Why Making A Pilgrimage Should be on Your Agenda
Making a pilgrimage could change your life. Quite a statement, yes! But let us explain...
Following a Pilgrimage trail, such as the famous Camino to Santiago, is something more and more people are making part of their travel and lifetime experience agendas. Leaving hectic schedules, daily routines, and swamped in-boxes behind, people from all backgrounds are taking a unique kind of journey.
What is a Pilgrimage?
Essentially, a pilgrimage is a journey with purpose & significance. Making a pilgrimage, you are literally walking in the footsteps of history; pilgrimages typically lead to points of historic or spiritual importance, and are paths which have been followed by many over 100s (if not 1000s) of years.
If you're not familiar with the concept of a pilgrimage, you may still have seen the 2010 movie The Way, watched the BBC's recent documentary Pilgrimage, or simply heard some buzz around The Camino.
Pilgrimages are becoming more and more popular, and it is easy to see why. Life today is complicated. Making this kind of journey is a chance to free your mind and focus solely on the purpose of your journey. You are guaranteed to make discoveries along the way, about yourself, about the human spirit, and the culture of the land you explore.
Why Should I Make a Pilgrimage?
The word "pilgrimage" itself does imply religious context. Many people of all faiths make pilgrimages, often to a shrine or place of significance, to experience spiritual enlightenment and deeper understanding of their beliefs.
However, pilgrimage is far from exclusively for the religious. People make pilgrimages today for all kinds of reasons. The purpose can be many things, from self-discovery, to personal achievement. Sometimes, the purpose isn't clear until reflection upon completion of the journey!
Part of the beauty of pilgrimage is meeting all these people of diverse backgrounds, and sharing the experience of making your way to a common goal. The camaraderie and interactions you will encounter along the way can shape your understanding of humanity.
Journeys of Discovery
The word Camino literally means Way, and the Camino Francés, or Way of St James, is the route most people think of when they refer to "The Camino". The full Camino, from the French Border to Santiago, reputed to be the site of the remains of St James, is over 750km, and the final 113km stage from Sarria qualifies the pilgrim for their "Compostela" certificate. Millions follow the Camino each year, and the camaraderie and spirit along the way is simply unbeatable. A truly uplifting journey through beguiling towns & cities, and wonderful and diverse countryside, the Camino is an unforgettable experience, and will form memories and often friendships which will last a lifetime.
There are many inspiring pilgimage routes around the world, including alternative routes to Santiago such as the Camino del Norte or the Camino Portugués, and you can even cycle the Camino.
The Via Francigena to Rome is a fabulous way to explore rural Italy as you make a pilgrimage to the "Eternal City" of Rome, in the UK, follow St Cuthbert's Way to Holy Island, and further afield, the Japanese Kumano Kodo us an unforgettable way to experience the Japan of your imagination.