14 Pilgrimage in the footsteps of Jesus - Raymond Machado

posted Nov 14, 2018, 8:09 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 14, 2018, 8:09 AM ]
The human soul relentlessly yearns for The Divine - The Supreme Being. The mystery of one's being is embedded in each human mind, and it takes a lifetime to unravel the Unknown. For believers (theists), life from birth till death is a spiritual journey, a pilgrimage to reach heaven - the ultimate goal of life to be in union with God.

In the world today, we have Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, Taoism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, besides countless offshoots. Religions provide a myriad ways of worship to the faithful to beseech God or a deity for a happy and peaceful earthly life and blissful life hereafter. Many people undertake pilgrimages to shrines and places of saints, considered sacred by their respective religions, in order to thank God for blessings received or to ask for mundane favours and peaceful existence. Shrines may contain tombs, statues, pictures, relics or other objects of holy persons, which arouse devotion and veneration among their followers. Shrines are generally associated with founders of religions, sects, religious congregations or saints and martyrs, who are known for their heroic virtues, supernatural apparitions and miraculous occurrences. Usually churches, chapels, mausoleums, synagogues, mosques, temples and gurdwaras enshrine such objects that are periodically visited by pilgrims who seek spiritual assistance.

According to Pew Research, 84 per cent of the world's population believes in one deity or the other. Out of these, one third are Christians - 2.2 billion worldwide. Christians have been making pilgrimages to various holy places of saints for hundreds of years. The first pilgrimages were undertaken by Christians to places associated with Jesus' lifetime in the Holy Land - today located in Jordan, Israel and Egypt. But over the centuries, due to clashes between Jews, Christians and Muslims, pilgrimages to the Holy Land have faced difficulties.

Today, Rome, the Eternal City, remains the most popular site of pilgrimage for Christians around the world. Vatican City State in the centre of Rome is the headquarters of 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide, where the Supreme Pontiff - the Pope - resides. Pilgrimages to holy places in Jordan, Israel and Egypt are considered most important, where Christians long to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and have an unforgettable lifetime experience. Other renowned Catholic sites of pilgrimages are Marian shrines at Fatima in Portugal, Santiago de Compostela in Spain, Lourdes in France, Guadalupe in Mexico, Aparecida in Brazil, Vailankanni in southern India and so on.