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Examine and Comment on the practice of pilgrimage during medieval times and its significance in the medieval church

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Examine and Comment on the practice of pilgrimage during medieval times and its significance in the medieval church As pilgrimage in medieval times is a very large topic to explore, I have decided to use Canterbury as my focus. Canterbury was and is still seen as a very important place for pilgrimage and was the main reason why pilgrims from other parts of England, Europe and all over the world have come to venerate St Thomas Becket. I want to examine how pilgrimage at Canterbury developed and evolved from Becket's death in 1170 to the Reformation in the 1500s. What kind of an effect did this have on the Cathedral's revenue; surely the Cathedral saw a large profit? Even though people had been visiting Canterbury for centuries in small groups so that they could respect and honour saints like Augustine, Dunstan and Alphege, however, was it pilgrimage to the shrine of Thomas Becket, the murdered Archbishop, which made most the money for Canterbury?Did pilgrimage to his shrine help to make a very wide impact on pilgrimage in England as it brung the majority of pilgrims to Canterbury Cathedral? During the medieval ages Canterbury Cathedral saw its peak years in terms of the number of visitors and revenue generated as well as its downfalls which I would like to explore along with the common criticisms of pilgrimage. R.Finucane begins his book 'Miracles and Pilgrims' by asking why pilgrims in the early middle ages would be drawn to the 'mouldering remains' of a saint. The answer is most likely to be because they wanted a cure for their illnesses. Finucane describes 'cripples writhing on the floor of Becket's simple tomb'1Thomas Becket's death in 1170 had a massive effect on the number of pilgrims that came to Canterbury. After he died in 1170 news of miracles spread almost immediately, not just in Canterbury but in other places around England. ...read more.


These associations with the Archbishop was why they chose to translate his body to the new Trinity Chapel Festivals Celebrated at Canterbury Festivals celebrated at Canterbury would also attract more pilgrims to Canterbury. People would crowd around the doors outside the Cathedral on the vigils of the Translation and of saint's Martyrdom. Here pilgrims may spend the night. Examples of activities that pilgrims would do include prayers, devotions, games and music. However, this would also give the opportunity for many thieves to steal from the pilgrims as they would often wander around the large crowds. Becket's translation led to the annual Canterbury fair on the 7th July which was The Feast of the Translation. Many booths and stalls would be opened making a lot of money from visitors. As the Feast of the Translation was set in the summer and not the winter like The Feast of St Thomas of Canterbury has attracted a larger number of pilgrims from further away. It is said that the first jubilee in 1220 gained a sum of �1,142 5s 8. This sum was mainly made up of the offering to the saint's shrine and also the site of the martyrdom There were also other factors which affected the revenue which were of a more social and political nature. For example when the Cathedral hosted the Black Prince's funeral in 1376 and the crowning of King George and Queen Isabella in Canterbury Cathedral this saw extremely high amounts in these years. The Customary and revenue at Canterbury It was very important for the shrine to be well guarded every day and night because they had many important tasks to carry out. There was a guide of the custodians duties called the Customary which was written by two monks. There were two guards in the Trinity Chapel one was temporal and the other spiritual. In the summer they would get up at five and it would be six in the winter. ...read more.


The main motive seems to be in order to get healed because it is was news of his miracles spreading further that more people visited the tomb and then the shrine. Its most significant increase as suggested my most scholars such as Dianan Webb, was in 1220 when his bones were translated because of what medieval life was like this would have been a breathtaking and an amazing sight to behold. As time goes on motives may have been more based on seeing and just as an opportunity to travel. There are criticisms that have developed and even though we assume because of the large number of pilgrims that visited Canterbury and even though large sums were offered, it seems that because of large expenditures this did not make the cathedral much of a profit. When Henry VIII destroyed the shrine this meant that there wasn't much for people to see anymore seeing what seemed to be an end to pilgrimage at Canterbury. Overall, I believe it was Thomas Becket who William Langland describes 'a symbol of resistance to oppression of the Church by the secular power of his day14' which was the main reson that pilgrims ventured to Canterbury. 1 R. Finucane - Miracles and Pilgrims- Introduction page 9 2 William Purcell- Pilgrim's England Chapter 7 Canterbury and St Thomas p.167 3 Sarah Hopper- To be a Pilgrim The Medieval Pilgrimage Experience Chapter 5 p.60 4 The Pilgrims Way- John Adair page 68 5 The Pilgrim's Way- John Adair page 40 6 Piers Plowman- William Langland passus V page 61 7 The Pilgrim's Way- John Adair page 68 8 To be a pilgrim- God's Magic Shrines and Miracles - Sarah Hopper p.127 9 European Pilgrimage- Indulgences and Jubilees pg 73 10 To be a Pilgrim - chapter 'Oppositions to Pilgrimage'- Sarah Hopper page 162 11 Pilgrims and Pilgrimage - Diana Webb- page 72 12 R. Finucane - Miracles and Pilgrims- p.34-5 13 Pilgrim's England - Chapter 7 'Canterbury and Thomas' William Purcell page183 14 Religious Studies Coursework Medieval Pilgrimage ...read more.

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