Historical-Theological Models of Pilgrimage as a resource for Faith Tourism
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Pilgrimage is often seen as a physical journey to a sacred destination fixed by custom, destination-centred and broadly penitential in tone. The work of anthropologists in the last century broadened definitions to consider pilgrimage, across a range of faiths, in terms of a journey of transition and formation of identity. More recent historical scholarship has critiqued the longer development of our idea of pilgrimage, as well as its theological structures and markers. This diachronic approach to pilgrimage has also considered its origins with respect to early Christian conceptions of the life of the Christian in society and found resonances for patterns of lay pilgrimage in early monastic ideas. Such historical-theological dimension of research into pilgrimage provides a useful platform from which we can interrogate the idea of ‘faith tourism’ or ‘pilgrimage tourism’. Many people of faith visit particular churches and holy sites to invoke their historic dimensions as well as to see what is presently on such sites. Visitors seek to re-enact historical narratives in the performance of certain pilgrimages and liturgies associated with them. Historical studies of theology thus may identify narratives that drive choices of action in pilgrimage. An historical reflection on pilgrimage may also be productive in widening definitions of pilgrimage for future development and may offer ideas for development of resources for the traveller.
Wooding, J. M. (2013) 'Historical-Theological Models of Pilgrimage as a resource for Faith Tourism', Journal of Tourism Consumption and Practice, 5(2), p.61-72