Friday, May 27, 2005

The Sacred Trek the Ages

When God called a people to Himself, He set them on a pilgrimage. He made for Himself sojourners. He led them through seas, navigated them through deserts and took them up mountains. He caused them to move, so they could be still and know He was God. He put them on a journey, so they would remember He was their destination. Abraham. Isaac. Jacob. Moses. Ruth. David. Elijah. Elisha. Jeremiah. David. Isaiah. Mary. Joseph. Jesus, the ultimate Pilgrim. Peter. John. Paul. Each was called to sojourn, all were led to follow the Father and invite others to Him en route.

From the time of the Torah to now others too have sojourned to and through the Holy Land. Some traveled for feasts, others to offer for sacrifices. Curiosity and love wooed many weary souls. We have the accounts of women such as Egaria who trekked from Spain and Helena (Constantine’s mom) and Paula who traveled from Rome to Jerusalem in the 4th century A.D.

Pilgrimages were an integral part of medieval spirituality. During those days some sojourned for devotion, others to make atonement for sins by gaining indulgences, some to seek a miracle for sickness, and others went for adventure and to get away from home life1. People would visit shrines to saints, places where holy people lived, labored, did miracles, or died2. Pilgrimages to Jerusalem were of such importance in the Middle Ages that the Crusades started -in part- to ensure passage to the Holy City. While people’s motives for their pilgrimages varied, what was consistent was that they were compelled to journey.

1. Gallyon, Margery Kempe and Medieval England, 151.
2. Ibid., 151.