Pilgrimages (Mid. Eng. pilgrime, Old Fr. pelegrin, derived from Lat. peregrinum, supposed origin, per and ager—with idea of wandering over a distance) may be defined as journeys made to some place with the purpose of venerating it, or in order to ask there for supernatural aid, or to discharge some religious obligation.
—The idea of a pilgrimage has been traced back by some (Littledale in “Encyc. Brit.”, 1885, XIX, 90; “New Internat. Encyc.”, New York, 1910, XVI, 20, etc.) to the primitive notion of local deities, that is, that the divine beings who controlled the movements of men and nature could exercise that control only over certain definite forces or within set boundaries. Thus the river gods had no power over those who kept away from the river, nor could the wood deities exercise any influence over those who lived in deserts or clearings or on the bare mountainside. Similarly there were gods of the hills and gods of the plains who could only work out their designs, could only favor or destroy men within their own locality (III Kings, xx, 23). Hence, when some man belonging to a mountain tribe found himself in the plain and was in need of divine help, he made a pilgrimage back again to the hills to petition it from his gods. It is therefore the broken tribesmen who originate pilgrimages.
Without denying the force of this argument as suggesting or extending the custom, for it has been admitted as plausible by distinguished Catholics (cf. Lagrange, “Etudes sur les relig. semit., VIII, Paris, 1905, 295, 301), we may adhere to a less arbitrary solution by seeking its cause in the instinctive motion of the human heart. For pilgrimages properly so called are made to the places where the gods or heroes were born or wrought some great action or died, or to the shrines where the deity had already signified it to be his pleasure to work wonders. Once theophanies are localized, pilgrimages necessarily follow. The Incarnation was bound inevitably to draw men across Europe to visit the Holy Places, for the custom itself arises spontaneously from the heart. It is found in all religions. The Egyptians journeyed to Sekket’s shrine at Bubastis or to Ammon‘s oracle at Thebes; the Greeks sought for counsel from Apollo at Delphi and for cures from Asclepius at Epidaurus; the Mexicans gathered at the huge temple of Quetzal; the Peruvians massed in sun-worship at Cuzco and the Bolivians in Titicaca. But it is evident that the religions which centerd round a single character, be he god or prophet, would be the most famous for their pilgrimages, not for any reason of tribal returns to a central district where alone the deity has power, but rather owing to the perfectly natural wish to visit spots made holy by the birth, life, or death of the god or prophet. Hence Buddhism and Mohammedanism are especially famous in inculcating this method of devotion. Huge gatherings of people intermittently all the year round venerate Kapilavastu where Gaukama Buddha began his life, Benares where he opened his sacred mission, Kasinagara where he died; and Mecca and Medina have become almost bywords in English as the goals of long aspirations, so famous are they for their connection with the prophet of Islam.
Granting then this instinctive movement of human nature, we should expect to find that in Christianity God would Himself satisfy the craving He had first Himself created. The story of His appearance on earth in bodily form when He “dwelt amongst us” could not but be treasured up by His followers, and each city and site mentioned become a matter of grateful memory to them. Then again the more famous of His disciples, whom we designate as saints, themselves began to appeal to the devotion of their fellows, and round the acts of their lives soon clustered a whole cycle of venerated shrines. Especially would this be felt in the case of the martyrs; for their passion and death stamped more dramatically still the exact locality of their triumph. Moreover, it seems reasonable to suppose that yet another influence worked to the same end. There sprang up in the early Church a curious privilege, accorded to dying martyrs, of granting the remission of canonical penances. No doubt it began through a generous acceptance of the relation of St. Stephen to St. Paul. But certain it is that at an early date this custom had become so highly organized that there was a libellus, or warrant of reconciliation, a set form for the readmittance of sinners to Christian fellowship (Batiffol, “Etudes d’hist. et de theol. posit.” I, Paris, 1906, 112-20). Surely then it is not fanciful to see how from this came a further development. Not only had the martyrs in their last moments this power of absolving from ecclesiastical penalties, but even after their deaths, their tombs and the scenes of their martyrdom were considered to be capable also—if devoutly venerated—of removing the taints and penalties of sin. Accordingly it came to be looked upon as a purifying act to visit the bodies of the saints and above all the places where Christ Himself had set the supreme example of a teaching sealed with blood.
Again it may be noted how, when the penitential system of the Church, which grouped itself round the sacrament of the confessional, had been authoritatively and legally organized, pilgrimages were set down as adequate punishments inflicted for certain crimes. The hardships of the journey, the penitential garb worn, the mendicity it entailed made a pilgrim-age a real and efficient penance (Beazley, “Dawn of Modern Geography”, II, 139; Furnivall, “The Stations of Rome and the Pilgrim’s Sea Voyage”, London, 1867, 47). To quote a late text, the following is one of the canons enacted under King Edgar (959-75) “It is a deep penitence that a layman lay aside his weapons and travel far barefoot and nowhere pass a second night and fast and watch much and pray fervently, by day and by night and willingly undergo fatigue and be so squalid that iron come not on hair or on nail” (Thorpe, “Ancient Laws”, London, 1840, 411-2; cf. 44, 410, etc.). Another witness to the real difficulties of the wayfaring palmer may be cited from “Syr Isenbras”, an early English ballad:
“They bare with them no maner of thynge
That was worth a farthynge
Cattell, golde, ne fe;
But mekely they asked theyre meate
Where that they myght it gette.
For Saynct Charytie.”
(Utterson, “Early Popular Poetry”, I, London, 1817, 83).
And the Earl of Arundel of a later date obtained absolution for poaching on the bishop’s preserves at Hoghton Chace only on condition of a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Richard of Chichester (“Archologia”, XLV, 176; cf. Chaucer, “Works”, ed. Morris, III, 266). And these are but late descriptions of a practice of penance which stretches back beyond the legislation of Edgar, and the organization of St. Theodore to the sub-Apostolic age. Finally a last influence that made the pilgrimage so popular a form of devotion was the fact that it contributed very largely to ease the soul of some of its vague restlessness in an age when conditions of life tended to cramp men down to certain localities. It began to be looked upon as a real help to the establishment of a perfectly controlled character. It took its place in the medieval manuals of psychology. So John de Burg in 1385 (Pupilla oculi, fol. LXIII), “contra acediam, opera laboriosa bona ut sunt peregrinationes ad loca sancta.”
II. HISTORY IN GENERAL
—In a letter written towards the end of the fourth century by Sts. Paula and Eustochium to the Roman matron Marcella urging her to follow them out to the Holy Places, they insist on the universality of the custom of these pilgrimages to Palestine: “Whosoever is noblest in Gaul comes hither. And Britain though divided from us yet has-tens from her land of sunset to these shrines known to her only through the Scriptures.” They go on to enumerate the various nationalities that crowded round these holy places, Armenians, Persians, Indians, Ethiopians, and many others (P.L., XXII; Ep. xlvi, 489-90). But it is of greater interest to note how they claim for this custom a continuity from Apostolic days. From the Ascension to their time, bishops, martyrs, doctors, and troops of people, say they, had flocked to see the sacred stones of Bethlehem and of wherever else the Lord had trod (489). It has been suggested that this is an exaggeration, and certainly we can offer no proof of any such uninterrupted practice. Yet when the first examples begin to appear they are represented to us without a word of astonishment or a note of novelty, as though people were already fully accustomed to like adventures. Thus in Eusebius, “History” (tr. Cruse, London, 1868, VI, xi, 215), it is remarked of Bishop Alexander that “he performed a journey from Cappadocia to Jerusalem in consequence of a vow and the celebrity of the place. “And the date given is also worthy of notice, A.D. 217. Then again there is the story of the two travellers of Placentia, John and Antoninus the Elder (Acta SS., July, II, 18), which took place about 303-4. Of course with the conversion of Constantine and the visit to Jerusalem of the Empress St. Helena the pilgrimages to the Holy Land became very much more frequent. The story of the finding of the Cross is too well known to be here repeated (cf. P.L., XXVII, 1125), but its influence was unmistakable. The first church of the Resurrection was built by Eustathius the Priest (loc. cit., 1164). But the flow of pilgrimages began in vigour four years after St. Helena’s visit (Acta SS., June, III, 176: September, III, 56). Then the organization of the Church that partly caused and partly resulted from the Council of Nicaea continued the same custom.
In 333 was the famous Bordeaux Pilgrimage (“Palestine Pilgrim Text Society“, London, 1887, preface and notes by Stewart). It was the first of a whole series of pilgrimages that have left interesting and detailed accounts of the route, the peoples through which they passed, the sites identified with those mentioned in the Gospels. Another was the still better-known “Peregrinatio Silvise” (ed. Barnard, London, 1891, Pal. Pilg. Text Soc.; cf. “Rev. des quest. hist.” 1903, 367, etc.). Moreover, the whole movement was enormously increased by the language and action of St. Jerome, whose personality at the close of the fourth century dominated East and West. Slightly earlier St. John Chrysostom emphasized the efficacy in arousing devotion of visiting even the “life-less spots” where the saints had lived (In Phil., 702-3, in P.G., LXII). And his personal love of St. Paul would have unfailingly driven him to Rome to see the tomb of the Apostles, but for the burden of his episcopal office. He says (In Ephes. hom. 8, ii, 57, in P.G., LXII), “If I were freed from my labors and my body were in sound health I would eagerly make a pilgrim-age merely to see the chains that had held him captive and the prison where he lay.” While in another passage of extraordinary eloquence he expresses his longing to gaze on the dust of the great Apostle, the dust of the lips that had thundered, of the hands that had been fettered, of the eyes that had seen the Master; even as he speaks he is dazzled by the splendor of the metropolis of the world lit up by the glorious tombs of the twin prince Apostles (In Rom. horn. 32, iii, 678, etc., in P.G., LX). Nor in this is he advocating a new practice, for he mentions without comment how many people hurried across the seas to Arabia to see and venerate the dunghill of Job (Ad pop. Antioch. horn. 5, 69, in P.G., XLIX). St. Jerome was cramped by no such official duties as had kept St. Chrysostom to his diocese. His conversion, following on the famous vision of his judgment, turned him from his studies of pagan classics to the pages of Holy Writ, and, uniting with his untiring energy and thoroughness, pushed him on to Palestine to devote himself to the Scriptures in the land where they had been written. Once there the actual Gospel scenes appealed with supreme freshness to him, and on his second return from Rome his enthusiasm fired several Roman matrons to accompany him and share his labors and his devotions. Monasteries and convents were built and a Latin colony was established which in later times was to revolutionize Europe by inaugurating the Crusades.
