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What is involved in pilgrimage? Illustrate the differing approaches to pilgrimage by referring to two or more places of pilgrimage.

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Introduction

R.E. Coursework - Pilgrimage AO1 What is involved in pilgrimage? Illustrate the differing approaches to pilgrimage by referring to two or more places of pilgrimage. (Target AO1 = 400-600 words, 16 marks) The word pilgrimage means a journey to a sacred place or shrine, especially one of exalted purpose or moral significance. Pilgrimages can take place all over the world and in all religions. Each religion having a different approach to the way they profess their faith. Lourdes and Lough Derg are two examples of Christian pilgrimages. Lourdes is in France and is one of the most famous places of pilgrimage for Christians. It is entirely devoted to Our Lady and St. Bernadette. Our Lady appeared to St. Bernadette eighteen times as the Immaculate Conception. A shrine has been made for Our Lady and a statue stands where she appeared to St. Bernadette. Millions of people visit Lourdes each year to pray for the sick, elderly, disabled and to pray to Our Lady. Many of these people do travel to Lourdes to pray for themselves and to receive a certain type of healing, either mental, spiritual or in some cases physical. They attend masses and services at Lourdes in which the pilgrims come together to show their faith. Lourdes is an all year round pilgrimage but during the year it is devoted to different types of pilgrims. For example, at Easter Lourdes is mainly for the HCPT which are disabled children from all around the world. ...read more.

Middle

Patrick the patron saint of Ireland lived. People go to visit these places because they feel they are different from the rest and special because a holy person actually chose to come there, they feel a stronger connection to that person. Also many feel a stronger connection with God or that they are closer to him. These places are very holy so they boost a person's faith and make them feel spiritually enlightened. At Lough Derg, rather than worshipping Our Lady and praying for the sick like at Lourdes, people go to seek a way of showing repentance, go to regain or boost their spiritual life, others may simply feel a call to face the challenge of the exercises of the island and some others may still go but have no clear idea of why they simply know that it is something they have to do. People go on pilgrimages for many different reasons. People can go to worship; either publicly in services or they do their own private worship. Some pilgrimages can be very physically demanding, e.g. Lough Derg or climbing Croagh Patrick. They can be painful and you can suffer but this shows a kind of self-sacrifice to God. Another reason is for healing. This is probably the most important and is what attracts the most people to come to Lourdes. Many people go to receive healing in either mental, spiritual or a physical form. Miracles have been known to occur at Lourdes for example where people were cured of certain physical disabilities or illnesses. ...read more.

Conclusion

A key point in support of this position is that the population is growing quickly so there are more and more people in the world. They would say that it needed to expand because of the vast amounts of people that want to visit these places and that if they stayed the same then the places of pilgrimages would simply not be able to cope. Especially as many people who come to visit are disabled or old, which means they need special treatment, so these places of pilgrimage had to commercialise. Also disabled people need more space than others so that's another reason for the expansion and commercialisation. After considering the different points of view and the supporting evidence I think that places of pilgrimages have not become too commercialised to a point where it takes the value away for Christians. I think this because now the pilgrimages have become so big that more people go, so you can feel more like part of a group and feel proud to be a Christian, so in a way gives more value, especially in the masses. But also I feel it can take some value away due to the size of the places, you don't feel as spiritually healed or that you can connect as much with God because of all the people around you. Some places can get too big and so don't feel special at all. So, I do think that the places of pilgrimage don't really lose any value due the expansion of them and commercialisation. They are only big because they need to be, but haven't lost any value in my opinion. ...read more.

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