In this essay I will discuss how medieval pilgrimages were considered to be a cultural phenomenon. Overall there were many motivations for pilgrims to participate in the act of a pilgrimage. Elaborate excessive artwork led to competitions at pilgrimage sites. Medieval pilgrimages changed Christians along with other religious people, spiritually and emotionally. Pilgrims went on journeys that were over long distances that proved to be physical and mental hardships. Before they left they would receive a blessing after a full confession to a priest or Bishop, mostly if their pilgrimage was to be a journey of penance. Christians believed that these particular pilgrimages would help them in a number of ways. They believed that the journey would deepen his or her faith, would cure the impossible disease or illness, or just bring them closer to God. The beginning pilgrimages started off by traveling to the places where Jesus and the Apostles lived while on earth. Constantine was the first Roman emperor that believed in Christianity. With him believing, and respecting what the pilgrimage stood for, Constantine constructed three major sites designed for major pilgrimages; such as, the Basilica in Jerusalem at the place where Christ was crucified, the Holy Sepulcher which was the site of Jesus’ burial and resurrection, and finally in Bethlehem Constantine commissioned another church over the cave said to be Jesus’ birthplace. (Sorabella)
Even though the three sites said above were the most popular of pilgrimages, “Rome became another destination for pilgrims because it was easier access for European pilgrims than the Holy land.” (Sorabella) Rome had many relics of saints and martyrs which over a period of
time became a reason to set foot on a pilgrimage. Many would flock to see a saint’s hand or the Virgin Mary’s veil.
Art played a huge role in this cultural phenomenon. Having many relics all over Europe sparked many opportunities for