Explain why some Christians go on pilgrimage and the effect which this might have on them.

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Explain why some Christians go on pilgrimage and the effect which this might have on them.

In a way, this subject can be divided into two; the pilgrimages of medieval times and the pilgrimages of today. The application of Christianity to daily life and pilgrimages is a concept that is very important to other Christians today, as they must make the decision on whether to go on a pilgrimage for themselves and for others.

Pilgrimages in medieval times could be undertaken for a variety of reasons, many which do not appear today. This is because the pilgrimages back then were so different from those today. The roads were dangerous, just tracks, very few reliable maps and robbers were lurking along the way. Going on a pilgrimage was considered a very testing ordeal, and was much more of an undertaking for Christians to show their faith to God by going on one than to find their faith in God.

In earlier times, certainly not all the time, the Crusades were being waged. Going on a pilgrimage was a way for people to escape the Crusades and not be called up to fight. The pilgrims were seen as devoting themselves to God in another way, and therefore would not have to fight in the Crusades, which understandably, many people did not want to. Having gone on a pilgrimage to escape the Crusades, a Christian may have developed a sense of pacifism, and, therefore, would not support any military action in the future. On the other hand, a Christian may feel that he/she has not been faithful to God in avoiding the Crusades, and may decide that they want to fight for their faith after all.

Avoiding things was a major reason for pilgrims to go on a pilgrimage; sometimes when a person was convicted of a small crime they would be given the option of prison or a pilgrimage, in the hope that the ordeal would help them improve. Many criminals took the pilgrimage option, because, although the pilgrimage could be dangerous, they were unlikely to be chained up and tortured as was common in prisons. The pilgrims that went on pilgrimages because of this were usually converted to Christianity. The long journey to the place of pilgrimage accompanied by many other Christians would usually cause the criminals to repent. Some criminals were unchanged by the pilgrimage, and, if caught again, would face a more traditional sentence.

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Some pilgrims went to escape the threats of people that they lived or worked with, to avoid debts or punishments. Pilgrimages were a good option because there was very little chance of them being found and they were in the safety of many good people who would help them in difficulty. Also, they could stay at the place of pilgrimage as long as they liked, and when they returned, the debt may have been forgotten. People that went on pilgrimages for this reason usually returned and paid off the debt or apologised to whoever it was whom they were ...

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