Pilgrimage was a central institution in the medieval and early modern era. Christians traveled to the Holy Land steadily since the 4th century to see and touch the places where Christ lived. They journeyed to shrines where relics of saints were kept: to the Rome of Saints Peter and Paul, the Holy House of Loreto, or Santiago de Compostela. The pilgrim destination was paramount; one was going to a holy place. Pilgrimage was arduous, even dangerous, layered with penitential overtones. While not devoid of criticisms (about costs or wanderlust), this popular devotion brought men and women on the road, weaving a web of spiritual, intellectual, and artistic exchanges. In a fleeting world, pilgrimage manifested an embodied faith.

Image by Alejandro Olayo-Méndez, SJ