From the Holy Land the circle widens to Rome, as a center of pilgrimages. St. Chrysostom, as has been shown, expressed his vehement desire to visit it. And in the early church histories of Eusebius, Zosimus, Socrates, and others, notices are frequent of the journeyings of celebrated princes and bishops of the City of the Seven Hills. Of course the Saxon kings and royal families have made this a familiar thing to us. The “Ecclesiastical History” of St. Bede is crowded with references to princes and princesses who laid aside their royal diadems in order to visit the shrine of the Apostles; and the “Anglo-Saxon Chronicle” after his death takes up the same refrain. Then from Rome again the shrines of local saints begin to attract their votaries. In the letter already cited in which Paula and Eustochium invite Marcella to Palestine they argue from the already established custom of visiting the shrines of the martyrs: “Martyrum ubique sepulchra veneramur” (Ep. xlvi, 488, in P.L., XXII). St. Augustine endeavors to settle a dispute by sending both litigants on a pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Felix of Nola, in order that the saint may somehow or other make some sign as to which party was telling the truth. He candidly admits that he knows of no such miracle having been performed in Africa; but argues to it from the analogy of Milan where God had made known His pleasure through the relics of Sts. Gervasius and Protasius (Ep. lxxvii, 269, in P.L., XXXIII) . Indeed, the very idea of relics, which existed as early as the earliest of the catacombs, teaches the essential worth of pilgrimages, i.e., of the journeying to visit places hallowed by events in the lives of heroes or of gods who walked in the guise of men (St. August, “De civ. Dei”, XXII, 769, in P.L., XXXVIII).
At first a mere question of individual traveling, a short period was sufficient to develop into pilgrimages properly organized companies. Even the “Peregrinatio Silvise” shows how they were being systematized. The initiators were clerics who prepared the whole route beforehand and mapped out the cities of call. The bodies of troops were got together to protect the pilgrims. Moreover, Christian almsgiving invented a method of participation in the merits of a pilgrimage for those unable actually to take part in them; it established hospices along the line (Ordericus Vitalis, “Hist. eccles.”, ed. Le Prevost, Soc. hist. France, II, 64, 53; Toulmin Smith, “English Guilds“, passim). The conversion of the Hungarians amplified this system of halts along the road; of St. Stephen, for example, we read that “he made the way very safe for all and thus allowed by his benevolence a countless multitude both of noble and common people to start for Jerusalem” (Glaber, “Chron.”, III, C. I. Mon. Germ. Hist., VII, 62). Thus these pious journeys gradually harden down and become fixed and definite. They are allowed for by laws, civil and ecclesiastical. Wars are fought to insure their safety, crusades are begun in their defense, pilgrims are everywhere granted free access in times alike of peace and war. By the “Consuetudines” of the canons of Hereford cathedral we see that legislation was found to be necessary. No canon was to make more than one pilgrimage beyond the seas in his own lifetime. But each year three weeks were allowed to enable any that would to visit shrines within the kingdom. To go abroad to the tomb of St. Denis, seven weeks of absence was considered legal, eight weeks to the body of St. Edmund at Pontigny, sixteen weeks to Rome, or to St. James at Compostella, and a year to Jerusalem (Archieol., XXXI, 251-2 notes).
Again in another way pilgrimages were being regarded as part of normal life. In the registers of the Inquisition at Carcassonne (Waterton, “Pietas Mariana Britannica”, 112) we find the four following places noted as being the centers of the greater pilgrimages to be imposed as penances for the graver crimes, the tomb of the Apostles at Rome, the shrine of St. James at Compostella, St. Thomas’s body at Canterbury, and the relics of the Three Kings at Cologne. Naturally with all this there was a great deal of corruption. Even from the earliest times the Fathers perceived how liable such devotions were to degenerate into an abuse. St. John Chrysostom, so ardent in his praise of pilgrimages, found it necessary to explain that there was “need for none to cross the seas or fare upon a long journey; let each of us at home invoke God earnestly and He will hear our prayer” (Ad pop. Antioch. horn. iii, 2, 49, in P.G., XLIX; cf. horn. iv, 6, 68). St. Gregory Nazianzen is even stronger in his condemnation. He has a short letter in which he speaks of those who regard it as an essential part of piety to visit Jerusalem and see the traces of the Passion of Christ. This, he says, the Master has never commanded, though the custom is not therefore without merit. But still he knows that in many cases the journey has proved a scandal and caused serious harm. He witnesses, therefore, both to the custom and the abuse, evidently thinking that the latter outweighed the former (Ep. ii, 1009, in P.G., XLVI). So again St. Jerome writes to Paulinus (Ep. lxviii in P.L., XXII) to explain, in an echo of Cicero’s phrase, that it is not the fact of living in Jerusalem, but of living there well, that is worthy of praise (579); he instances countless saints who never set foot in the Holy Land; and dares not tie down to one small portion of the Earth Him whom Heaven itself is unable to contain. He ends with a sentence that is by now famous, “et de Hierusolymis et de Britannia a qualiter patet aula caelestis” (581).
Another well-quoted passage comes from a letter of St. Augustine in which he expounds in happy paradox that not by journeying but by loving we draw nigh unto God. To Him who is everywhere present and everywhere entire we approach not by our feet but by our hearts (Ep. clv, 672, in P.L., XXXII). For certainly pilgrimages were not always undertaken for the best of motives. Glaber (ed. Prou, Paris, 1886, 107) thinks it necessary to note of Lethbald that he was far from being one of those who were led to Jerusalem simply from vanity, that they might have wonderful stories to tell, when they came back. Thus, as the centuries pass, we find human nature the same in its complexity of motives. Its noblest actions are found to be often caused by petty spites or vanity or overvaulting ambition; and even when begun in good faith as a source of devotion, the practices of piety at times are degraded into causes of vice. So the author of the “Imitation of Christ” raises his voice against overmuch pilgrimage-making: “Who wander much are but little hallowed.” Note too the words of the fifteenth-century English Dominican, John Bromyard (“Summa Praedicantium”, Tit. Feria n. 6, fol. 191, Lyons, 1522):—”There are some who keep their pilgrimages and festivals not for God but for the devil. They who sin more freely when away from home or who go on pilgrimage to succeed in inordinate and foolish love—those who spend their time on the road in evil and uncharitable conversation may indeed say peregrinamur a Domino—they make their pilgrimage away from God and to the devil.”
But the most splenetic scorn is to be found in the pages of that master of satire, Erasmus. His “Religious Pilgrimage” (“Colloquies” ed. Johnson, London, 1878, II, 1-37) is a terrible indictment of the abuses of his day. Exaggerated no doubt in its expressions, yetrevealing a sufficient modicum of real evil, it is a graphic picture from the hand of an intelligent observer. There is evident sign that pilgrimages were losing in popularity, not merely because the charity of many was growing cold, but because of the excessive credulity of the guardians of the shrines, their overwrought insistence on the necessityof pilgrimage-making, and the fact that many who journeyed from shrine to shrine neglected their domestic duties. These three evils are quaintly expressed in the above mentioned dialogue, with a liberty of speech that makes one astonished at Rome‘stoleration in the sixteenth century. With all these abuses Erasmus saw how the spoiler would have ready to hand excuses for suppressing the whole system and plundering the most attractive treasures. The wealth might well be put, he suggested, to other uses; butthe idea of a pilgrimage contained in it nothing opposed to the enlightened opinions of this prophet of “sweet reasonableness”. “If any shall do it of their own free choice from a great affection to piety, I think they deserve to be left to their own freedom” (op. cit., 35). This was evidently the opinion also of Henry VIII, for, though in the Injunctions of 1536and 1538 pilgrimages were to be discouraged, yet both in the bishop’s book (The Institution of the Christian Man, 1537) and the king’s book (The Necessary Doctrine and Erudition of the Christian Man, 1543), it is laid down that the abuse and not the custom is reprehensible. What they really attack is the fashion of “putting differences between image and image, trusting more in one than in another” (cf. Gairdner, “Lollardy and the Reformation“, II, London, 1908, IV, ii, 330, etc.). All this shows how alive Christendom has been to evils which Reformers are forever denouncing as inseparable from Catholicism. It admits the danger but does not allow it to prejudice the good use (“Diayloge of Syr Thomas More”, London, 1529). Before dealing with each pilgrimage in particular one further remark should be made. Though not properly included under a list of abuses, a custom must be noted of going in search of shrines utterly at haphazard and without any definite notion of where the journey was to end (Waterton, “Piet. March Britt.”, London, 1879, III, 107; “Anglo-Sax. Chron.”, tr. Thorpe in R. S., London, 1861, II, 69; Beazley, “Dawn of Mod. Geog.”, London, 1897-1906, I, 174-5; Tobl. Bibl. Geog. Pal. 26, ed. of 1876).
III. HISTORY IN PARTICULAR
—It will be necessary to mention and note briefly the chief places of Catholic pilgrimage, in early days, in the Middle Ages, and in modern times.
Aachen, Rhenish Prussia.—This celebrated city owes its fame as a center of pilgrimage to the extraordinary list of precious relics which it contains. Of their authenticity there is no need here to speak, but they include among a host of others, the swaddling clothes of the child Jesus, the loin-cloth which Our Lord wore on the Cross, the cloth on which the Baptist’s head lay after his execution, and the Blessed Virgin’s cloak. These relics are exposed to public veneration every seven years. The number of pilgrims in 1881 was 158,968 (Champagnac, “Dict. des pelerinages”, Paris, 1859, I, 78).
Alet, Limoux, France, contains a shrine of the Blessed Virgin dating traditionally from the twelfth century. The principal feast is celebrated on September 8, when there is still a great concourse of pilgrims from the neighborhood of Toulouse. It is the center of a confraternity of the Immaculate Heart of Mary founded for the conversion of sinners, the members of which exceed several thousands (Champagnac, II, 89).
Ambronay, Burgundy, France, an ancient shrine of the Blessed Virgin, dating back to the seventh century. It is still a center of pilgrimage.
Amorgos, or Margo, in the Greek Archipelago, has a quaint picture of the Blessed Virgin painted on wood, which is reputed to have been profaned and broken at Cyprus and then miraculously rejoined in its present shrine. Near by is enacted the pretended miracle of the Urne, so celebrated in the Archipelago (Champagnac, I, 129).
Ancona, Italy.—The Cathedral of St. Cyriacus contains a shrine of the Blessed Virgin which became famous only in 1796. On June 25 of that year, the eyes of the Madonna were seen filled with tears, which was later interpreted to have prefigured the calamities that fell on Pius VI and the Church in Italy owing to Napoleon. The picture was solemnly crowned by Pius VII on May 13, 1814, under the title “Regina Sanctorum Omnium” (Champagnac, I, 133; Anon., “Pelerinages aux sanct. de la mere de Dieu”, Paris, 1840).
