Why Did Pilgrims Travel to Canterbury?

Pilgrims traveled, and still do, to Canterbury Cathedral to visit the grave of Saint Thomas of Canterbury. Saint Thomas was killed for opposing the anti-Catholic views of King Henry II of England and is venerated by the Catholic Church as a saint and as a martyr for the cause of Christianity.

The Pilgrims' Way is the road taken by countless pilgrims to the shrine of Saint Thomas. It follows the landscape from Winchester to Canterbury, providing a path for travelers to come and pay their respects at the shrine. Today it is seldom used as there are modern means by which the cathedral may be accessed.

The cathedral is in itself a destination simply because it is the center of Catholic tradition in England. Thomas Becket, later Saint Thomas, was murdered on its grounds. It also boasts incredible architecture including famed stained glass and many other statues, artistic works and relics of the faith.

The cathedral is the beginning of a path of pilgrimage which extends beyond the shores of the British Isles and into continental Europe. In Europe pilgrims continue on to Spain and visit many of the holy centers of Christian life in the Medieval period and the Middle Ages which have now become modern spiritual hubs.