Pilgrimages you can do this summer


All of these pilgrimage routes are particularly active during the summer months.

Going on a summer pilgrimage has its advantages. For most people, summer is the only time of year when a week or two can be used for something other than the same old usual routine. And while it’s true that most roads and holy places can be crowded (and unbearably hot) during the summer, there are plenty of good reasons to visit them from June to August.

Pilgrimages in the Bible

Christian traditions have read the biblical book of Genesis as portraying human beings as exiles, in an often inhospitable world, estranged from both God and each other. Later biblical accounts (and Christian commentaries) highlight this exile as a constitutive, inescapable and fundamental attribute of human existence. Pilgrimages are, both metaphorically and spiritually, ways of undoing said exile, as if returning home.

Exile is constant throughout the Old Testament. Abraham and his descendants go from one exile to another: Egypt, the desert, Babylon. But the pilgrimage also occupies an important place in most of these stories. This exile-pilgrimage dynamic clearly shows that the two experiences share common traits. The many different journeys to and from exile that we find in the scripturesare themselves pilgrimagesloaded with rich spiritual significance.

All New Testament writers emphasize the inevitable ephemeral of this world (Cf Jn 2:17; 1Co 7:31; or James 1:11) as well encourage believers to understand themselves as “pilgrims and strangers on earth” or “temporary residents” whose true homeland is in heaven (1 Peter 2:11; Hebrews 11:13). These texts helped to see the Christian life as a journey towards this homeland — thus giving Christian pilgrimage a distinctive interior and exterior dimension.

Christian pilgrimages were first made to sites associated with the birth, life, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus –but also to those associated with the early saints and martyrs of the Church, then extended to other areas of Christian life and history in general. Evidence dates back to the 3rd century, and many descriptions of Christian pilgrimages to the Holy Land date from the 4th century, making it clear that this practice was quite common.

Ok, but where to go here?

While the famous Spanish Way of Saint James is still the most popular of all pilgrimage routes in Christianity, Malta and Gozo have their own caminos. This should not be surprising since Maltese Christianity is as old as Pauline preaching. On his way to his trial in Rome in AD 60, Paul was shipwrecked off the northwest coast of Malta and spent the non-navigable winter months there. While there, he converted the island’s governor, Publius (Malta’s first bishop and saint), healed the sick and won souls for Christ, establishing the very roots of Maltese Christianity. See the link below for more information:

The Via Francigena

Before the discovery of the tomb of Saint James, Rome was the European city with the only known burial place in the West of one of the 12 apostles: that of Simon Peter, in addition to the so-called “apostle of the Gentiles”, Paul of Tarsus.

If it is necessary to wait until the 6th century for the main Roman sanctuaries to be renovated in order to facilitate the visits of pilgrims, the first pilgrimages to Rome date back to the 2nd century. Strong historical evidence shows that, for example, Origen traveled from Alexandria to Rome as a pilgrim, possibly in a Jubilee year.

For centuries, countless new converts to Christianity traveled to Rome from Northern Europe. And while the Christian conquest of Jerusalem and the discovery of the tomb of Saint James opened up new pilgrimage routes for Christians in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, the Via Francigena remained a consolidated pilgrimage route in the Eternal City. See the link below for more information:


The Jordan Path

The Jordan Trail is a hiking trail of nearly 700 kilometers that crosses Jordan from north to south. It begins in Umm Qais, by the ruins of Gadara, the ancient Roman and Greek city overlooking the Sea of ​​Galilee, where Jesus exorcised the demonic Gadarene.

Pilgrims can choose whether to cover all eight different regions (a trip that would take at least 40 days, in a typically biblical fashion) or the region (or regions) of their preference: from Umm Qais to Ajloun, from Ajloun to Salt, from Salt to Wadi Zarqa Ma’in (including the Roman Road and the Dead Sea canyons), from Wadi Zarqa Ma’in to Karak (the Castle of the Crusaders ), from Karak to Dana (an exceptionally green biosphere reserve), from Dana to the legendary Petra, from Petra to the impressive desert sands of Wadi Rum, and from the desert, finally, to the Red Sea.


North America

For Catholic travelers in the United States and Canada, there is plenty of time this summer to hit the road to enjoy one of many historic shrines and churches in North America.

So stock up on gas (ouch!) and get a neighbor to feed your cat and water your plants. It’s time for the family “pilgrimage”. Here are some ideas of churches or shrines to visit this summer:

Our Lady of La Leche

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