Anges, Seine-et-Oise, France.—The present chapel only dates from 1808; but the pilgrimage is really ancient. In connection with the shrine is a spring of miraculous water (Champagnac, I, 146).
Arcachon, Gironde, France.—It is curious among the shrines of the Blessed Virgin as containing an alabaster statue of the thirteenth century. Pius IX granted to this statue the honor of coronation in 1870, since which time pilgrimages to it have greatly increased in number and in frequency.
Ardilliers, Saumur, France.—A chapel of the Blessed Virgin founded on the site of an ancient monastery. It has been visited by famous French pilgrims such as Anne of Austria, Louis XIII, Henrietta Maria, etc. The sacristy was built by Cesare, Duke of Vendome, and in 1634 Cardinal Richelieu added a chapel (Champagnac, I, 169).
Argenteuil, Seine-et-Oise, France, is one of the places which boasts of possessing the Holy Coat of Jesus Christ. Its abbey was also well known as having had as abbess the famous Heloise. Whatever may be thought of the authenticity of the relic, the antiquity of pilgrimages drawn to its veneration dates from its presentation to St. Louis in 1247. From the pilgrimage of Queen Blanche in 1255 till our own day there has been an almost uninterrupted flow of visitors. The present chasse was the gift of the Duchess of Guise in 1680 (Champagnac, I, 171-223).
Aubervilles, Seine, France, an ancient place of pilgrimage from Paris. It is mentioned in the Calendars of that diocese under the title of Notre-Dame-des-Vertus, and its feast was celebrated annually on the second Tuesday in May. An early list of miraculous cures performed under the invocation of this Madonna was printed at Paris in 1617 (Champagnac, I, 246).
Auriesville, Montgomery Co., New York, U.S.A., is the center of one of the great pilgrimages of the New World. It is the scene of martyrdom of three Jesuit missionaries by Mohawk Indians; but the chapel erected on the spot has been dedicated to Our Lady of Martyrs, presumably because the cause of the beatification of the three fathers is as yet uncompleted. August 15 is the chief day of pilgrimage; but the practice of visiting Auriesville increases yearly in frequency, and lasts intermittently throughout the whole summer (Wynne, “A Shrine in the Mohawk Valley”, New York, 1905; Gerard in “The Month”, March, 1874, 306).
Bailleul-le-Soc, Oise, France, possesses a chapel dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, dating from the reign of Louis XIV. It has received no episcopal authorization, and in fact was condemned by the Bishop of Beauvais, Msgr. de Saint-Aignan, February 24, 1716. This was in consequence of the pilgrimage which sprang up, of visiting a well of medicinal waters. Owing to its health-giving properties, it was called Saine-Fontaine, but, by the superstition of the people, who at once invented a legend to account for it, this was quickly changed to Sainte-Fontaine. It is still a place of veneration; and pilgrims go to drink the waters of the so-called holy well (Champagnac, I, 264).
Betharram, Basses-Pyrenees, France, one of the oldest shrines in all France, the very name of which dates from the Saracenic occupation of the country. A legend puts back the foundation into the fourth century, but this is certainly several hundred years too early. In much more recent times a calvary, with various stations, has been erected and has brought back the flow of pilgrims. The Basque population round about knows it as one of its most sacred centers (Champagnac, I, 302-11).
Boher, near Leith Abbey, King’s Co., Ireland, contains the relics of St. Manchan, probably the abbot who died in 664. The present shrine is of twelfth-century work and is very well preserved considering its great age and the various calamities through which it has passed. Pilgrimages to it are organized from time to time, but on no very considerable scale (Wall, “Shrines of British Saints”, 83-7).
Bonaria, Sardinia, is celebrated for its statue of Our Lady of Mercy. It is of Italian workmanship, probably about 1370, and came miraculously to Bonaria, floating on the waters. Every Saturday local pilgrim-ages were organized; but today it is rather as an object of devotion to the fisherfolk that the shrine is popular (Champagnac, I, 1130-1).
Boulogne, France, has the remains of a famous statue that has been a center of pilgrimage for many centuries. The early history of the shrine is lost in the legends of the seventh century. But whatever was the origin of its foundation there has always been a close connection between this particular shrine and the seafaring population on both sides of the Channel. In medieval France the pilgrimage to it was looked upon as so recognized a form of devotion that not a few judicial sentences are recorded as having been commuted into visits to Notre-Dame-de-Boulognesur-mer. Besides several French monarchs, Henry III visited the shrine in 1255, the Black Prince and John of Gaunt in 1360, and later Charles the Bold of Burgundy. So, too, in 1814 Louis XVIII gave thanks for his restoration before this same statue. The devotion of Our Lady of Boulogne has been in France and England increased by the official recognition of the Archconfraternity of Our Lady of Compassion, established at this shrine, the object of which is to pray for the return of the English people to the Faith (Champagnac, I, 342-62; Hales in “Academy”, April 22, 1882, 287).
Bruges, Belgium, has its famous relic of the Holy Blood which is the center of much pilgrimage. This was brought from Palestine by Thierry of Alsace on his return from the Second Crusade. From April 7, 1150, this relic has been venerated with much devotion. The annual pilgrimage, attended by the Flemish nobility in their quaint robes and thousands of pilgrims from other parts of Christendom, takes place on the Monday following the first Sunday in May, when the relic is carried in procession. But every Friday the relic is less solemnly exposed for the veneration of the faithful (Smith, “Bruges“, London, 1901, passim; cf. “Tablet”, LXXXIII, 817).
Buglose, Landes, France, was for long popular as a place of pilgrimage to a statue of the Blessed Virgin; but it is perhaps as much visited now as the birthplace of St. Vincent de Paul. The house where he was born and where he spent his boyhood is still shown (Champagnac, I, 374-90).
Canterbury, Kent, England, was in medieval times the most famous of English shrines. First as the birthplace of Saxon Christianity and as holding the tomb of St. Augustine; secondly as the scene of the martyrdom of St. Thomas Becket, it fitly represented the ecclesiastical center of England. But even from beyond the island, men and women trooped to the shrine of the “blissful martyr”, especially at the great pardons or jubilees of the feast every fifty years from 1220 to 1520; his death caused his own city to become, what Winchester had been till then, the spiritual center of England (Belloc, “The Old Road”, London, 1904, 43). The spell of his name in his defense of the spirituality lay so strongly on the country that Henry VIII had to make a personal attack on the dead saint before he could hope to arrogate himself full ecclesiastical authority. The poetry of Chaucer, the wealth of England, the crown jewels of France, and marble from ruins of ancient Carthage (a papal gift) had glorified the shrine of St. Thomas beyond compare; and the pilgrim signs which are continually being discovered all over England and even across the Channel (“Guide to Mediaeval Room, British Museum”, London, 1907, 69-71) emphasize the popularity of this pilgrimage. The precise time of the year for visiting Canterbury seems difficult to determine (Belloc, ibid., 54), for Chaucer says spring, the Continental traditions imply winter, and the chief gatherings of which we have any record point to the summer. It was probably determined by the feasts of the saint and the seasons of the year. The place of the martyrdom has once more become a center of devotion, mainly through the action of the Guild of Ransom (Wall, “Shrines”, 152-171; Belloc, op. cit.; Danks, “Canterbury”, London, 1910).
Carmel, Palestine, has been for centuries a sacred mountain, both for the Hebrew people and for Christians. The Mohammedans also regard it with devotion, and from the eighteenth century onwards have joined with Christians and Jews in celebrating the feast of Elias in the mountain that bears his name.
Ceylon may be mentioned as possessing a curious place of pilgrimage, Adam Peak. On the summit of this mountain is a certain impression which the Mohammedans assert to be the footprint of Adam, the Brahmins that of Rama, the Buddhists that of Buddha, the Chinese that of Fo, and the Christians of India that of St. Thomas the Apostle (Champagnac, I, 446).
Chartres is in many respects the most wonderful sanctuary in Europe dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, as it boasts of an uninterrupted tradition from the times of the druids who dedicated there a statue virgini pariturce. This wooden statue is said to have been still existing in 1793, but to have been destroyed during the Revolution. Moreover, to enhance the sacredness of the place a relic was preserved, presented by Charlemagne, viz., the chemise or veil of the Blessed Virgin. Whatever may be the history or authenticity of the relic itself, it certainly is of great antiquity and resembles the veils now worn by women in the East. A third source of devotion is the present stone image of the Blessed Virgin inaugurated with great pomp in 1857. The pilgrimages to this shrine at Chartres have naturally been frequent and of long continuance. Amongst others who have taken part in these visits of devotion were popes, kings of France and England, saints like Bernard of Clairvaux, Anselm of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, Vincent de Paul, and Francis de Sales, and the hapless Mary Queen of Scots. There is, moreover, an annual procession to the shrine on March 15 (Champagnac, I, 452-60; North-cote, “Sanct. of the Madonna”, London, 1868, IV,169-77; Chabarmes, “Hist. de N.—D. de Chartres”, Chartres, 1873).
Chichester, Sussex, England, had in its cathedral the tomb of St. Richard, its renowned bishop. The throng of pilgrims to this shrine, made famous by the devotion of Edward I, was so great that the body was dismembered so as to make three separate stations. Even then, in 1478, Bishop Storey had to draw up stringent rules so that the crowd should approach in a more seemly manner. Each parish was to enter at the west door in the prescribed order, of which notice had to be given by the parish priests in their churches on the Sunday preceding the feast. Besides April 3, another pilgrimage was made on Whit-Sunday (Wall, 126-31).
Cologne, Rhenish Germany, as a city of pilgrimage centers round the shrine of the Three Kings. The relics are reputed to have been brought by St. Helena to Constantinople, to have been transferred thence to Milan, and evidently in the twelfth century to have been carried in triumph by Frederick Barbarossa to Cologne. The present chase is considered the most remarkable example extant of the medieval goldsmith’s art. Though of old reckoned as one of the four greater pilgrimages, it seems to have lost the power of attracting huge crowds out of devotion; though many, no doubt, are drawn to it by its splendor (Champagnac, I, 482).
Compostella, Spain, has long been famous as containing the shrine of St. James the Greater (q. v., where the authenticity of the relics etc. is discussed at some length). In some senses this was the most renowned medieval pilgrimage; and the custom of those who bore back with them from Galicia scallop shells as proofs of their journey gradually extended to every form of pilgrimage. The old feast-day of St. James (August 5) is still celebrated by the boys of London with their grottos of oyster shells. The earliest records of visits paid to this shrine date from the eighth century; and even in recent years the custom has been enthusiastically observed (cf. Rymer, “Fcedera”, London, 1710, XI, 371, 376, etc.).
