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Getting Closer to God on Religious Pilgrimages in Gregory Chaucer's Cantebury Tales

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“Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,” said Gregory Chaucer in his book, The Canterbury Tales, meaning people long to go on religious pilgrimages. The act of pilgrimage during the Middle Ages had been a very popular and traditional practice in the Christian society. This visit to shrines or holy places was an act of religious devotion and played a role in the lives of many Europeans, especially those in the western regions of Medieval Europe. In order to understand the importance of pilgrimages, we will emphasize the purpose of pilgrimages, the diversity of pilgrims that took part in them, and the various shrines pilgrims visited.
The motive of going on a pilgrimage in Western Europe during the medieval period consists of several purposes. Pilgrims usually went due to a description of religious pilgrimage in the Bible. The Christians pilgrims followed a scripture in the Bible that stressed the activity of pilgrimage in life. This scripture was the word of St. Paul and Christ (Housley 654). It described how a follower of the Christian religion was a “wanderer of this world,” which is an indication of a pilgrim (654). The scripture also stressed the idea of how life on earth was a preparation for real life in heaven. Those biblical teachings were the motives of pilgrims getting closer to God during the Middle Ages. Another reason why Christians participated in pilgrimages was for cult relics (654). The cult relics were physical remains from dead saints. The objects ranged from sculptures to antiques consisting of spiritual powers like healing sickness and the answering of prayers. Although church hierarchy usually disregarded the idea of cult relics, cult relics had shown to perform miracles and provide healing powers accordi...

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...as sometimes full of hardship. Sometimes there could be obstacles including bad road conditions. On the other hand, bandits were usually accustomed to interrupting the pilgrimage process, especially barbarians. Although there were hardships, Christians always enjoyed partaking on this holy journey to praise their leader.

Work Cited
Bunyan, John. The Pilgrim’s Progress. New York: Signet Classic, 1981. Print.
Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales .Eds. A. Kent and Constance Hieatt. New York: Bantam, 1981. Print.
Housley, Norman. ”Pilgrimage, Western Europe.” Dictionary of the Middle Ages. Vol.9. Ed. Joseph R, Strayer. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1982. Print.
Knight, Judson. Middle Ages Almanac. Ed. Judy Galens. Detroit: UXL, 2001. Print.
Sumpton, Jonathon. The Age of Pilgrimage: The Medieval Journey to God. Mahwah, N.J: HiddenSpring, 2003. Print.
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