Here is the English abstract of Dr. Seyed Reza Qaemi’s (Faculty Member, Department of Philosophy and Theology, Shahid Motahari University, Tehran, Iran) presentation in the 1st pre-con meeting of the conference “Theology of Pilgrimage" which was held by Shahid Motahari University on May 20, 2023, at Tehran, Iran.
The Genealogy of Pilgrimage in Catholic Christianity
One of the religious rituals in various religions is pilgrimage. This act has a prominent position in Christianity, especially Catholicism. Since Christianity considers Jesus Christ as the manifestation of divinity on earth, according to the Catholic Church, the actions of Jesus Christ are considered divine revelations. This means that the Church, as the representative of Christ, is responsible for overseeing these actions. One of these actions is pilgrimage. In other words, since Jesus Christ went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Christians are also obligated to go on a pilgrimage. In the early centuries of Christianity, this pilgrimage was exclusive to Jerusalem, but gradually the graves of the apostles, saints, and martyrs also became pilgrimage destinations for Christians. This pilgrimage had an external aspect, which included visiting the terrestrial Jerusalem or the tombs of religious figures, accompanied by supplication, repentance, and seeking intercession. However, the internal aspect of pilgrimage, from the perspective of Catholicism based on the Bible, is living like a pilgrim in this world and traveling to the heavenly city of Jerusalem. According to Christian belief, humanity was expelled from paradise due to the original sin of Adam and Eve, but Jesus Christ, through his crucifixion, atoned for the sins of humanity and reconciled God and humans. This sacrifice of Jesus Christ enabled humans to return to their original position and heavenly life. Therefore, a Christian is a traveler in the world who must return to their original position, just like a pilgrim on a journey who has little attachment to worldly affairs and constantly remains a traveler to the heavenly city of Jerusalem. Reaching this heavenly city is not only achieved through a pilgrim-like way of life, but also requires a guide who shows the path and serves as a savior. This guide is no one but Jesus Christ.
Translator: Mahdi Qasemi