Concepcion, Chile, has a pilgrimage to a shrine of the Blessed Virgin that is perhaps unique, a rock-drawn figure of the Mother of God. It was discovered by a child in the eighteenth century and was for long popular among the Chilians.
Cordova, Spain, possesses a curious Madonna which was originally venerated at Villa Viciosa in Portugal. Because of the neglect into which it had fallen, a pious shepherd carried it off to Cordova, whence the Portuguese endeavored several times to recover it, being frustrated each time by a miraculous intervention (Champagnac, I, 525).
Cracow, Poland, is said to possess a miraculous statue of the Blessed Virgin brought to it by St. Hyacinth, to which in times past pilgrimages were often made (Acta SS., August, III, 317-41).
Croyland, Lincolnshire, England, was the center of much pilgrimage at the shrine of St. Guthlac, due principally to the devotion of King Wiglaf of Mercia (Wall, 116-8).
Czenstochowa, Poland, is the most famous of Polish shrines dedicated to the Mother of God, where a picture painted on cypress-wood and attributed to St. Luke is publicly venerated. This is reputed to be the richest sanctuary in the world. A copy of the picture has been set up in a chapel of St. Roch’s church by the Poles in Paris (Champagnac, I, 540).
Downpatrick, County Down, Ireland, is the most sacred city of Ireland in that the bodies of Ireland‘s highest saints were there interred.
“In the town of Down, buried in one grave
Bridget, Patrick, and the pious Columba.”
Nothing need be said here about the relics of these saints; it is sufficient merely to hint at the pilgrim-ages that made this a center of devotion (Wall, 31-2).
Drumlane, Ireland, was at one time celebrated as containing the relics of S. Moedoc in the famous Breac Moedoc. This shrine was in the custody of the local priest till 1846, when it was borrowed and sold to a Dublin jeweller, from whom in turn it was bought by Dr. Petrie. It is now in the museum of the Royal Irish Academy (Wall, 80-3).
Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland, was the resort of countless pilgrims, for in the abbey was the shrine of St. Margaret. She was long regarded as the most popular of Scottish saints and her tomb was the most revered in all that kingdom. Out of devotion to her, Dunfermline succeeded Iona as being the burial place of the kings (Wall, 48-50).
Durham, England, possessed many relics which drew to it the devotion of many visitors. But its two chief shrines were those of St. Cuthbert and St. Bede. The former was enclosed in a gorgeous reliquary, which was put in its finished state by John, Lord Nevill of Raby, in 1372. Some idea may be had of the number of pilgrims from the amount put by the poorer ones into the money-box that stood close by. The year 1385-6 yielded £63 17s. 8d. which would be equivalent in our money to £1277 13s. 4d. A dispute rages round the present relics of St. Cuthbert, and there is also some uncertainty about the body of St. Bede (Wall, 176-207, 110-6).
Edmundsbury, Suffolk, England, sheltered in its abbey church the shrine of St. Edmund, king and martyr. Many royal pilgrims from King Canute to Henry VI knelt and made offerings at the tomb of the saint; and the common people crowded there in great numbers because of the extraordinary miracles worked by the holy martyr (Wall, 216-23; Mackinlay, “St. Edmund King and Martyr“, London, 1893; Snead-Cox, “Life of Cardinal Vaughan”, London, 1910, II, 287-94).
Einsiedeln, Schwyz, Switzerland, has been a place of pilgrimage since Leo VIII in 954. The reason of this devotion is a miraculous statue of the Blessed Virgin brought by St. Meinrad from Zurich. The saint was murdered in 861 by robbers who coveted the rich offerings which already at that early date were left by the pilgrims. The principal days for visiting the shrine are September 14 and October 13; it is calculated that the yearly number of pilgrims exceeds 150,000. Even Protestants from the surrounding cantons are known to have joined the throng of worshippers (Northcote, “Sanctuaries”, 122-32).
Ely, Cambridgeshire, England, was the center of a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Etheldreda. One of her hands is still preserved in a shrine in the (pre-Reformation) Catholic church dedicated to her in London (Wall, 55-6).
Ephesus, Asia Minor, is the center of two devotions, one to the mythical Seven Sleepers, the other to the Mother of God, who lived here some years under the care of St. John. Here also it was that the Divine maternity of Our Lady was proclaimed, by the Third Ecumenical Council, A.D. 491 (“Pelerinages aux sanct. de la mere de Dieu”, Paris, 1840, 119-32; Champagnac, I, 608-19).
Evreux, Eure, France, has a splendid cathedral dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, but the pilgrimage to it dates only from modern times (Champagnac, I, 641).
Faviers, Seine-et-Oise, France, is the center of a pilgrimage to the church of St. Sulpice, where there are relics of the saint. St. Louis IX paid his homage at the shrine; and even now, from each parish of St. Sulpice (a common dedication among French churches) deputies come here annually on pilgrimage for the three Sundays following the feast which occurs on August 27 (Champagnac, I, 646-7).
Garaison, Tarbes, France, was the scene of an apparition of Our Lady to a shepherdess of twelve years old, Aglese de Sagasan, early in the sixteenth century. The sanctuary was dedicated afresh after the Revolution and is once more thronged with pilgrims. The chief festival is celebrated on September 8 (Champagnac, I, 95-9).
Genezzano, Italy, contains the miraculous picture of Our Lady of Good Counsel which is said to have been translated from Albania. It has, since its arrival April 25, 1467, been visited by popes, cardinals, kings, and by countless throngs of pilgrims; and devotion to the shrine steadily increases (Northcote, “Sanctuaries”, 15-24).
Glastonbury, Somerset, England, has been a holy place for many centuries and round it cluster legends and memories, such as no other shrine in England can boast. The Apostles, St. Joseph of Arimathea, Sts. Patrick and David, and King Arthur begin the astonishing cycle which is continued by names like St. Dunstan, etc. The curious thorn which blossomed twice yearly, in May and at Christmastide, also proved an attraction for pilgrims, though the story of its miraculous origin does not seem to go back much before the sixteenth century. A proof of the devotion which the abbey inspired is seen in the “Pilgrim’s Inn,” a building of late fifteenth century work in the Perpendicular style yet standing in the town (Marson, “Glastonbury. The English Jerusalem“, Bath, 1909).
Grace, Lot-et-Garonne, France, used to be the seat of an ancient statue of the Blessed Virgin which entered the town in a miraculous fashion. It was enshrined in a little chapel perched on the bridge that spans the river Lot. Hence its old name, Nostro Damo del cap del Pount. Even now some pilgrimages are made to the restored shrine (Champagnac, I, 702-5).
Grottaferrata, Campagna, Italy, a famous monastery of the Greek Rite, takes its name (traditionally) from a picture of the Madonna found, protected by a grille, in a grotto. It is still venerated in the abbey church and is the center of a local pilgrimage (Champagnac, I, 714-15).
Guadalupe, Estradamura, Spain, is celebrated for its wonderworking statue of the Blessed Virgin. But it has been outshone by another shrine of the same name in Mexico, which has considerably gained in importance as the center of pilgrimage. As a sanctuary the latter takes the place of one dedicated to an old pagan goddess who was there worshipped. The story of the origin of this shrine (see Shrine of Guadalupe) is astonishing.
Hal, Belgium, contains a wooden statue of the Blessed Virgin which is decorated with a golden crown. It has been described by Justus Lipsius in his “Diva Virgo Hallensis” (“Omnia Opera”, Antwerp, 1637, III, 687-719); as a place of pilgrimage, it has been famous in all Europe and has received gifts from many noble pilgrims. The monstrance given by Henry VIII was lent for use during the Eucharistic Congress in London in 1909. The miracles recorded are certainly wonderful.
Holywell, North Wales, still draws large bodies of pilgrims by its wonderful cures. It has done so continuously for over a thousand years, remaining the one active example of what were once very common (Holy Wells. Chalmers, “Book of Days”, II, 6-8). The well is dedicated to St. Winefride and is said to mark the spot of her martyrdom in 634 (Maher, “Holy-well in 1894” in “The Month”, February, 1895, 153).
Iona, Scotland, though not properly, until recently, a place of pilgrimage, can hardly be omitted with propriety from this list. The mention of it is sufficient to recall memories of its crowded tombs of kings, chieftains, prelates, which witness to the honor in which is was held as the Holy Island (Trenholme, “Story of Iona”, Edinburgh, 1909).
Jerusalem, Palestine, was in many ways the origin of all pilgrimages. It is the first spot to which the Christian turned with longing eyes. The earliest recorded pilgrimages go back to the third century with the mention of Bishop Alexander; then in the fourth century came the great impulse given by the Empress Helena who was followed by the Bordeaux Pilgrims and the “Peregrinatio Silvise” and others (cf. Acta SS., June, III, 176; September, III, 56). The action of St. Jerome and his aristocratic lady friends made the custom fashionable and the Latin colony was established by them which made it continuous (Gregory of Tours, “Hist. Franc.”, Paris, 1886, ed. by Omont, II, 68; V, 181; etc.). So too comes the visit of Arculf, cited by St. Bede (“Eccl. Hist.”, V, xv, 263, ed. Giles, London, 1847) from the writings of Adamnan; of Cadoc the Welsh bishop mentioned below (cf. St. Andrews); of Probus sent by Gregory I to establish a hospice in Jerusalem (Acta SS., March, II, § 23, 150, 158a, etc.). There are also the legendary accounts of King Arthur’s pilgrimage, and that of Charlemagne (Paris, “Romania”, 1880, 1-50; 1902, 404, 616, 618). Afew notices occur of the same custom in the tenth century (Beazley, II, 123), but there is a lull in these visits to Jerusalem till the eleventh century. Then, at once, a new stream begins to pour over to the East at times in small numbers, as Foulque of Nerra in 1011, Meingoz took with him only Simon the Hermit, and Ulric, later prior of Zell, was accompanied by one who could chant the psalms with him; at times also in huge forces as in 1026 under Richard II of Normandy, in 1033 a record number (Glaber, Paris, 1886, IV, 6,106, ed. Prou), in 1035 another under Robert the Devil (ibid., 128), and most famous of all in 1065 that under Gunther, Bishop of Bamberg, with twelve thousand pilgrims (Lambert of Gersfield, “Mon. Germ. Hist.”, Hanover, 1844, V, 169). This could only lead to the Crusades which stamped the Holy Land on the memory and heart of Christendom. The number who took the Cross seems fabulous (cf . Giraldus Cambrensis, “Itin. Cambrise”, II, xiii, 147, in R. S., ed. Dimock, 1868); and many who could not go themselves left instructions for their hearts to be buried there (cf. Hovenden, “Annals”, ed. Stubbs, 1869, in R. S., II, 279; “Chron. de Froissart”, Bouchon, 1853, Paris, 1853, I, 47; cf. 35-7). So eager were men to take the Cross, that some even branded or cut its mark upon them (“Miracula s. Thom”, by Abbot Benedict, ed. Giles, 186) or “with a sharpe knyfe he share, A crosse upon his shoulder bare” (“Syr Isenbras” in Utterson, “Early Pop. Poetry”, London, 1817, I, 83). From the twelfth century onwards the flow is uninterrupted, Russians (Beazley, II, 156), Northerners (II, 174), Jews (218-74), etc. And the end is not yet (“Itinera hierosolymitana sseculi IV—VIII”, ed. Geyer in the “Corp. script. eccl. lat.”, 39, Vienna, 1898; Palestine Pilg. Text Soc., London, 1884 sqq.; “Deutsche Pilgerreisen nach dem heiligen Lande”, II, Innsbruck, 1900, etc.; Brehier, “L’eglise et l’Orient au moyen-Age”, Paris, 1907, 10-15, 42-50).
