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What Is a Pilgrimage?

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WHAT IS A PILGRIMAGE? A pilgrimage is a journey undertaken for a religious reason. Since the time of Jesus Christians have visited the places associated with his birth, life and death. In addition to these sites in Israel there are many other centres of Christian pilgrimage Lourdes in France, Walsingham, and Canterbury in England, Holywell and Saint Davids in Wales, Rome, to name but a few. The Roman Catholic Church has always taught that pilgrimage is a useful way to strengthen one's Christian faith. The Protestant Churches generally rejected the idea of pilgrimage because they believe that if it gives people the wrong idea about God. Pilgrimage was always popular in the Middle Ages, and is increasingly in popularity again, perhaps because Christians are searching for a Christian identifying in the hurly-burly of the twentieth century life. WHY I WENT ON A PILGRIMAGE I have three reasons why I went on a pilgrimage. They are: * To visit the sites of Jesus' birth, life and death in order to experience the atmosphere and gain a deeper understanding of his teaching. * To walk in his footsteps of a saint who was very special to us (Christians), especially if a miracle is connected to the site of the pilgrimage. * To thank God for a blessing he has given them. * To be with fellow Christians from all round the globe. Christianity THE HOLY LAND AND WHAT I DID I began my pilgrimage in the place of Jesus' birthplace, BETHLEHEM. The story of Bethlehem Bethlehem is a small town, which lies about five miles south of Jerusalem in the land of Israel. It attracts many thousands of Christian pilgrims every year and is especially popular as a place of pilgrimage a Christmas, for here in this little town Jesus was born. Mary and Joseph, the parents of Jesus lived in the town of Nazareth, about 100 miles to the north in the district of Galilee. ...read more.


Some time after, Jesus appeared to a number of his friends and gradually they were all convinced that he really had conquered death. He made various appearances to them over a period of about 40 days, then, on the Mount of Olives, he told them he must return to his Father, God; so he ascended to Heaven and left his followers to carry on all that he had begun. What I did in Jerusalem I made my way up to where the little village of Bethany had been and pictured the excited crowds when Jesus borrowed a donkey and began his ride to the city. It was not difficult to imagine the shouts, 'Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!' I walked along to the summit of the Mount of Olives, with its magnificent view of the old city. As I wended my way down the hillside I came to a beautiful little church called The Church of Dominus Fievit; 'dominus llevit'is Latin, meaning 'the Lord wept'. As I sat in this church, I could see, through the window behind the altar, the old city. I thought of Jesus weeping for the city in his time and I with fellow pilgrims the words of a prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Today we share your tears for the cities of the world; Still we have not loved the things that make for peace. We weep for the divided cities: Where brother fights with brother, Where anger feeds on hatred, Where prejudice blinds the eyes of compassion. We weep for our cities and for ourselves; We have not learned the things that make for peace. Lord, turn tears to love, And love to work. Turn work to justice, And all that makes for peace. I carried on past the Garden of Gethsemane to which I would return later, across the narrow Kidron Valley and up into the city, through St. ...read more.


He immediately believed he had found the place where Jesus had been crucified, for it was called 'the place of the skull'. Since he also discovered that close to it lay this ancient tomb, he was even more convinced that he had found both the place of execution and the tomb of Jesus. Someone told me before my visit, 'It is easier to pray at the Garden Tomb than it is at the Holy Sepulchre; I certainly found that to be true as I stood gazing at the empty tomb and thought quietly of Christ's victory over evil and death. The other place associated with the resurrection of Jesus, which is most memorable to me, is in Galilee. As part of our pilgrimage I visited Galilee, which is in the north of Israel. Here Jesus spent most of the three years when he went around preaching and teaching. Close to the remains of Capernaum, a little town which was most familiar to him, there is a beautiful little church known as the Church of St. Peter, or 'the Chapel of the Primacy'. It is built on a rock, which juts into the Sea of Galilee. Here, it is thought, the risen Jesus appeared to the disciples, and especially to Peter. As I stood outside this place, with the sound of the water lapping at the edge of the lake, one pilgrim read aloud the words from the Gospel According to St. John, chapter 21 verses 4-17, which tell of the risen Jesus appearing and talking to Peter. Again easier to visualise the scene beside the peaceful lake, and it was certainly easier to pray here. Now that I am home and look back on my pilgrimage, I find that I am not just left with memories: the experiences of visiting and praying at these holy places have strengthened my faith and made me more determined to be better Christians. Certainly the pilgrimage for me was 'a journey of a lifetime', a truly spiritual experience. THE END. ...read more.

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