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Pilgrimages Can Help Unchurched Travelers

A travel website predicts that pilgrimages will be one of the biggest travel trends in 2023. In an extensive research, Booking.com found that pilgrimages are becoming popular among tourists with almost half (44%) wanting to go on meditation or mindfulness retreats.

Christians in the U.K. hope this information could be a new way of encouraging more people to find God. Andrea Campanale, a licensed lay pioneer in Southwark Diocese who offers pilgrimage tours, also noticed the increase of programs on pilgrimages. “It’s not just people of faith who want to engage in that, but people who are interested in spirituality, perhaps at a transition point in their lives, and they’re looking for some sense of guidance or direction,” she said.

I also think there is a real hunger for meaning and a sense of identity. —Andrea Campanale, lay pioneer in Southwark Diocese

She explained, “I also think there is a real hunger for meaning and a sense of identity. We are post Brexit and Covid and I think we are really struggling with a sense of who we are.”

Campanale’s ‘Spiritual Practices Pilgrimages’ provides tours that explore ancient practices by visiting sacred sites in the British Isles. The program will be launched on March 7 and its first pilgrimage is scheduled for Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in September. “The idea of these pilgrimages is to tap into a native Christianity that was indigenous to these soils and is rooted very much in the landscape,” she said.

The former Church Mission Society partner reasoned that when the pandemic hit, people turned to nature to destress and cope with the health crisis. “So to actually find the divine in nature seems like a very natural thing for people – perhaps more so than going to a church building.”

“I want to introduce those who are interested in spirituality to a Christianity native to the British Isles that found connection with God in nature, encountered a wild Holy Spirit inspiring miraculous adventures and expressed devotion to the divine in sacrifice, community, hospitality and beautifully skilled arts and crafts,” Campanale continued. “I think this will resonate with people searching for meaning and an experience of God rooted in our own unique history and landscape.”

UK-based tour operator Audley Travel also predicted that many tourists now prefer going to destinations away from the crowds. Included in its destinations is a pilgrimage route in Japan. The route was formerly used by the Imperial Family and now, pilgrims can make offerings and perform rituals. The scenic trails of Kumano Kodo in Honshu “follows in the footsteps of people from all levels of Japanese society who, for more than 1,000 years, have walked to the three Grand Shrines on the Kii Peninsula.”

A pilgrimage is an opportunity for tourists to connect with their beliefs and achieve spiritual fulfillment. It can also be a chance for unchurched travelers to shift their mindset on their spirituality. There are many renowned pilgrimage routes that have been visited by millions of people and new sites opening up to those who want lesser-known destinations. Each pilgrimage will enrich one’s soul and improve a person’s mental health.

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