Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A Couple of Quotations on Pilgrimage

These are from The First Crusade (abridged edition), by Steven Runciman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980):

The desire to be a pilgrim is deeply rooted in human nature.  To stand where those that we reverence once stood, to see the very sites where they were born and toiled and died, gives us a feeling of mystical contact with them and is a practical expression of our homage.  And if the great men of the world have their shrines to which their admirers come from afar, still more do men flock eagerly to those places where, they believe, the Divine has sanctified the earth.  (p. 21) 
But the journey was still sufficiently long and arduous to appeal to the common sense as well as to the religious feeling of medieval man.  It was wise to remove a criminal for the space of a year or more from the scene of his crime.  The discomforts and expense of his journey would be a punishment to him, while the achievement of his task and the emotional atmosphere of his goal would give him a feeling of spiritual cleansing and strength.  He returned a better man.  (p. 25)

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