Explain why going on pilgrimage is important for many Roman Catholic Christians. With reference to two places of pilgrimage explain the meaning and practices associated with them.

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Rachael O'Reilly

Explain why going on pilgrimage is important for many Roman Catholic Christians. With reference to two places of pilgrimage explain the meaning and practices associated with them.

A pilgrimage is a symbolic journey to a sacred place, or a person has undertaken as an act of worship. Many people feel they have to go on pilgrimages to feel closer to God. There are many sites of pilgrimage situated around the world and people visit these places for many different reasons. People go on pilgrimage to visit places where Jesus lived and taught, to ask God for a particular favor, to seek forgiveness of their sins, to thank God for a blessing they've received, to fulfil a promise to a loved one or to have a relaxing holiday. For Roman Catholics pilgrimage is important for renewing and strengthening faith, it is one of the most public declarations of our faith and through it we should hope to become better Christians.

The two main sites of Christian pilgrim in the world are Lourdes and the Holy Land.

At Lourdes it is believed that in 1858 Bernadette Soubirous, the teenage daughter of a poor French family saw a vision of an unknown lady at a cave by a river in Lourdes. After more visions the woman revealed herself as the Immaculate Conception and caused a spring to flow in the grotto. The site was recognized as holy in 1862 and in 1866 Bernadette became a nun. Lourdes is important to the Catholic Church because they Canonized Bernadette after she died at 35. Lourdes is of particular interest to the sick because it provides special care for the sick. The sick are prayed for anointed and taken to the baths that are connected with many miraculous cures. In the Catholic Church one of the processes before a saint is publicly proclaimed concerns an examination of miracles of healing attributed to that person, healing is a great sign of God's action in the church. Many miracle cures have been reported at Lourdes. To count as a miracle by the Church it must meet three conditions; the cure must be sudden, the cure must be complete and the cure must be permanent of a serious documented illness or disease. The are many different attractions at Lourdes where pilgrims are reminded of their Christian faith. Innumerable pilgrims at Lourdes kiss the rock of Massabielle. Those who profess a pure adult faith or pure rationalism have criticized this, but pilgrims, in this action express faith in God who is the rock on which we can always rely. At the back of the grotto pilgrims pause in front of the spring that ran through the fingers of Bernadette at the instigation of Our Lady. They like to leave flowers or there or to take a photograph. Thus in this "shelter for pigs", where there was but dirty water, pure water appeared on 25th February 1858. Since then, it has continued to flow. It is beautiful and reminds us of the purity of Mary. Pilgrims may also light candles in the grotto, to remind us that Jesus is the light of the world and how he lights up our hearts and minds, the flame is also a symbol of the strength the pilgrimage will give us. There is also a statue of Our Lady in the grotto where pilgrims may remember Our Lady with her eyes raised toward heaven. During the pilgrimage there are special masses, candlelight processions in the dark and many youth activities. Many young people visit Lourdes, to help the sick who are often searching for a cure. The highlight of the pilgrimage is to enter the grotto and bathe in the holy water. Many sick pilgrims who have not been cured still claim the pilgrimage was worth while as it has brought them closer to God and helped them cope with their illness.
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The Holy Land is also a popular destination for many Catholic pilgrims as it is the land of Jesus' birth, seeing where Jesus grew up and lived his life may help some people understand the Bible more and help people feel closer to Jesus. For centuries pilgrims have traveled to Israel to see the places where Jesus lived taught and died. There are many places which draw pilgrims but they visit most of them out of interest rather than feeling they're visiting a holy site. Many people like to visit Capernaum where Jesus preached in the synagogue or ...

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