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date: 24 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The practice of pilgrimage appears in many human cultures, but it has a particularly important role in medieval Christianity, as an institution that recognized that all Christians could potentially attain salvation, and could be active in their pursuit of that goal. The early crusades attest to this, and can best be understood when viewed as part of wider pilgrimage practices. Medieval pilgrimage allowed a physical approach to and contact with the numinous, investing certain places with particular power, and often creating material relics or objects of devotion even where none was strictly necessary (as with Marian shrines). There are rich sources—particularly miracle collections—via which we can see medieval pilgrimage experiences, and although these must be treated carefully for their literary/rhetorical inheritances, they do reveal something of a shared culture of belief. But, throughout the middle ages, we hear critical voices also; critical perhaps particularly because of the way that pilgrimage authorized social dislocation.

Keywords: Shrines, miracle collections, relics, crusade, healing

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