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Yesterday in Ireland we had the annual Irish Pilgrimage to Cruach Phádraig (764 metres) in Co. Mayo. About 15,000 people climbed what is called "The Reek".
Why do people, I ask myself, undertake such difficult journeys to what, down through the ages, have become sacred places. We have the well-known Cammino in Spain, the Shrine at Lourdes, and many others in different creeds and cultures. Hundreds of thousands of young people are at at the moment with Pope Francis at Warsaw in Poland.
What are people seeking? If it is God they seek at the end of their journey they will not find him there unless they take him with them. They must find God within themselves first.

It would seem that there is an inherent need in us to "move out" and identify with places, with people, with ancestors in faith, with some kind of "spiritual world". The practice seems to have appealed to the Celtic imagination and to have suited the Irish character and temperament.

Hence, the traditional annual difficult pilgrimage undertaken by thousands yesterday to Cruach Phádraig (764 metres) in the west of Ireland. Some even do the climb in their bare feet! On the journey they feel they need not fear. As the ancient Irish saint, Columba, wrote:

"Alone with none but thee, my God,
I journey on my way;
What need I fear, when thou art near,
O King of night and day?
More safe am I within thy hand,
Than if a host did round me stand".


That's an interesting question. People have been making pilgrimages to special places since forever I guess.
originally the pilgrimage was a journey of penance

maybe some of that still exists

but there is always "the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow" impulse
"i will be who i want to be if only..."

but as Judy Garland found out in the Wizard of Oz - "there's no place like home"