the United States the word "Pilgrims" usually refers to the
English settlers of New
England, who celebrated the "First Thanksgiving" with the Native Americans in
(lat. peregrinus) is one who undertakes
, literally 'far afield'.
This is traditionally a visit to a place of some religious or
historic significance; often a considerable distance is traveled.
include a Christian or Jew visiting Jerusalem or a Muslim visiting Mecca.
and the making of pilgrimages are common in many religions, including the faiths in ancient Egypt, Persia in the
Mithraic period, India, China, and
Japan. The Greek and
Roman customs of consulting the
gods at local oracles,
such as those at Dodona or Delphi, both in
Greece, are widely known.
In Greece, pilgrimages could
either be personal or state-sponsored.
early period of Hebrew history, pilgrims traveled to Shiloh,
Dan, Bethel, and eventually Jerusalem, a practice followed by other Abrahamic religions. The great Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca (now in
Arabia), is obligatory for every able Muslim.
Islamic devotional pilgrimages, particularly to the tombs of Shia Imams
saints, are numerous. The early
Christians made pilgrimages to the scenes of the Passion of Christ in Jerusalem.
After Jerusalem had been occupied by the
, Christians secured the liberty of
pilgrimage, on payment of a tax by treaty
Medieval military orders, such as the Knights Templar
arose to protect the
pilgrims on their journeys.
While religious pilgrims usually travel toward a specific
destination, a physical location is not a necessity. One group of
pilgrims in early Celtic
were the Peregrinari Pro Christ
(Pilgrims for Christ), or "white martyrs". They left their homes to
wander in the world. This sort of pilgrimage was an ascetic
religious practice, as the pilgrim left
the security of home and the clan
unknown destination, in complete trust of Divine Providence
. These travels often
resulted in the founding of new abbeys
spreading Christianity among the pagan population in Britain
as well as in continental Europe
A cultural pilgrimage, while also about personal journey, involves
a secular response. Destinations for such pilgrims can include
historic sites of national or cultural importance, and can be
defined as places "of cultural significance: an artist's home, the
location of a pivotal event or an iconic destination." An example might be a
baseball fan visiting Cooperstown,
New York. Destinations for cultural pilgrims include
examples such as Auschwitz concentration camp, Gettysburg Battlefield, the Ernest Hemingway House or even Disneyland. Cultural pilgrims may also travel on
religious pilgrimage routes, such as the Way of St.
James, with the perspective of making it a historic or
architectural tour rather than a religious experience.
Secular pilgrims also exist under communist regimes. These devotional but
strictly secular pilgrims visited locations such as the Mausoleum of
Lenin or Mausoleum of Mao Zedong, or the Birthplace of Karl Marx.
Such visits were sometimes
Many national and international leaders have gone on pilgrimages
for both personal and political reasons.
Traditional folk song about a pilgrim