United Kingdom: Like Ireland, the United Kingdom has several pilgrimage sites tied to ancient Christianity or Celtic Christianity, predating the arrival of St. Augustine and the founding of Canterbury Cathedral.…
A Common Legacy: Learning about Europe’s Cultural and Historical Heritage through Trekking
There are a number of common factors across Europe that one identifies with the development of ancient or medieval pilgrimage routes or Caminos. These include for example:
Pagan or druid routes later adopted as Christian pilgrimages, such as the Callis Janus along which the French route on the Camino de Santiago developed or Monserrat in Catalunya, Spain as well as the Tochar Padraig in County Mayo, Ireland.
The Apostles followed by the earliest missionaries such as Remigius, Patrick, Cathaldus, Aidan, Andrew the Scot, Augustine of Canterbury, Columba, Ninian, Willibrord and Boniface, Cyril and Methodius spreading the, then, new faith among nations;
Ascetics, hermits, reformers, philisophers and scholars whose way of life and teachings drew pilgrims to them. These included Hilda, Brigit, Kevin, Finbarr, Furvey, Finian, Venerable Bede, Jerome, Dominic de Guzman, Augustine of Hippo, Ignatius of Loyola, Francis of Assisi, Anthony of Padua, Cajetan, Thomas Aquinas and Catherine of Sienna among others.
Martyrs who drew pilgrims to their place of martyrdom.
Relics, Religious art that during the 1st and 2nd millennium found a home in Europe (such as the remains of the apostle James in Galicia, Spain; the relics of apostle Bartholomew in Lipari, the sarcophagus of the Bishop Nicholas in Bari and the Marian house of Loreto in Italy.
Old Roman, Frankish and Norman roads primarily across continental Europe have also facilitated the spread of Caminos from the as far west as Great Britain, as South as the Mediterranean islands, north even beyond the Rhine and further to the east to present day Asia Minor and Georgia.
One finds among the oldest pilgrimage routes in Christianity the pilgrimage to the Holy Lands (then Palestine, Lebanon and Syria), Rome, Santiago de Compostela (especially as the Spanish Reconquista started gaining ground and the Crusaders also lost the Holy Lands) and later on the ‘Journey to the Holy Relics between Maastricht, Aachen and Kornelimünster. In the British Isles and Ireland routes undertaken by the 1st millennium saints evangelizing the Celtic, Gaelic and Anglo-Saxon tribes also because pilgrimage routes. The earliest pilgrimage ‘travelogues’ are perhaps the ‘Mirabilia Urbis Romae’ and the Codex Calixtinus (Liber Sancti Jacobi) both of the early 12th century.
Today over 50 routes across some 20 countries in Europe have been identified. UNESCO, European Union and various national funds and initiatives have greatly aided the development of several of these routes as they were increasingly recognized as unifying cultural and historical forces transcending even national boundaries. The following are a few of the ancient routes that have been given life again in recent decades.
Ancient pilgrimages of northern, western and central Europe.
Switzerland: St. Meinrad, Einsiedeln is linked to the ancient hermitage of St. Meinrad; now a Benedictine monastery. Einsiedeln is on the Via Jacobi, the route of St. James passing through…
Slovakia: Marianska hora, Levoca was a 13th century chapel to which visitations of the blessed Virgin are attributed. Today there is a basilica on the site of visitations. http://slovakia.travel/en/the-pilgrimage-on-the-marianska-hora-in-levoca-july Slovakia…
Spain: Spain is, of course, most renowned for the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela or the Way of St. James (Via Jacobi or Jakobsweg). Although this is being listed as…
Portugal: Portugal has a number of pilgrimage routes but the most popular, such as Our Lady of Fatima and Our Lady of Sameiro are not ancient routes.
Poland: Jasna Góra Monastery in Częstochowa and the monastery founded in 1382 which attracts millions of pilgrims annually. Wambierzyce, Silesian Jerusalem, a pilgrimage destination since the 16th century.
Norway: Olavsweg (St. Olaf Camino), Nidaros. A pilgrimage from Oslo to Nidaros, the site where in St. Olaf evangelized Vikings. https://pilegrimsleden.no/de/
Netherlands: Chapel of the Heilige Stede, Amserdam. A pilgrimage to the site of a 1347 miracle. When the chapel became Protestant in the 16th century the pilgrimage was forbidden but…
Malta: Pilgrimage of Saint Gregory the Great. An annual pilgrimage was initiated by Bishop Cubelles in 1543 to pray for the intentions of Pope Paul III who was endeavouring to…
Lithuania: Samogitian Calvary, Plungė district municipality, Lithuania. A town with a Catholic tradition dating back to the 12th century where a pilgrimage developed later in the 18th century because of…