PILGRIMAGES: Journeys to holy places for the sake of devotion and edification. They are a common feature of religious devotion, not peculiar to Christianity. In the last-named religion the custom began early. In the middle of the fourth century, after Constantine and his mother Helena had visited Golgotha, Bethlehem, and other places, and had built churches there, pilgrimages to the Holy Land became quite frequent. In the eighth century Charlemagne made a treaty with Haroun al Rashid to procure safety to the Christian pilgrims in Jerusalem, and founded a Latin monastery in that city for their comfort. In the eleventh century it was the outrages to which the Christian pilgrims were exposed in Palestine which, more than anything else, contributed to bring about the crusades. But in the mean time the Church had taken the matter in hand, and pilgrimages changed character. They became "good works," penalties by which gross sins could be expiated, sacrifices by which holiness, or at least a measure of it, could be attained. The pilgrim was placed under the special protection of the Church; to maltreat him, or to deny him shelter and alms, was sacrilege. And when he returned victorious, having fulfilled his vow, he became the center of the religious interest of the village, the town, the city, to which he belonged, an object of holy awe. Thus pilgrimizing became a life-work, a calling. There were people who adopted it as a vocation, wandering all their life from one shrine to another. Places of pilgrimage sprang up everywhere--at the tombs of the saints and martyrs (St. Peter and St. Paul in Rome, St. Thecla in Seleucia, St. Stephen in Hippo in Africa, the Forty Martyrs in Cappadocia, St. Felix at Nola in Campania, St. Martin at Tours, St. Adelbert at Gnesen, St. Willibrord at Echternach, St. Thomas at Canterbury, St. Olaf at Drontheim, etc.), or at the shrine of some wonder-working relic or image. At the Reformation, this practise was ridiculed by Protestants, but was retained by the Roman Catholic Church. In very recent times two new places of pilgrimage have excited the Roman Catholic world--Lourdes (q.v.) in the south of France, near the Pyrenees; and Knock, near Dublin, Ireland. In both places the Virgin Mary, it is claimed, revealed herself.
Among the most celebrated shrines toward which the currents of pilgrimage have been chiefly directed are the holy places of Palestine, which since the fifteenth century have been under the guardianship of the Franciscan order. Sanctuaries of the Virgin in various parts of the world, e.g., Loreto (q.v.) and Genezano in Italy, Chartres, Fourvières (in Lyons) and especially Lourdes (q.v.) in France, Einsiedeln (q.v.) in Switzerland, Mariazell in Austria, Guadeloupe and Montserrat in Spain, Walsingham in England (of which Erasmus wrote an account; Eng. transl., Pilgrimages to Saint Mary of Walsingham and Saint Thomas of Canterbury, 2d ed., London, 1875), etc. Among the sanctuaries of the angels and saints may be mentioned the "Limina apostolorum" on the Vatican hill, Monte Gargano, in Italy, in honor of St. Michael (it was the devotion of Norman pilgrims to this shrine that led to the Norman conquest of Naples); Czenstochau in Russian Poland, Compostella in Spain, in honor of St. James the Apostle, Mont St. Michel on the northern coast of France, to say nothing of the reputed tombs of Lazarus and his two sisters in the south. In North America the most noted place of pilgrimage is the shrine of St. Anne on the St. Lawrence, a few miles below Quebec, where a reputed relic of St. Anne, mother of the Virgin, is preserved, having been brought from one of the sanctuaries dedicated to St. Anne in France. In general, all the tombs of prominent saints, or localities intimately connected with their careers, have at one time or another been centers of pilgrimages on the part of the pious faithful, even though the claims of many of them to such honor could not stand the test of critical investigation.
JAMES F. DRISCOLL.