Kavelaer, Guelders, is a daughter-shrine to the Madonna of Luxemburg, a copy of which was here enshrined in 1642 and continues to attract pilgrims (Champagnac, I, 875).
La Quercia, Viterbo, Italy, is celebrated for its quaint shrine. Within the walls of a church built by Bramante is a tabernacle of marble that enfolds the wonderworking image, painted of old by Batiste Juzzante and hung up for protection in an oak. A part of the oak still survives within the shrine, which boasts, as of old, its pilgrims (Mortier, “Notre Dame de la Quercia”, Florence, 1904).
La Salette, Dauphiny, France, is one of the places where the Blessed Virgin is said to have appeared in the middle of the nineteenth century. This is no place to discuss the authenticity of the apparition. As a place of pilgrimage it dates from September 19, 1846, immediately after which crowds began to flock to the shrine. The annual number of visitors is computed to be about 30,000 (Northcote, “Sanctuaries”, 178-229).
La Sarte, Huy, Belgium, boasts a shrine of the Blessed Virgin that dominates the surrounding country. Perched on the top of a hill, past a long avenue of wayside chapels, is the statue found by chance in 1621. Year by year during May countless pilgrims organized in parishes climb the steep ascent in increasing numbers (Halflants, “Hist. de N.—D. de la Sarte”, Huy, 1871).
Laus, Hautes-Alpes, France, is one of the many seventeenth-century shrines of the Blessed Virgin. There is the familiar story of an apparition to a shepherdess with a command to found a church. So popular has this shrine be come that the annual number of pilgrims is said to be close on 80,000. The chief pilgrimage times are Pentecost and throughout October (Northcote, “Sanctuaries”, 146-59).
Le Puy, Haute-Loire, France, boasts the earliest scene of any of the Blessed Virgin’s apparitions. Its legend begins about the year 50. After the Crusades had commenced, Puy-Notre-Dame became famous as a sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin throughout all Christendom. Its great bishop, Adhemar of Montheil, was the first to take the Cross, and he journeyed to Jerusalem with Godfrey de Bouillon as legate of the Holy See. The “Salve Regina” is by some attributed to him, and was certainly often known as the “Anthem of Puy”. Numberless French kings, princes, and nobles have venerated this sanctuary; St. Louis IX presented it with a thorn from the Sacred Crown. The pilgrimages that we read of in connection with this shrine must have been veritable pageants, for the crowds, even as late as 1853, exceeded 300,000 in number (Northcote, “Sanctuaries”, 160-9).
Lichfield, Staffordshire, England, is one of the places of pilgrimage which has ceased to be a center of devotion; for the relics of St. Chad, cast out of their tomb by Protestant fanaticism, have now found a home in a Catholic church (the Birmingham cathedral), and it is to the new shrine that the pilgrims turn (Wall, 97-102).
Liesse, Picardy, France, was before the rise of Lourdes the most famous center in France of pilgrim-age to the Blessed Virgin. The date of its foundation is pushed back to the twelfth century and the quaint story of its origin connects it with Christian captives during the Crusades. Its catalogue of pilgrims reads like an “Almanach de Gotha”; but the numberless unnamed pilgrims testify even more to its popularity. It is still held in honor (Champagnac, I, 918-22).
Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England, in its splendid cathedral guarded the relics of its bishop, St. Hugh. At the entombment in 1200, two kings and sixteen bishops, at the translation in 1280, one king, two queens, and many prelates took part. The inflow of pilgrims was enormous every year till the great spoliation under Henry VIII (Wall, 130-40).
Loges, Seine-et-Oise, France, was a place much frequented by pilgrims because of the shrine of St. Fiacre, an Irish solitary. In 1615 it became, after a lapse of some three centuries, once more popular, for Louis XIII paid several visits there. Among other famous worshippers were James II and his queen from their place of exile at St.-Germain. The chief day of pilgrimage was the feast of St. Stephen, protomartyr (December 26). It was suppressed in 1744 (Champagnac, I, 934-5).
Loreto, Ancona, Italy, owing to the ridicule of one half of the world and the devotion of the other half, is too well-known to need more than a few words. Nor is the authenticity of the shrine to be here at all discussed. As a place of pilgrimage it will be sufficient to note that Dr. Stanley, an eyewitness, pronounced it to be “undoubtedly the most frequented shrine in Christendom” (Northcote, “Sanctuaries”, 65-106; Dolan in “The Month”, August, 1894, 545; cf. ibid., February, 1867, 178-83).
Lourdes, Pyrenees, France, as a center of pilgrimage is without a rival in popularity throughout the world. A few statistics are all that shall be recorded here. From 1867 to 1903 inclusively 4271 pilgrimages passed to Lourdes numbering some 387,000 pilgrims; the last seven years of this period average 150 pilgrim-ages annually. Again within thirty-six years (1868 to 1904) 1643 bishops (including 63 cardinals) have visited the grotto; and the Southern Railway Company reckon that Lourdes station receives over a million travellers every year (Bertrin, “Lourdes”, tr. Gibbs, London, 1908; “The Month”, October, 1905, 359; February, 1907, 124).
Luxemburg possesses a shrine of the Blessed Virgin under the title of “Consoler of the Afflicted”. It was erected by the Jesuit Fathers and has become much frequented by pious pilgrims from all the country round. The patronal feast is the first Sunday of July, and on that day and the succeeding octave the chapel is crowded. Whole villages move up, headed by their parish priests; and the number of the faithful who frequent the sacraments here is sufficient justification for the numerous indulgences with which this sanctuary is enriched (Champagnac, I, 985-95).
Lyons, Rhone, France, boasts a well-known pilgrim-age to Notre-Dame-de-Fourvieres. This shrine is supposed to have taken the place of a statue of Mercury in the forum of Old Lugdunum. But the earliest chapel was utterly destroyed by the Calvinists in the sixteenth century and again during the Revolution. The present structure dates from the reinauguration by Pius VII in person, April 19, 1805. It is well to remember that Lyons was ruled by St. Irenaeus who was famed for his devotion to the Mother of God (Champagnac, I, 997-1014).
Malacca, Malay Peninsula, was once possessed of a shrine set up by St. Francis Xavier, dedicated under the title Our Lady of the Mount. It was for some years after his death (and he was buried in this chapel, before the translation of his relics to Goa, cf. “The Tablet”, December 31, 1910, p. 1055), a center of pilgrimage. When Malacca passed from Portuguese to Dutch rule, the exercise of the Catholic religion was forbidden, and the sanctuary became a ruin (Champagnac, I, 1023-5).
Mantua, Lombardy, Italy, has outside the city walls a beautiful church, S. Maria delle Grazie, dedicated by the noble house of Gonzaga to the Mother of God. It enshrines a picture of the Madonna painted on wood and attributed to St. Luke. Pius II, Charles V, the Constable of Bourbon are among the many pilgrims who have visited this sanctuary. The chief season of pilgrimage is about the feast of the Assumption (August 15), when it is computed that over one hundred thousand faithful have some years attended the devotions (Champagnac, I, 1042).
Maria-Stein, near Basle, Switzerland, is the center of a pilgrimage. An old statue of the Blessed Virgin, no doubt the treasure of some unknown hermit, is famed for its miracles. To it is attached a Benedictine monastery—a daughter-house to Einsiedeln (Charnpagnac, I, 1044).
Mariazell, Styria, a quaint village, superbly situated but badly built, possesses a tenth-century statue of the Madonna. To it have come almost all the Habsburgs on pilgrimage, and Maria Theresa left there, after her visit, medallions of her husband and her children. From all the country round, from Carinthia, Bohemia, and the Tyrol, the faithful flock to the shrine during June and July. The Government used to decree the day on which the pilgrims from Vienna were to meet in the capital at the old Cathedral of St. Stephen and set out in ordered bands for their four days’ pilgrimage (Champagnac, I, 1045-7).
Marseilles, France, as a center of pilgrimage has a noble shrine, Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde. Its chapel, on a hill beyond the city, dominates the neighborhood, where is the statue, made by Channel in 1836 to take the place of an older one destroyed during the Revolution (Champagnac, I, 1055).
Mauriac, Cantal, France, is visited because of the thirteenth-century shrine dedicated to Notre-Damedes-Miracles. The statue is of wood, quite black. The pilgrimage day is annually celebrated on May 9 (Champagnac, I, 1062).
Messina, Sicily, the luckless city of earthquake, has a celebrated shrine of the Blessed Virgin. It was peculiar among all shrines in that it was supposed to contain a letter written or rather dictated by the Mother of God, congratulating the people of Messina on their conversion to Christianity. During the destruction of the city in 1908, the picture was crushed in the fallen cathedral (Thurston in “The Tablet”, January 23, 1909, 123-5).
Montaigu, Belgium, is perhaps the most celebrated of Belgian shrines raised to the honor of the Blessed Virgin. All the year round pilgrimages are made to the statue; and the number of offerings day by day is extraordinary.
Montmartre, Seine, France, has been for centuries a place of pilgrimage as a shrine of the Mother of God. St. Ignatius came here with his first nine companions to receive their vows on August 15, 1534. But it is famous now rather as the center of devotion to the Sacred Heart, since the erection of the National Basilica there after the war of 1870 (Champagnac, I, 1125-46).
Montpellier, Herault, France, used to possess a famous statue of black wood—Notre-Dame-des-Tables. Hidden for long within a silver statue of the Blessed Virgin, life-size, it was screened from public view, till it was stolen by the Calvinists and has since disappeared from history. From 1189 the feast of the Miracles of Mary was celebrated with special Office at Montpellier on September 1, and throughout an octave (Champagnac, I, 1147).
