Tuesday, April 27, 2010

North American Pilgrimage

Of course, I'm planning the next. How can I not be? I like pilgrim life.

But where to go, and for what purpose? It got me thinking... why go so far? Is there a viable route in North America that would make a suitable pilgrimage? Would North Americans be open to the idea of a 'pilgrim' as something other than the group who landed at Plymouth Rock?

I googled around to create a shortlist of potentials. It must be historically significant, with a tradition of being a pilgrimage destination, and through an area suitable for walking, preferably breathtakingly beautiful. Ste Anne de Beaupré near Québec is a definite contender... it's status as a place of pilgrimage dates to 1658 when a miraculous cure was attributed there. The St Lawrence area of eastern Canada is certainly breathtakingly beautiful. And, I speak French.

Our Lady of Guadalupe - Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe - in Mexico City is another. It's first miracle and subsequent launch as a pilgrimage destination occurred in 1531. It's a huge pilgrimage site to this day, but I haven't seen any numbers about modern foot pilgrims. The Franciscans of the late 16th and early 17th centuries went throughout Mexico and the American southwest building missions, often on or near sites held sacred by the various Native American inhabitants. Many of these missions prompted by their own miracles are also pilgrimage sites, though not as famous as Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Both of these sound interesting and are therefore on 'the list'. Because I'm living in Denver at the moment, Guadalupe has slightly stronger appeal, though from a language perspective Ste Anne would be easier. Note to self... bone up on Mexican Spanish (really not hard to do in Denver).

Without even diving into the research necessary to open the front door and start walking, I know the first hurdle: Colorado, New Mexico, Chihuahua, and the rest of the Mexican states on the way to Mexico City are comprised of huge areas with few villages... no pilgrim houses to be sure, few ranch houses within a day's walking distance. This will be no Euro-pilgrimage. Methinks camping will be required... methinks a llama will be involved... let the planning begin!

4 comments:

The Solitary Walker said...

Anything involving a llama can't be a bad thing, I always think! Happy planning. SW

Margaret said...

"Methinks a llama will be involved"

Try Tibet!

J F F GrandsLieux said...

In "Wanderlust : A History of Walking" Rebecca Solnit mentions a pilgrimage destination in New Mexico : Chimayo.
Have you heard of it ?

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