Pilgrimage for Others

Image by Charles Hénin

While Ignatius never went back to Jerusalem, and the first companions were prevented by a war to do the journey, the pilgrim practice remained influential in the nascent Jesuit community. Ignatius sent members to the Marian shrine of Loreto to pray for the health of a pope, or to discern in this location one’s own journey as a companion of Jesus or on a different path.

Moreover, the formation devised for those who desired to be integrated into the group included a pilgrimage among its core experiences:

The third experience is to spend another month in making a pilgrimage without money and even in begging from door to door, at appropriate times, for the love of God our Lord, in order to grow accustomed to discomfort in food and lodging. Thus too the candidate, through abandoning all the reliance which he could have in money or other created things, may with genuine faith and intense love place his reliance entirely in his Creator and Lord. (Ignatius of Loyola, Constitutions, § 67 (St. Louis: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1970, 97)

What was underlined in this experience was not so much the inner journey of self-discovery, or the mystical journey in God of a mature Ignatius, but the rough journey prefigurative of the challenges of an itinerant Jesuit life, available to be sent to any part of the world. Followers of Ignatius were called to make of pilgrimage a cradle of their formation, learning to trust in the Lord, and to experience discomfort and challenge.