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Pilgrimage: A Spiritual and Cultural Journey

Lion Hudson
RRP $39.95
Reviewed by Bob Warrick

UNITING CHURCH people often affirm that ‘we are a pilgrim people’ but how do we understand the word ‘pilgrim’?

Bradley’s ‘Pilgrimage’ adds meaning to the word as it includes not only a comprehensive history of pilgrimage but also detailed descriptions of pilgrim places and routes in Europe which have been developed over two millennia, as well as a chapter that will appeal to many, seven ways to be a pilgrim today without packing your bags.
Bradley describes pilgrimage as ‘a departure from daily life on a journey in search of spiritual well-being’ undertaken alone or in company, leading to change and is a feature of all major faiths.

His history of pilgrimage encompasses Biblical roots, Pilgrimage in the early church, Celtic Pilgrimage, the Golden Age of Pilgrimage, and Pilgrimage through the Reformation to today.

We can be pilgrims today without setting off for a far away land says Bradley. He lists;

  •  the Stations of the Cross, the ancient exercise of following in Christ’s footsteps
  • taking a meaningful walk around your church, pausing to reflect on key items of the building and furniture
  • a labyrinth which may be set out on the floor or ground, and may also be mounted on a table for tracing with a finger
  • outdoor prayer walks and worship
  • pastoral pilgrimages made to visit friends or relatives who are unable to get out
  • virtual pilgrimages [is there anything that the internet does not include?] and finally he asks about the marks of a pilgrim people suggesting – being more open, providing companionship, connecting with the saints and being on the move. Vanier, he reminds his readers, observed while that a sect has control at its heart a community has journey, and sits lightly to buildings, authority and dogma.
    A well presented book with interesting and well presented information about pilgrimage routes in today’s world.