Mont St-Michel, Normandy, is the quaintest, most beautiful, and interesting of shrines. For long it was the center of a famous pilgrimage to the great arch-angel, whose power in times of war and distress was earnestly implored. Even today a few bands of peasants, and here and there a devout pilgrim, come amid the crowds of visitors to honor St. Michael as of old (Champagnac, I, 1151).
Montserrat, Spain, lifts itself above the surrounding country in the same way as it towers above other Spanish centers of pilgrimage to the Blessed Virgin. Its existence can be traced to the tenth century, but it was not a center of much devotion till the thirteenth. The present church was only consecrated on February 2, 1562. It is still much sought after in pilgrim-age (Champagnac, I, 1152-73).
Naples, Italy, is a city which has been for many centuries and for many reasons a center of pilgrimage. Two famous shrines there are the Madonna del Carmine and Santa Maria della Grotta (Northcote, “Sanctuaries”, 107-21; see also Saint Januarius).
Oostacker, Ghent, Belgium, is one of the famous daughter-shrines of Lourdes. Built in imitation of that sanctuary and having some of the Lourdes water in the pool of the grotto, it has almost rivalled its parent in the frequency of its cures. Its inauguration began with a body of 2000 pilgrims, July 29, 1875, since which time there has been a continuous stream of devout visitors. One has only to walk out there from Ghent on an ordinary afternoon to see many worshippers, men, women, whole parishes with their cures, etc. kneeling before the shrine or chanting before the Blessed Sacrament in the church (Scheerlinck, “Lourdes en Flandre”, Ghent, 1876).
Oxford, England, contained one of the premier shrines of Britain, that of St. Frideswide. Certainly her relics were worthy of grateful veneration, especially to Oxford dwellers, for it is to her that the city and university alike appear to owe their existence. Her tomb (since restored at great pains, 1890) was the resort of many pilgrims. Few English kings cared to enter Oxford at all; but the whole university, twice a year, i.e. mid-Lent and Ascension Day, headed by the chancellor, came in solemn procession to offer their gifts. The Catholics of the city have of late years reorganized the pilgrimage on the saint’s feast-day, October 19 (Wall, 63-71).
Padua, Italy, is the center of a pilgrimage to the relics of St. Anthony. In a vast choir behind the sanctuary of the church that bears his name is the treasury of St. Anthony; but his body reposes under the high altar. Devotion to this saint has increased so enormously of late years that no special days seem set apart for pilgrimages. They proceed continuously all the year round (Cherance, “St. Anthony of Padua“, tr. London, 1900).
Pennant Melangell, Montgomery, Wales, to judge from the sculptured fragments of stone built into the walls of the church and lych gate, was evidently a place of note, where a shrine was built to St. Melangell, a noble Irish maiden. The whole structure as restored stands over eight feet high and originally stood in the Cell-y-Bedd, or Cell of the Grave, and was clearly a center of pilgrimage (Wall, 48).
Pontigny, Yvonne, France, was for many centuries a place of pilgrimage as containing the shrine of St. Edmund of Canterbury. Special facilities were allowed by the French king for English pilgrims. The Huguenots despoiled the shrine, but the relics were saved to be set up again in a massive chase of eighteenth-century workmanship. In spite of the troubles in France the body remains in its old position, and is even carefully protected by the Government (Wall, 171-5).
Puche, Valencia, Spain, is the great Spanish sanctuary dedicated to Our Lady of Mercy, in honor of whom the famous Order of Mercy came into being through Spanish saints. The day of pilgrimage was the feast of Our Lady of Mercy, September 24 (Champagnac, II, 488-92).
Rocamadour, Lot, France, was the center of much devotion as a shrine of the Blessed Virgin. Amongst its pilgrims may be named St. Dominic; and the heavy mass of iron hanging outside the chapel witnesses to the legendary pilgrimage of Roland, whose good sword Durendal was deposited there till it wasstolen with the other treasures by Henry II‘s turbulent eldest son, Henry Court Mantel (Drane, “Hist. of St. Dominic”, London, 1891, 302-10; Laporte, “Guide du pelerin a Rocamadour“, Rocamadour, 1862).
Rocheville, Toulouse, France.—The legend of its origin fixes the date of its apparition of the Blessed Virgin as 1315. Long famous, then long neglected, it has once more been restored. During the octave of the Nativity of Our Lady (8—September 15) it is visited by quite a large body of devout pilgrims (Champagnac, II, 101).
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, contains a sanctuary dedicated to Our Lady of Travel. This statue is in a convent of nuns situated just outside the city, on the east of the bay. It is devoutly venerated by the pious people of Brazil, who invoke the protection of the Blessed Virgin on their journeys (Champagnac, II, 517-8).
Rome, Italy, has had almost as much influence on the rise of Christian pilgrimages as the Holy Land. The sacred city of the Christian world, where lay the bodies of the twin prince Apostles, attracted the love of every pious Christian. We have quoted the words of St. Chrysostom who yearned to see the relics of St. Paul; and his desire has been expressed in action in every age of Christian time. The early records of every nation (of the histories of Eusebius, Zosimus, Socrates, Bede, etc. passim) give name after name of bishop, king, noble, priest, layman who have journeyed to visit as pilgrims the limina Apostolorum. Full to repletion as the city is with relics of Christian holiness, the “rock on which the Church is built” has been the chief attraction; and Bramante has well made it the center of his immortal temple. Thus St. Marcius came with his wife Martha and his two sons all the way from Persia in 269; St. Paternus from Alexandria in 253; St. Maurus from Africa in 284. Again Sts. Constantine and Victorian on their arrival at Rome went straight to the tomb of St. Peter, where soldiers caught them and put them to death. So also St. Zoe was found praying at the tomb of St. Peter and martyred. Even then in these early days the practice of pilgrimages was in full force, so that the danger of death did not deter men from it (Barnes, “St. Peter in Rome“, London, 1900, 146). Then to overleap the centuries we find records of the Saxon and Danish kings of England trooping Romewards, so that the very name of Rome has become a verb to express the idea of wandering (Low Lat., romerus; Old Fr., romieu; Sp., romero; Port., romeiro; A. S., romaign; M. E., romen; Modern, roam). And of the Irish, the same uninterrupted custom has held good till our own day (Ulster Archaeolog. Jour., VII, 238-42). Of the other nations there is no need to speak.
It is curious, however, to note that though the chief shrine of Rome was undoubtedly the tomb of the Apostles—to judge from all the extant records—yet the pilgrim sign (see below) which most commonly betokened a palmer from Rome was the “vernicle” or reproduction of St. Veronica’s veil. Thus Chaucer (Bell’s edition, London, 1861, 105) describes the pardoner:
“That strait was comen from the Court of Rome
A vernicle had he served upon his cappe”.
However, there was besides a medal with a reproduction of the heads of Sts. Peter and Paul and another with the crossed keys. These pilgrimages to Rome, of which only a few early instances have been given, have increased of late years, for the prisoner of the Vatican, who cannot go out to his children, has become, since 1870, identified with the City of the Seven Hills in a way that before was never for long experienced. Hence the pope is looked upon as embodying in his person the whole essence of Rome, so that today it is the pope who is the living tomb of St. Peter. All this has helped to increase the devotion and love of the Catholic world for its central city and has enormously multiplied the annual number of pilgrims. Within the city itself, mention must just be made of the celebrated pilgrimage to the seven churches, a devotion so dear to the heart of St. Philip (Capecelatro, “Life of St. Philip”, tr. Pope, London, 1894, I, 106, 238, etc.). His name recalls the great work he did for the pilgrims who came to Rome. He established his Congregation of the Trinity dei Pellegrini (ibid., I, 138-54), the whole work of which was to care for and look after the thronging crowds who came every year, more especially in the years of jubilee. Of course, many such hospices already existed. The English College had originally been a home for Saxon pilgrims; and there were and are many others. But St. Philip gave the movement a new impetus.
St. Albans, Hertford, England, was famous over Europe in the Middle Ages. This is the more curious as the sainted martyr was no priest or monk, but a simple layman. The number of royal pilgrims practically includes the whole list of English kings and queens, but especially devoted to the shrine were Henry III, Edward I, Edward II, Richard II. During the last century the broken pieces of the demolished shrine (to the number of two thousand fragments) were patiently fitted together, and now enable the present generation to picture the beauty it presented to the pilgrims who thronged around it (Wall, II, 35-43) .
St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland.—Though more celebrated as a royal burgh and as the seat of Scotland‘s most ancient university, its earlier renown came to it as a center of pilgrimage. Even as far back as the year 500 we find a notice of the pilgrimages made by the Welsh bishop, Cadoc. He went seven times to Rome, thrice to Jerusalem, and once to St. Andrews (Acta SS., January, III, 219).
St. David’s, Pembrokeshire, Wales, was so celebrated a place of pilgrimage that William I went there immediately after the conquest of England. The importance of this shrine and the reverence in which the relics of St. David were held may be gathered from the papal Decree that two pilgrimages here were equal to one to Rome (Wall, 91-5).
Ste Anne d’Auray, Vannes, Brittany, a center of pilgrimage in one of the holiest cities of the Bretons, celebrated for its pardons in honor of St. Anne. The principal pilgrimages take place at Pentecost and on July 26.
Ste Anne de Beaupre, Quebec, Canada, has become the most popular center of pilgrimage in all Canada within quite recent years. A review, or pious magazine, “Les Annales de la Bonne S. Anne”, has been founded to increase the devotion of the people; and the zeal of the Canadian clergy has been displayed in organizing parochial pilgrimages to the shrine. The Eucharistic Congress, held at Montreal in 1910, also did a great deal to spread abroad the fame of this sanctuary.
Sainte-Baume.—S. Maximin, Toulouse, France, is the center of a famous pilgrimage to the supposed relics of St. Mary Magdalene. The historical evidence against the authentication of the tombs is extraordinarily strong and has not been really seriously answered. The pilgrimages, however, continue; and devout worshippers visit the shrine, if not of, at least, dedicated to, St. Mary Magdalene. The arguments against the tradition have been marshalled and fully set out by Msgr. Duchesne (“Fastes episcopaux de l’ancienne Gaul”, Paris, 1894-1900) and appeared in English form in “The Tablet”, XCVI (1900), 88, 282, 323, 365, 403, 444.
