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Pilgrim, Pilgrimage

saint journey medieval period

A pilgrim is one who undertakes a journey (pilgrimage) to a site believed to be holy, in order to worship, seek spiritual aid or physical healing, or to fulfill a vow or obligation (e.g., do penance). The practice of visiting sites associated with the life and passion of *Christ is attested from the very early Christian period; it increased following the empress Saint *Helena’s pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 326, her discovery of important *relics, and her foundation of churches and shrines. Jerusalem and Rome were major pilgrimage goals from the early Christian period, while the growth of the cult of *saints and relics through the Middle Ages as well as the increased practice of imposing pilgrimage as a penance, inspired and institutionalized numerous other pilgrimages, for example, the journey to Santiago da Compostela (the shrine of Saint *James the Greater) in northern Spain and the pilgrimage to Canterbury (the shrine of Saint *Thomas Becket; . When pilgrims are represented in medieval art, they are often identifiable by their costume and possessions (a walking staff, scrip, or knapsack) or by the badges they wear, such as the scallop shell emblem of Saint James. In illustrations of the *Road to Emmaus and the *Supper at Emmaus, Christ and the disciples may be dressed as pilgrims. Saint *Roch often appears as a pilgrim. Pilgrimage souvenirs, badges, medals, flasks, or ampullae were widely produced through the medieval period. The floor pavement labyrinths in Gothic cathedrals were also used as surrogate pilgrimages, slowly traced by the devout, kneeling or walking around to the center, which was often labeled as Jerusalem. The motif of pilgrimage (as a physical journey or spiritual quest) is frequent in medieval literature .

Pincus, Gregory Goodwin [next] [back] Pieta

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