Pilgrims are ... Pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Pilgrim tours
Pilgrimage tours are becoming increasingly popular in our time. Various large and not so travel agencies offer to visit the holy places. They promise that you will receive grace and spiritual enlightenment only by touching the shrines. Pilgrimage is becoming incredibly fashionable, because in the "high society" it is so nice to show off your piety by mentioning a trip to Jerusalem or Athos. But few people seriously think about what should be the real pilgrims. These are actually not the people who wander in crowds with cameras in the cities of Palestine and stand at the Wailing Wall with curiosity. Pilgrimage is something deeper and more spiritual that renews a person and elevates him above all worldly problems. Today our article is devoted to this particular topic.
Pilgrims - who are they?
The history of pilgrimage is rooted in the distant past. Back in the Old Testament, travel to certain places of prayer and sacrifice is mentioned. But the term itself came to us from the Latin language, in translation from it pilgrims are people who go on a journey to places of sacred significance for believers. In Latin, the word means "palm branch", because it symbolizes the entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem. In Russia, this symbol is replaced by young shoots of willow.
Brief description of the pilgrimage
Some people are firmly convinced that the pilgrim does not have nationality or religion during his journey. He is guided by faith in a single higher power, and to which religion he belongs - it does not matter. In fact, it is not. After all, every religious movement has its own holy places that must be visited. Moreover, certain time periods are scheduled when it is worth going to worship to certain shrines. For example, an Orthodox pilgrim considers it his duty to touch the Holy Sepulcher on Easter week. At this time, the soul of a true Christian is filled with incredible love, light, and piety.
Besides Christians, pilgrimage is very common among Muslims, Buddhists and Shinto. Also, quite often the residents of Nepal and India go to holy places. According to their religious beliefs, every resident of the country must go on pilgrimage at least once in their lives. Only after that can you arrange your own worldly life and start a family. And in the future it is not forbidden to visit the holy places more than once, it all depends on the spiritual development and the needs of the believer.
Some facts from the history of pilgrimage
We have already noted that in the New and Old Testament the first "walkings" to holy places are mentioned. But to call them full-fledged pilgrimages is still quite difficult. Historians believe that this movement was spread around the third century. During this period, there were fierce persecutions of Christians by the Romans, seeking to destroy almost all the reminders of Christ and even rename the cities in which the Savior worked wonders.
From the fourth century, when Christians ceased to be persecuted by the authorities, pilgrimage to the Holy Land became very common.Believers actively traveled and talked about the wonderful events that happened to them during their trip to places of worship.
In the fifteenth century, Catholic pilgrims were obliged to seek permission for their journey from the Pope, they donned special clothes that were sewn with a red cross. Many shipowners entered into special contracts with groups of pilgrims and accompanied them on the way. We can say that these were the first organized pilgrimage tours. After all, duties were paid for the group, everyone was provided with food and taken to the most famous holy places.
At the end of the nineteenth century, pilgrimage groups reached about three hundred people. Entire ships were hired to transport them, and such a journey could last more than one year.
Pilgrimage to Russia
The Orthodox pilgrim in Russia is a special kind of believer who is ready to go half the world to achieve his goal. Initially, such trips were chaotic and disorganized, but by the twelfth century, they became so widespread that the clergy were even forced to stop many worshipers from the long and difficult journey.From their trips the pilgrims brought a lot of interesting things. For example, Russian believers brought special clothes symbolizing their status from Constantinople. She "caught on" in Russia and became the hallmark by which one Orthodox pilgrim recognized the other.
Of course, over the course of several centuries, attitudes toward traveling to the Holy Land changed frequently. They almost completely stopped due to the unstable situation in the Middle East, then they were renewed again. Since the mid-nineteenth century, pilgrimage to Jerusalem has become increasingly popular among Orthodox Christians. Now interest in pilgrimage is growing not only among the church-going people, but also among those who make their first steps towards God.
Over the long years of "walking" to the saints, the destinations have been determined, which are priorities for Orthodox Christians. They can be represented by the following list:
- Greek Athos;
- the relics of Nicholas the Wonderworker (Italy);
- the right hand of John the Baptist (Cetina, Montenegro).
Of course, this is not a complete list of places where pilgrims come to worship.But for those who first go on a similar path, it is enough to visit one shrine. Do not get involved and try to reach the immense.
The position of the Orthodox Church in relation to the pilgrimage
Priests do not always relate unequivocally to traveling to the Holy Land. Indeed, in most cases, newly-made pilgrims treat them as something fashionable. But the holy places do not tolerate emptiness of soul and vanity in the hearts, so you should not be like fashion trends and rush to the charges, inspired by the stories of friends or work colleagues. The priests claim that the pilgrimage to the Holy Land should be targeted. That is, a person must clearly understand what he wants to receive during this trip. And the result of the pilgrimage cannot be expressed in something material, the main thing is spiritual nourishment and strengthening in the faith.
Preparation for the pilgrimage: the main stages
It may seem strange to the laity, but before going to holy places, pilgrims are prepared for some time. Usually, this is done only by church people who understand what a pilgrimage is.The preparatory stage can be divided into several mandatory points:
- gospel study;
- reading church literature on the place of pilgrimage;
- solicit permission to travel with the priest.
If you complete all the above points, then before your long-awaited journey you will be able to answer the question why you need a trip to holy places.
Organized pilgrim trips to Jerusalem: description and approximate cost
Today almost every person can go on a pilgrimage, for this you just need to contact a travel agency. Most of them organize special tours to holy places, most often travelers go to Jerusalem.
If we analyze all the offers on the tourist market, we can say with confidence that most of the trips do not last more than eight days. Usually they include not only Jerusalem, but several other places. The most popular pilgrimage route is Bethlehem - Jerusalem - the Jordan River. Orthodox visit these places during the week, for a short period of time they will visit several shrines and even be able to walk the path of Christ to Calvary.Obligatory point of the program is Cuvuclia - a place where, by assumption, the body of Christ was transferred after the crucifixion. The temple, built over an ancient cave, is a shrine for Christians of all denominations.
Such pilgrimages are made mainly from Moscow, and the cost of the voucher starts from fifty thousand rubles. This amount includes the flight Moscow-Tel Aviv, hotel accommodation, transfers and meals (breakfast).
Unfortunately, in the modern world, pilgrims are more often wealthy tourists who can afford an expensive tour than people who need spiritual development and renewal. That is why the concept of "walking to holy places" depreciates in society. But if you have inner heart thirst, as the clergy say, in holy places, and are ready to overcome a lot of difficulties in order to make a long way, then be sure that you are a real pilgrim blessed by God.