity, followers would journey to the Holy Land to pray and visit places that were connected with the life of Christ. As times progressed pilgrimages not only progressed to acts of religious devotions, but they also became acts of mediation and thanks. Therefore, it would be easy to assume, that the motivations of pilgrims varied. For example, for some, the major attractions of the journey were simply having the opportunity to travel and having the pleasure to experience new places. In some cases, hearing the inspired tales told by the travelers’ would also encourage others to commence on a pilgrimage. However, the overall experience and significance of a pilgrimage, was different for each individual. For example, the act of participation in a pilgrimage for monks was more of an absolute rejection to what they deemed as a “normal” way of life. Their renunciations of the “normal” world, in essence meant that they were rejecting anything that was of great importance to them, like the familiarity of people and places which helped to establish their home. Other motivations for participating in a pilgrimage were the act of penances and indulgences. In addition to these, there were other traditional and less cynical motivations, like ones desire to be cured from a sickness or devotion to a saint.
In contrast, the Jewish religion often focuses on the importance of Jerusalem. The city has several important holy sites, of which the Western Wall is undoubtedly the most important (Coleman & Elsner, 1995). Today, visits by Jewish pilgrims to the Western Wall are usually associated with praying, swearing oaths, making request, and placing notes (supplications) between the stones of the Wall to increase the chances of a wish being granted.
For a Muslim, there is a required pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca (Saudi Arabia) that must be made, if the person has the means to go. This is generally a once in a life-time experience and is often viewed as an obligation that a Muslim must make. This pilgrimage usually lasts for several days. In order for an individual to participate, prior arrangements must be made for their families. The purpose of this pilgrimage is for the participants to gain a more conscious understanding of God and to have a better sense of spirituality. It is also an opportunity for one to seek forgiveness of their sins, to be purified, and strengthened in their spiritual relationship. The process of the pilgrimage is very lengthy. For starters, they participate in a commemoration signifying the trials of Abraham. Each day thereafter, includes some biblical representation /prescribed rites that they must complete as a part of the pilgrimage.
In closing, the last pilgrimage I will discuss will be the Irish pilgrimage. The bulk of my research is about, the Irish pilgrimage. Of all the different pilgrimages that I researched, this one most interest me. I took interest in it because of the many different traditions that help to constitute an Irish pilgrimage. Just as there are many traditions to Religion/Christianity that helps one to better understand its true meaning, learning about the different Irish traditions helped me to better understand as well. For starters, in the Irish pilgrimage, there are three national shrines that they pay reference to—Croagh Patrick, Knock and Lough. Each is an individual pilgrimage, which consists of different stations that the pilgrims must perform.
The climbing of Croagh Patrick, Ireland’s Holy Mountain, is an example of a penitential pilgrimage in which the journey over sacred grounds forms the most important devotional exercise and involves walking in the footstep of the pilgrimage’s founder. Pilgrims see the difficult as a test of their faith, as well as an opportunity to strengthen social and familial bonds. At Knock Shrine, Pilgrims move through a sacred built environment, where processional aspects promote devotion to the Virgin Mary and relief of the suffering of the sick within a context that strengthens the pilgrim’s ties with the official Catholic Church. At Lough Derg, the pilgrim’s travel to an island where they are isolated for three days of fasting, an all-night prayer vigil and the performance of grueling devotions around sacred sites (Lehrhaupt, 1985).
The pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick required the pilgrims to complete three stations.
According to Meike Blackwell, a local historian, the first station is a statue of St. Patrick. Pilgrims make seven deisal (praying circuits) around the statue, where they say prayers in sequence-seven Our Fathers, seven Hail Marys and one creed (Blackwell, 1985). The second station is performed at the bedside of St. Patrick, where the initial prayers are repeated. The final station, Great Gardens, is performed by the pilgrims completed three stone mounds. Here pilgrims are to walk around each individual mound first, seven times. Afterwards they are to complete seven walks around them all.
The pilgrimage to Knock Shrine makes up of four stations. The first station is known as the Blessed Sacrament, this station is set up for prayer and meditation for the pilgrims. The second station is the Stations of the Cross; here pilgrims meditate on Christ’s sufferings. The third station, is the Fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary, here pilgrims are expected to walk counter-clockwise around the Apparition Church. St the final station, pilgrims participate in the recitation of the Litany of the Blessed Virgin.
The pilgrimage to Lough Derg, is made up of nine stations. It takes about an hour to complete each individual station. At the close of the first day, which generally is around 9:30pm, pilgrims are expected to have completed at least three full stations. Afterwards, pilgrims are assembled for the Night Prayer and Benediction. In addition to this, there are also four stations for the evening, which occur at different times. By 8:45 a.m. the Sacrament Reconciliation takes place. Afterwards, the pilgrims proceed to the eighth station. Followed by a small service
(Renewal of Baptismal Promises), evening Mass, Night Prayer/Benediction, and then lastly they complete the final station.
Now that I have a better understanding about pilgrimage and knowing what it means to the different religions, it has enabled me to have a better understanding towards individuals that I know, whose belief system may be different from mine. We live in a world full of different ethnic groups, cultures, and religion preferences. My own personal pilgrimage is one that I exercise on a daily basis in order to continuously grow my faith with God. With the help of Luke 6:37, “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; I have enjoyed the learning about the different types of religions and realized that in our own individual religions, we will all have our own judgment. My job is to not judge, but to educate myself on everyone who lives in this great nation we call The United States of America.
























Bibliography

Title: Processional Aspects of Irish Pilgrimage
Author(s): Linda Lehrhaupt
Source: The Drama Review: TDR, Vol. 29, No. 3, Processional Performance (Autumn, 1985), pp. 48-64
Publisher(s): The MIT Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1145653


Title: Irish Pilgrimage: The Different Tradition
Author(s): Mary Lee Nolan
Source: Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 73, No. 3 (Sep., 1983), pp. 421-438
Publisher(s): Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of the Association of American Geographers
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2562730

Webb, Dianna. Medieval European Pilgrimage. Houndmills : PALGRAVE, 2002. Print.

Critique*
I really enjoyed reading your paper. One thing that I would have added is that many Jews come to the Western Wall to celebrate holidays, bat/bar mitzvah's and even to gossip. There were a few grammatical/mechanic errors in the paper. Mainly word arrangement and closing quotation marks (last paragraph). I am really glad that you included your opinion in your paper. Many people might not, so as to not sway people to agree or disagree with the writers opinion, but you did it very tactfully. But overall, very good paper. Loved the video as well!!~clare bolin