Georgia Frank

in The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Studies

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780199271566
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology


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Early Christian pilgrimage involved a journey to a place in order to gain access to sacred power, whether manifested in living persons, demarcated spaces, or specific objects. Movement towards the sacred site, as well as ritualized movements once at the destination, shaped pilgrimage. Places associated with the Bible drew large numbers of pilgrims from throughout the Empire. Yet, local martyrs' shrines and pilgrimage centres with international appeal drew visitors to Italy, Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt. Travel to sacred centres was common in Mediterranean religions. The Jewish pilgrimage festivals of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles drew large crowds to Jerusalem until the Temple's destruction in 70 CE. Early Christians maintained many of these practices. They gathered at the burial places of martyrs for prayers and held funerary banquets there.

Keywords: material culture; Christian pilgrimage; ritualized movements; sacred site; Bible; martyrs' shrines; funerary banquets

Article.  6890 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Christianity ; Religious Studies ; Sociology of Religion

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