St. Patrick’s Purgatory, Donegal, Ireland, has been the center of a pilgrimage from far remote days. The legends that describe its foundation are full of Dantesque episodes which have won for the shrine a place in European literature. It is noticed by the medieval chroniclers, found its way into Italian prose, wasdramatized by Calderon, is referred to by Erasmus, and its existence seems implied in the remark of Ham-let concerning the ghost from purgatory: “Yes by St. Patrick but there is, Horatio” (Act I, sc. V). Though suppressed even before the Reformation, and of course during the Penal Times, it is still extraordinarily popular with the Irish people, for whom it is a real penitential exercise. It seems the only pilgrimage of modern times conducted like those of the Middle Ages (Chambers, “Book of Days”, London, I, 725-8; Leslie in “The Tablet”, 1910).
Saragossa, Aragon, Spain, is celebrated for its famous shrine dedicated to the Blessed Virgin under the title Nuestra Senora del Pilar. Tradition asserts that the origin of this statue goes back to the time of St. James, when, in the lifetime of the Mother of God, it was set up by order of the Apostle. This was approved by Callistus III in 1456. It is glorious on account of the many miracles performed there, and is the most popular of all the shrines of the Blessed Virgin in the Peninsula and the most thronged with pilgrims (Acta SS., July, VII, 880-900).
Savona, Genoa, Italy, claims to possess the oldest sanctuary dedicated to the Blessed Virgin in all Italy, for to it Constantine is said to have gone on pilgrim-age. The statue was solemnly crowned by Pius VII, not while spending his five years of captivity in the city, but later, i.e., on May 10, 1815, assisted by King Victor Emmanuel and the royal family of Savoy (Champagnac, II, 852-7).
Tenerife, Canary Islands, has a statue of the Blessed Virgin which tradition asserts was found by the pagan inhabitants and worshipped as some strange deity for a hundred years or so. For some time after the conversion of the islanders it was a center of pilgrimage (Champagnac, II, 926-7).
Toledo, New Castile, Spain, in its gorgeous cathedral enshrines a statue of the Blessed Virgin in a chapel of jasper, ornamented with magnificent and unique treasures. This center of devotion to the Blessed Virgin which draws to it annually a great number of pilgrims, is due to the tradition of the apparition to St. Ildephonsus (Champagnac, II, 944-6).
Tortosa, Syria, was in the Middle Ages famous for a shrine of the Blessed Virgin, which claimed to be the most ancient in Christendom. There is a quaint story about a miracle there told by Joinville who made a pilgrimage to the shrine, when he accompanied St. Louis to the East (Champagnac, II, 951).
Tours, Indre-et-Loire, France, has long been celebrated for the tomb of St. Martin, to which countless pilgrims journeyed before the Revolution (Goldie in “The Month”, November, 1880, 331).
Trier, Rhenish Prussia, has boasted for fifteen centuries of the possession of the Holy Coat. This relic, brought back by St. Helena from the Holy Land, has been the center of pilgrimage since that date. It has been several times exposed to the faithful and each time has drawn countless pilgrims to its veneration. In 1512 the custom of an exposition taking place every seven years was begun, but it has been often interrupted. The last occasion on which the Holy Coat was exhibited for public veneration was in 1891, when 1,900,000 of the faithful in a continual stream passed before the relic (Clarke, “A Pilgrimage to the Holy Coat of Treves”, London, 1892).
Turin, Piedmont, Italy, is well known for its extraordinary relic of the Holy Winding-Sheet or Shroud. Whatever may be said against its authenticity, it is an astonishing relic, for the impression which it bears in negative of the body of Jesus Christ could with difficulty have been added by art. The face thereon impressed agrees remarkably with the traditional portraits of Christ. Naturally the expositions of the sacred relic are the occasions of numerous pilgrimages (Thurston in “The Month”, January, 1903, 17; February, 162).
Vallombrosa, Tuscany, Italy, has become a place of pilgrimage, even though the abbey no longer contains its severe and picturesque throng of monks. Its romantic site has made it a ceaseless attraction to minds like those of Dante, Ariosto, Milton, etc.; and Benvenuto Cellini tells us that he too made a pilgrimage to the shrine of the Blessed Virgin there to thank her for the many beautiful works of art he had composed; and as he went he sang and prayed (Champagnac, II, 1033-7).
Walsingham, Norfolk, England, contained England‘s greatest shrine of the Blessed Virgin. The chapel dates from 1061, almost from which time onward it was the most frequented Madonna sanctuary in the island, both by foreigners and the English. Many of the English kings went to it on pilgrimage; and the destruction of it weighed most heavily of all his misdeeds on the conscience of the dying Henry VIII. Erasmus in his “Religious Pilgrimage” (“Colloquies”, London, 1878, II, 1-37) has given a most detailed account of the shrine, though his satire on the whole devotion is exceptionally caustic. Once more, annually, pilgrimages to the old chapel have been revived; and the pathetic “Lament of Walsingham” is ceasing to be true to actual facts (“The Month”, September, 1901, 236; Bridgett, “Dowry of Mary”, London, 1875, 303-9).
Westminster, London, England, contained one of the seven incorrupt bodies of saints of England (Acta SS., August, I, 276), i.e., that of St. Edward the Confessor, the only one which yet remains in its old shrine and is still the center of pilgrimage. From immediately after the king’s death, his tomb was carefully tended, especially by the Norman kings. At the suggestion of St. Thomas Becket a magnificent new shrine was prepared by Henry II in 1163, and the body of the saint there translated on October 13 At once pilgrims began to flock to the tomb for miracles, and to return thanks for favors, as did Richard I, after his captivity (Radulph Coggeshall, “Chron. Angl.”, in R. S., ed. Stevenson, 1875, 63). So popular was this last canonized English king, that on the rebuilding of the abbey by Henry III St. Edward’s tomb really overshadowed the primary dedication to St. Peter. The pilgrim’s sign was a king’s head surmounting a pin. The step on which the shrine stands was deeply worn by the kneeling pilgrims, but it has been relaid so that the hollows are now on the inner edge. Once more this sanctuary, too, has become a center of pilgrimage (Stanley, “Mem. of Westminster”, London, 1869, passim; Wall, 223-35).
—In older ages, the pilgrim had a special garb which betokened his mission. This has been practically omitted in modern times, except among the Mohammedans, with whom ihram still distinguishes the Hallal and Hadj from the rest of the people. As far as one can discover, the dress of the medieval pilgrim consisted of a loose frock or long smock, over which was thrown a separate hood with a cape, much after the fashion of the Dominican and Servite habit. On his head, he wore a low-crowned, broad-brimmed hat, such as is familiar to us from the armorial bearings of cardinals. This was in wet and windy weather secured under his chin by two strings, but strings of such length that when not needed the hat could be thrown off and hang behind the back. Across his breast passed a belt from which was suspended his wallet, or script, to contain his relics, food, money, and what-not. In some illuminations it may be noted as somehow attached to his side (cf . blessing infra). In one hand he held a staff, composed of two sticks swathed tightly together by a withy band. Thus in the grave of Bishop Mayhew (d. 1516), which was opened a few years ago in Hereford cathedral, there was found a stock of hazel-wood between four and five feet long and about the thickness of a finger. As there were oyster shells also buried in the same grave, it seems reasonable to suppose that this stick was the bishop’s pilgrim staff; but it has been suggested recently that it represents a crosier of a rough kind used for the burial of prelates (Cox and Harvey, “Church Furniture”, London, 1907, 55). Occasionally these staves were put to uses other than those for which they were intended. Thus on St. Richard‘s day, April 3, 1487, Bishop Storey of Chichester had to make stringent regulations, for there was such a throng of pilgrims to reach the tomb of the saint that the struggles for precedence led to blows and the free use of the staves on each other’s heads. In one case a death had resulted. To prevent a recurrence of this disorder, banners and crosses only were to be carried (Wall, 128). Some, too, had bells in their hands or other instruments of music: “some others pilgrimes will have with them baggepipes; so that everie towne that they came through, what with the noice of their singing and with the sound of their piping and with the jangling of their Canterburie bells, and with the barking out of dogges after them, that they make more noice then if the King came there away with all his clarions and many other minstrels” (Fox, “Acts”, London, 1596, 493).
This distinctive pilgrim dress is described in most medieval poems and stories (cf. “Renard the Fox”, London, 1886, 13, 74, etc.; “Squyr of Lowe Degree”, ed. Ritson in “Metrical Romancees”, London, 1802, III, 151), most minutely and, of course, indirectly, and very late by Sir Walter Raleigh:
“Give me my scallop-shell of quiet,
My staff of faith to walk upon,
My scrip of joy, immortal diet,
My bottle of Salvation,
My gown of glory (hope’s true gage),
And then I’ll take my pilgrimage.”
(Cf. Furnivall, “The Stations of Rome and the Pilgrim’s Sea Voyage”.)
In penance they went alone and barefoot. Aeneas Sylvius riccolomini tells of his walking without shoes or stockings through the snow to Our Lady of Whitekirk in East Lothian, a tramp of ten miles; and he remembered the intense cold of that pilgrimage to his life’s end (Paul, “Royal Pilgrimages in Scotland” in “Trans. of Scottish Ecclesiological Soc.”, 1905), for it brought on a severe attack of gout (Boulting, “!Eneas Sylvius”, London, 1908, 60).
Pilgrim Signs.—A last part of the pilgrim’s attire must be mentioned, the famous pilgrim signs. These were badges sewn on to the hat or hung round the neck or pinned on the clothes of the pilgrim.
“A bolle and a bagge
He bar by his syde
And hundred ampulles;
On his hat seten
Signes of Synay,
And Shelles of Galice,
And many a conche
On his cloke,
And keys of Rome,
And the Vernycle bifore
For men sholde knowe
And se bi hise signes
Whom he sought hadde”
(Piers Plowman, ed. Wright, London, 1856, I, 109).
There are several moulds extant in which these signs were cast (cf. British Museum; Musee de Lyon; Musee de Cluny, Paris; etc.), and not a few signs themselves have been picked up, especially in the beds of rivers, evidently dropped by the pilgrims from the ferry-boats. These signs protected the pilgrims from assault and enabled them to pass through even hostile ranks (“Poston Letters”, I, 85; Forgeais, “Coll. de plombs histories”, Paris, 1863, 52-80; “Archaeol. Jour.”, VII, 400; XIII, 105), but as the citation from Piers Plowman shows, they were also to show “whom he sought hadde”. Of course the cross betokened the crusader (though one could also take the cross against the Moors of Spain, Simeon of Durham, “Hist. de gestis regum Angliae”, ed. Twysden, London, 1652, I, 249), and the color of it the nation to which he belonged, the English white, the French red, the Flemish green (Matthew Paris, “Chron. majora”, ed. Luard, London, 1874, II, 330, an. 1199, in R. S.); the pilgrim to Jerusalem had two crossed leaves of palm (hence the name “palmer”); to St. Catherine’s tomb on Mount Sinai, the wheel; to Rome, the heads of Sts. Peter and Paul or the keys or the vernicle (this last also might mean Genoa where there was a rival shrine of St. Veronica’s veil); to St. James of Compostella the scallop or oyster shell; to Canterbury, a bell or the head of the saint on a brooch or a leaden ampulla filled with water from a well near the tomb tinctured with an infinitesimal drop of the martyr’s blood (“Mat. for Hist. of Thomas Beckett”, 1878 in R. S., II, 269; III, 152, 187); to Walsingham, the virgin and child; to Amiens, the head of St. John the Baptist, etc. Then there was the horn of St. Hubert, the comb of St. Blaise, the axe of St. Olave, and so on. And when the tomb was reached, votive offerings were left of jewels, models of limbs that had been miraculously cured, spears, broken fetters, etc. (Rock, “Church of our Fathers”, London, 1852, III, 463).
