Why Were Pilgrimages Important in the Middle Ages?

Pilgrimages were important in the Middle Ages because Christians believed that bringing themselves as close to God as possible by traveling towards a physical place was the ultimate spiritual act, and they did so in order to fulfill a vow, ask for a miracle cure, deepen their own faith or expiate a crime committed. Christian pilgrimages occurred most often during the Middle Ages; however, there are many other religious groups that go on pilgrimages, including Muslims.

Throughout the Middle Ages, theChristian pilgrimage was a recognized expression of a person's piety. The economic background or social status of the person did not matter because all people of faith made these pilgrimages.

The pilgrimages were essential for Christians who wanted to feel close to Jesus. While the King James Version of the Bible states in Matthew 18:20 that Jesus says, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them," the people wanted to see where he had lived and grown up. The pilgrimages took them to the Holy Land. During the fourth century when the Middle Ages took place, the Roman Empire unified the entire Mediterranean world so that the pilgrims did not face as many problems traveling. These people lived monastic lives while on the journey, though they returned home afterward to their normal way of living.