Proposed Title: Pilgrim in an individualistic context

Kaj Noschis

( ) Traditional pilgrimage may be compared to migratory bird movements: a collective repetitive and unquestioned urge to travel long distances with considerable effort. Among Christians, some Catholic groups experience pilgrimage in this way also today, with annual journeys to holy places like Lourdes, Fatima, Compostela. Among other Christians such as European Protestants, where the relationship to the spiritual dimension is predominantly individualistic, pilgrimage has lost its collective appeal after being stopped by the Reformation in early Sixteenth Century. Yet the effort of traveling (and particularly walking) long distances towards a spiritually significant place while surrounded by nature, its beauty and challenges, has recently gained attractiveness for numerous non-practising people also of Protestant and generally Christian origin. The paper considers this phenomenon and discusses possibilities for a systematic view. A correspondence might be suggested between moments of an inner (or searched for inner) journey and those of an outer journey such as an effort-demanding spiritually oriented trek. In 1997 on the occasion of the 1000 years celebrations of Trondheim, efforts were made to reawaken the ancient pilgrim's route from the South to the North of Norway. Pilgrim wanderings to St Olav's shrine in Nidaros - built into a Gothic Cathedral (Trondheim's Cathedral is the most Northern in the world) in the XIIth Century - began shortly after St Olav's death in 1030 and lasted up to the Reformation in 1537. Today, with more touristic than religious ambitions the project of reopening the pilgim route has again become a reality in this Protestant county. This case is discussed in some detail.

Kaj Noschis (e-mail: kaj.noschis@epfl.ch)

Return to Submitted Abstracts List Page

Return to Pilgrimage Workshop Home Page