A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Walking Pilgrimages (9)

Santiago Cathedral

The idea of pilgrimage is much older than Christianity, but always it has been an expression of the same two main concepts: that of making a pilgrimage by travelling to a specific geographical site, and that of being on a perpetual pilgrimage; the journey that is life itself. Both are the pursuit of a greater good than mere existence, and both involve discomfort and hardship, if not a much overworked word, peril. To view life as a pilgrimage is, in part, a description of life as a result of living it... MARGARET PAWLEY Prayers For Pilgrims


I'm just the latest in a very long tradition of pilgrims, to Rome and many other places, for any of a dozen reasons. My own reason for pilgrimage was gratitude for a favour granted. Those who went before me have all had reasons of their own. We've taken to the road with causes, and results, as varied as our routes. DENNIS LARKIN A Walk To Rome


Pilgrimage, the journey to a distant sacred goal, is found in all the great religions of the world. It is a journey both outwards, to new, strange, dangerous places, and inwards, to spiritual improvement, whether through increased self-knowledge or through the braving of physical dangers. RICHARD BARBER Pilgrimages

Camino, Spain

In Richard Barber's book Pilgrimages he describes many different pilgrimage traditions throughout the world: Jewish, Christian and Moslem pilgrimages to Jerusalem; the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca; Christian routes to Canterbury and Rome, to Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain, to Fatima in Portugal, to Lourdes in France, and to many other European shrines; the Hindu pilgrimage to Benares in India; and Buddhist pilgrimages to shrines and stupas in India, China and Tibet. (The Buddha's ashes are distributed among eight different stupas, or dome-shaped cairns, in India.)

Camino, Spain

I myself have trekked three pilgrimage routes: one from Le Puy in France to Santiago in Spain; one from Arles in France to Puente la Reina in Spain; and one from Seville along the Via de la Plata to La Gudina, just short of Santiago. That's a total distance of more than 2000 miles. (Links to these walks are in my sidebar.)

Camino, Spain


George said...

Lovely, Robert. I must confess to a wee bit of envy when I read of your 2,000 miles of camino pilgrimages alone. I must get Barbour's book on pilgrimages; it sounds like a great read. I also love your camino photos, each of which invites one into the distance, much as the pilgrim is invited to the destination (if, indeed, there is one).

Dominic Rivron said...

All these walking posts are making me restless! Took the mother-in-law's dog for a walk across a field today and felt a distinct itch. I feel an expedition coming on...

The Solitary Walker said...

George, I'm a wee bit envious of myself, as I wish I were walking another long stretch of camino right now! Barber's book is OK but nothing special. There are lots of other, great books on pilgrimage around, however. I would really recommend 'On Pilgrimage' by Jennifer Lash - about her own pilgrimage journey taken a few years before her sad death from cancer.

Dominic - another restless blogger! (Are you sure that itch wasn't a flea?)

Ruth said...

There is something very appealing about a pilgrimage. So many miles, the arduous daily routine, the surprises that will come, the daily rewards. The completion. I've taken small vision quests, looking for answers within. Just a couple, and by car and foot. But those are a little different, because there is no destination except the answer.

The Solitary Walker said...

Pilgrimages are in my blood now, Ruth. The more you do, the more you want to do. And, of course, we're on one all the time anyway.