Pilgrimages come in many shapes and sizes, and each has its own unique story. Some are exclusive to members of a religious group, and others are open to visitors from outside the group. Although most pilgrimages are extensive and can span several weeks or even months, many are split into manageable sections that you can participate in.
If you want to go on a pilgrimage but don’t know where to start, consider learning more about your family history. By creating a family tree on FamilySearch.org, you can discover where your ancestors came from and choose a pilgrimage that they might have gone on or lived along.
The following are just a few of the more well-known pilgrimages that are currently open to anyone willing to participate.
Location: Southeastern England, United Kingdom
Distance: 192 kilometers (119 miles)
This pilgrimage begins in Winchester, Hampshire England, and leads to the Canterbury Cathedral and the shrine where Archbishop Thomas Beckett was buried.
Location: Middle East
Distance: 1,078 kilometers (670 miles)
Abraham’s Path links ancient sites across the Middle East with the life events of the ancient biblical figure Abraham.
Location: Rome, Italy
Distance: 1,700 kilometers (1,056 miles)
The Via Francigena follows the ancient trail taken by pilgrims centuries ago to visit the tombs of Peter and Paul. It takes visitors directly through the heart of Europe.
Camino de Santiago
Distance: 804 kilometers (500 miles)
Camino de Santiago has been a pilgrimage place for centuries. Many people travelled by land and even by sea to visit the shrine of Saint James the Great.
Kumano Kodo’s Seven Trails
Distance: Trails range from 4.5–17 kilometers (3–10.5 miles)
These trails weave along beautiful landscape and ancient shrines. They have been traveled for over 1,000 years by pilgrims from all segments of society.
St. Olav’s Way
Distance: 640 kilometers (400 miles)
People have been walking this trail since the Iron Age. It leads to Niadros Cathedral and the tomb of Saint Olav and has been named “The King’s Road” because nearly every king of Norway has traveled it.
Lagunas de las Huaringas
Distance: 1,198 kilometers (1,929 miles)
This pilgrimage place is in the mountains of Huancabamba. There are a series of 14 lagoons that are believed since ancient times to bring healing and energy to visitors.
If you want to learn more about different cultures, geographies, and histories, visiting pilgrimage places is a very hands-on way to do it. A pilgrimage allows you to explore an area with the five senses rather than simply scrolling through online images or reading articles. You can experience the same climate and see the same sights that your ancestors may have experienced as part of their everyday lives. Whichever route you choose, we wish you happy travels!