Pilgrimages: Why You Should Take the Journey Today

The word “pilgrimage” is linguistically linked to the meaning of "change.” While in some languages, the origins can be traced to a “slow journey,” in others, it means an inner transformation. The most important aim of pilgrimage is a shift in perception of a person and its role. For many travelers, pilgrimage results in a profound restoration of the faith.

Most of the global religions have their own pilgrimage traditions. In one form or another, a journey to holy lands or places is believed to lead to a deep journey to your own soul.

The journey is more important than a destination

Not only Christians embarked on a pilgrimage. As a way to strengthen the connection to God, all religious people sought to visit places of Holy worship. Although the traditions varied during the course of history, the experience sought by those who travel to Holy places, was the same: the enlightening presence of divine powers.

According to the Bible, it was Abraham who first embarked on the pilgrimage. He became the first historically known pilgrim because he has received a message from God to start his journey to faraway lands.

Accompanied by Sarah, Abraham’s wife, and other family members, the wise man started his journey. During his travels, he was focused on his personal transformation and not the final destination which was not revealed to him initially.

The history of pilgrimage

Middle Ages in Europe saw the popularity of the pilgrimage. In his lifetime, a Christian could make pilgrimages to Jerusalem, Rome, and Santiago de Compostela, three of the major long-distance pilgrimage destinations.

Any sacred site can be the goal of a pilgrimage, such as a church or a saint's tomb.

The idea that pilgrims come from all walks of life was especially popular in the Middle Ages when social status was particularly meaningful to the people. Yet, the reasons for the trip were (and are) extremely diverse. Most people travel for religious reasons: pilgrimages for salvation, out of gratitude, out of a vow, or as penance.

What exactly is a pilgrimage?

Initially, the traditional idea of a pilgrimage was to reach a place of pilgrimage, feel close to God, or fulfill a holy commandment. Almost 60% of people still choose a pilgrimage for religious reasons. Getting to know like-minded people and searching for relaxation or self-discovery are popular motivations.

There are many pilgrimage routes, but one thing connects them all: pilgrims are always on the journey to our God. And this route is often the real reason for pilgrimage and distinguishes it from all other forms of travel.

What happens on a pilgrimage?

You can organise a pilgrimage according to your ideas and preferences. Visits to church services and monasteries are part of the pilgrimage. Since the pilgrimage routes often lead through cultural sites, there is a lot to see! Monasteries, churches, castles, palaces, landscapes, and cities.

Pilgrimage is always an opportunity to rethink existing perspectives and attributions. A pilgrimage always has something to do with encountering something new and rediscovering God’s encouragement for one’s own everyday life. And it has to do with experiencing a call from God to ourselves in the face of others and their footprints that enrich our paths.

The unique thing about the modern pilgrimage movement: The journey to oneself, which connects all pilgrims, is at the same time very individual. "Being on the way" has also become a motto of life apart from the pilgrimage movement and so the Latin meaning of "pilgrim,” namely “guest” or “stranger”(“pergere.”) The way is to God!

All in all…

In earlier times, people made pilgrimages almost exclusively for religious reasons. Today, on the other hand, it's mostly about forgetting the stress of everyday life and clearing your head. Nevertheless, the pilgrimage always remains a spiritual path.

Today there are so many different reasons to have made a pilgrimage at least once in your life.

Pilgrim Ecclesiastic Educational Centre Andcross https://www.andcross.ee would like to accommodate you and offer carefully selected most beautiful Orthodox pilgrimage destinations. You can leave the organisation of your pilgrimage to us and fully prepare yourself for a fascinating experience!