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The Pilgrim Journey.


James Harpur (BlueBridge, 2016)

The basics of pilgrimage, which author James Harpur defines as "a physical journey ... to a special destination, accompanied by a particular state of mind and often with the hope of transformation," are probably familiar to anyone who's ever cracked a copy of The Canterbury Tales. Throughout the Middle Ages, when pilgrimage enjoyed its greatest popularity, thousands of Christians crisscrossed Europe and the Middle East to visit holy sites and venerate relics. Harpur does a good job describing the experience of traveling to some of the most important sites of the era.

The real strength of the book, though, lies in how Harpur moves beyond the usual discussion of medieval relics and crusading monks to include a variety of pilgrimage experiences. The Orthodox tradition, for instance, is distinct from that of Roman Catholics in that the Orthodox place a special emphasis on traveling to venerate icons. Readers learn how people seeking miraculous cures have been traveling to Quebec's shrine of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre since 1658. Devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, arguably the most popular pilgrimage in the Americas, has spurred the growth of smaller shrines dedicated to her in places as diverse as Monterrey, Mexico and Illinois.

A growing spirt of ecumenism is responsible for the renewed modern devotion to sites like Scotland's monastery of St. Columba and the Holy House in Walsingham, England. Initially Catholic shrines that were destroyed during the Reformation, these sites were revived by devout Protestants and today welcome pilgrims of all faiths.

Reading The Pilgrim Journey may seem a small pilgrimage in itself. By the end, readers have a better understanding of this ancient tradition and may be inclined to hit the road.

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Title Annotation:The Pilgrim Journey: A History of Pilgrimage in the Western World
Author:Manning, Kathleen
Publication:U.S. Catholic
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jan 1, 2017
Previous Article:The Beautiful Not Yet.
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