—Among the countless effects which pilgrimages produced the following may be set down:
Towns.—Matthew Paris notes (“Chron. major.” in R. S., I, 3, an. 1067) that in England (and the same thing really applies all over Europe) there was hardly a town where there did not lie the bodies of martyrs, confessors, and holy virgins, and though no doubt in very many cases it was the importance of the towns that made them the chosen resting-places of the saint’s relics, in quite as many others the importance of the saint drew so many religious pilgrims to it that the town sprang up into real significance. So it has been noted that Canterbury, at least, outshone Winchester, and since the Reformation has once more dwindled into insignificance. Bury Saint Edmunds, St. Albans, Walsingham, Compostella, Lourdes, La Salette have arisen, or grown, or decayed, accordingly as the popularity among pilgrims began, advanced, declined.
Roads were certainly made in many cases by the pilgrims. They wore out a path from the sea-coast to Canterbury and joined Walsingham to the great centers of English life and drove tracks and paths across the Syrian sands to the Holy City. And men and women for their soul’s sake made benefactions so as to level down and up, and to straighten out the wandering ways that led from port to sanctuary and from shrine to shrine (Digby, “Compitum”, London, 1851, I, 408). Thus they hoped to get their share also in the merits of the pilgrim. The whole subject has been illuminated in a particular instance by a monograph of Hilaire Belloc in the “Old Road” (London, 1904) .
Geography too sprang from the same source. Each pilgrim who wrote an account of his travels for the instruction and edification of his fellows was unconsciously laying the foundations of a new science; and it is astonishing how very early these written accounts begin. The fourth century saw them rise, witnessed the publication of many Peregrinationes” (cf. Palestine Pilg. Text Soc., passim), and started the fashion of writing these day-today descriptions of the countries through which they journeyed. It is onlyfair to mention with especial praise the names of the Dominicans Ricoldo da Monte Cruce (1320) and Burchard of Mount Sion (Beazley, II, 190, 383), the latter of whom has given measurements of several Biblical sites, the accuracy of which is testified to by moderntravellers. Again we know that Roger of Sicily caused the famous work “The Book of Roger, or the Delight of whoso loves to make the Circuit of the World” (1154) to be compiled, from information gathered from pilgrims and merchants, who were made to appear before a select committee of Arabs (Symonds, “Sketches in Italy“, Leipzig, 1883, I, 249); and we even hear of a medieval Continental guide-book to the great shrines, prefaced by a list of the most richly indulgenced sanctuaries and containing details of where money could be changed, where inns and hospitals were to be found, what roads were safest and best, etc. (“The Month”, March, 1909, 295; “Itineraries of William Wey”, ed. for Roxburgh Club, London, 1857; Thomas, “De passagiis in Terram Sanctam”, Venice, 1879; Bounardot and Longnon, “Le saint voyage de Jherusalem du Seigneur d’Auglure”, Paris, 1878).
Crusades also naturally arose out of the idea of pilgrimages. It was these various peregrinationes made to the Sepulchre of Jesus Christ that at all familiarized people with the East. Then came the huge columns of devout worshippers, growing larger and larger, becoming more fully organized, and well protected by armed bands of disciplined troops. The most famous pilgrimage of all, that of 1065, which numbered about 12,000, under Gunther, Bishop of Bamberg, assisted by the Archbishop of Mainz, and the Bishops of Ratisbon and Utrecht, was attacked by Bedouins after it had left Caesarea. The details of that Homeric struggle were brought home to Europe (Lambert of Gersfield, “Mon. Germ. Hist.”, 1844, V, 169) and at once gave rise the Crusades.
Miracle Plays are held to be derived from returning pilgrims. This theory is somewhat obscurely worked out by Pere Menestrier (Representations en musique anc. et modernes; cf. Champagnac, I, 9). But he bases his conclusions on the idea that the miracle plays begin by the story of the Birth or Death of Christ and holds that the return to the West of those who had visited the scenes of the life of Christ naturally led them to reproduce these as best they could for their less fortunate brethren (St. August, “De civ. Dei” in P.L., XXXVIII, 764). Hence the miracle plays that deal with the story of Christ’s Passion were imported for the benefit of those who were unable to visit the very shrines. But the connection between the pilgrimages and these plays comes out much more clearly when we realize that the scene of the martyrdom of the saint or some legend concerning one of his miracles was not uncommonly acted before his shrine or during the pilgrimage that was being made to it. It was performed in order to stimulate devotion, and to teach the lessons of his life to those who probably knew little about him. It was one way and the most effective way of seeing that the reason for visiting the shrine was not one of mere idle superstition, but that it had a purpose to achieve in the moral improvement of the pilgrim.
International Communications owed an enormous debt to the continual interchange of pilgrims. Pilgrimages and wars were practically the only reasons that led the people of one country to visit that of another. It may safely be hazarded that an exceedingly large proportion of the foreigners who came to England, came on purpose to venerate the tomb of the “Holy blissful Martyr“, St. Thomas Becket. Special enactments allowed pilgrims to pass unmolested through districts that were in the throes of war. Again facilities were granted, as at Pontigny, for strangers to visit the shrines of their own saints in other lands. The result of this was naturally to increase communications between foreign countries. The matter of road-making has been already alluded to and the establishment of hospices along the lines of march, as the ninth-century monastery at Mont Cenis, or in the cities most frequented by pilgrims, fulfilled the same purpose (Acta SS., March, II, 150, 157; Glaber, “Chron.” in Mon. Germ. Hist.: Script, VII, 62). Then lastly it may be noted that we have distinct notices, scattered, indirect, and yet all the more convincing, that pilgrims not unfrequently acted as postmen, carrying letters from place to place as they went; and that people even waited with their notes written till a stray pilgrim should pass along the route (Paston Letters, II, 62).
Religious Orders began to be founded to succour the pilgrims, and these even the most famous orders of the medieval Church. The Knights Hospitallers, or Knights of St. John, as their name implies, had as their office to guard the straggling bands of Latin Christians; the Knights of Rhodes had the same work to carry out; as also had the Knights Templars. In fact the seal of these last represented simply a knight rescuing a helpless pilgrim (compare also the Trinity dei Peregrini of St. Philip).
Scandals effected by this form of devotion are too obvious and were too often denounced by the saints and other writers from St. Jerome to Thomas a Kern-pis to need any setting out here. The “Canterbury Tales” of Chaucer are sufficient evidence. But the “Colloquy” of Erasmus briefly mentions the more characteristic ones: (i) excessive credulity of the guardian of the shrine; (ii) insistence upon the obligation of pilgrimages as though they were necessary for salvation; (iii) the neglect on the part of too many of the pilgrims of their own duties at home in order to spend more time in passing from one sanctuary to another; (iv) the wantonness and evil-living and evil-speaking indulged in by the pilgrims themselves in many cases. Not as though these abuses invalidated the use of pilgrimages. Erasmus himself declares that they did not; but they certainly should have been more stringently and rigorously repressed by the church rulers. The dangers of these scandals are evidently reduced to a minimum by the speed of modern travel; yet from time to time warnings need to be repeated lest the old evils should return.
—To complete this article, it will be well to give the following blessings taken from the Sarum Missal (London, 1868, 595-6). These should be compared with Mohammedan formularies (Champagnac, II, 1077-80, etc.):
Blessing of Scrip and Staff.
The Lord be with you.
And with thy spirit.
Let us pray. O Lord Jesus Christ who of Thy unspeakable mercy at the bidding of the Father and by the Cooperation of the Holy Ghost wast willing to come down from Heaven and to seek the sheep that was lost by the deceit of the devil, and to carry him back on Thy shoulders to the flock of the Heavenly Country; and didst commend the sons of Holy Mother Church by prayer to ask, by holy living to seek, by persevering to knock that so they may the more speedily find the reward of saving life; we humbly call upon Thee that Thou wouldst be pleased to bless these scrips (or this scrip) and these staves (or this staff) that whosoever for the love of Thy name shall desire to wear the same at his side or hang it at his neck or to bear it in his hands and so on his pilgrimage to seek the aid of the Saints with the accompaniment of humble prayer, being protected by the guardian-ship of Thy Right Hand may be found meet to attain unto the joys of the everlasting vision through Thee, O Savior of the World, Who livest and reignest in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.
Here let the scrip be sprinkled with Holy Water and let the Priest put it round each pilgrim’s neck, saying: In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ receive this scrip, the habit of thy pilgrimage, that after due chastisement thou mayest be found worthy to reach in safety the Shrine of the Saints to which thou desirest to go; and after the accomplishment of thy journey thou mayest return to us in health. Through, etc.
Here let him give the Staff to the Pilgrim, saying: Receive this staff for thy support in the travail and toil of thy pilgrimage, that thou mayest be able to overcome all the hosts of the enemy and reach in safety the Shrine of the Saints whither thou desirest to go; and having obediently fulfilled thy course mayest return again to us with joy. Through, etc.
The Blessing of the Cross for one on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
The Lord be with you.
And with thy spirit.
Let us pray. O God, whose power is invincible and pity cannot be measured, the aid and sole comfort of pilgrims; who givest unto Thy servants armor which cannot be overcome; we beseech Thee to be pleased to bless this dress which is humbly devoted to Thee, that the banner of the venerated Cross, the figure whereof is upon it, may be a most mighty strength to Thy servants against the wicked temptations of the old enemy; a defense by the way, a protection in Thy house, and a security to us on every side. Through, etc.
Here let the garment marked with the Cross be sprinkled with Holy Water and given to the pilgrim, the priest saying :
Receive this dress whereupon the sign of the Cross of the Lord Our Savior is traced, that through it safety, benediction and strength to journey in prosperity, may accompany thee to the Sepulchre of Him, who with God the Father and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth one God, world without end. Amen.