There are probably an infinite number of reasons to go on a Catholic pilgrimage. With so many destinations to visit, so many different events in life prompting us, and people expressing their faith in a multitude of ways, there’s a good chance that you’ll find pilgrimage to be one of the most meaningful expressions of faith.
We’ve compiled the seven biggest reasons to go on a Catholic pilgrimage. Read on to discover which one you identify with most.
REASON 1: Discover the places God has revealed himself in a unique way.
Perhaps the most immediate reason to go on a pilgrimage is to experience firsthand the literal places that God has impacted in time and space.
It’s one thing to know that Jesus grew up and lived out his ministry in the Middle East. It’s another thing entirely to be there in flesh and blood, just as he was. When you speak to anyone who’s been to the Holy Land, toured Rome, or walked the Camino, words and knowledge simply aren’t enough. The experience must be had yourself to truly appreciate these sacred destinations.
And though people often think of pilgrimage as a once-in-a-lifetime experience, these different destinations are vastly unique, offering the opportunity to learn about different aspects of God as he’s revealed himself.
REASON 2: Be inspired through the stories and people from history.
Whether saints or important historical figures, it’s often awe-inspiring and humbling to learn about the lives they led while standing in the places dedicated to them.
Rome, for instance, contains so many saints, history, and historical sites you could spend weeks there and not have time to truly appreciate them all. But it’s not just the sheer number of places to visit, it’s that you’re simultaneously visiting the geographical epicenter of the Catholic church and some of the most beautiful works created for the faith.
Does it get any better than remembering St. Peter in the largest and arguably most beautiful, awe-inspiring church in the world? We think it’s hard to beat, but you can judge for yourself.
Ultimately, these examples aren’t just intriguing stories, they are inspirations to our lived faith today. They offer opportunities to remember we are not alone. We can learn from these saints and figures and be encouraged in our own spiritual journeys knowing others have walked the path before us.
REASON 3: Reevaluate and reset your life.
Travel is a unique opportunity to look at life from a different perspective.
Maybe there’s a career decision you’re trying to make. Maybe a relationship needs to move in a new direction. Or maybe you’re trying to get your own priorities straight. Whatever the case, getting outside your typical geography, seeing new things, and talking to friends old and new can be exactly the thing you need to reinvigorate a part of your life.
REASON 4: Seek transformation in your faith.
Faith is filled with ups and downs, periods of high spiritual energy, and periods where it seems like little is happening.
For some, they’ve experienced a time where they were spiritually on fire, but now it feels like they’re on cruise control. For some, faith has been a consistent practice, but not something felt deeply. Some aren’t sure what exactly they believe.
No matter where you’re at on your faith journey, a Catholic pilgrimage is an opportunity to experience transformation. Even if you find yourself barely willing to say “yes” to the trip, when you remain open to God’s work in your life, you may be surprised at what happens. A pilgrimage might open up new questions, inspire a new way of thinking, or cause some serious soul searching, but whatever happens, chances are good you won’t remain the same.
REASON 5: Slow down, take a breath, and contemplate.
Sometimes, you just need to take a moment and process. It may be a season of extraordinary busyness where slowing down is needed. It may be that you’ve just come out of a particularly difficult experience and are seeking respite. Or maybe it’s simply that the fog of life is difficult to see through, and you’re seeking clarity.
A pilgrimage is unique in that at the same time that you are getting out of the day-to-day, it is also a time of spiritual and personal contemplation. You can use the time to pray, to mourn, to reflect, or simply be.
REASON 6: Meet new people and deepen your relationship with those you know.
Many pilgrims have observed that they’ve gone on a pilgrimage to see the incredible holy sites at a particular destination, but by the end realized one of the greatest treasures they found was the relationships they’ve built.
The Camino is well-known for its ability to bring people together, as just one example. Single travellers find they aren’t alone by the end of their trek. People that go in groups find that over miles walked they connected with those they came with and have added new friends to their group. Many discover friendships that last well beyond the days of pilgrimage.
REASON 7: You simply want to go on an adventure.
Sometimes, the reasons to go on a Catholic pilgrimage doesn’t fully explain itself. You can answer the call to pilgrimage because of an itch, a whim, an impulse. We’ve never seen someone regret it.
Adventures can be even more rewarding when you go into them with few expectations, preconceived ideas of the experiences, or too much time to make plans. So make sure your passport is up-to-date and be ready to answer in the affirmative when the trip of a lifetime comes to call.
Ready to go on an adventure of your own? Whatever your reason for pilgrimage may be, we invite you to discover more about the destinations we travel to each year.