Pilgrimage isn't a christian invention, it has already existed in ancient civilizations.
However, the Christianity is going to give a new inspiration at the pilgrimage.
Losing its obligation and stereotyped character, it became for the pilgrim the mean
to renew with places where Christ and saints lived.
The Christ's tomb was visited and venerated by some pilgrims from the fourth century.
The "Burdigalien" was the first book giving informations about the travel from Bordeaux
to Jerusalem. It's the ancestor of pilgrimage guides.
Those ones, more comprehensive, gave at the travellers some advice, from the choice
of stopping places, to the customs and stories more and less truthful.
The cult of saints was very popular, each town had "its" martyr which the relics
were venerated by everybody. It existed a real market of relics because they were
very desired. Bodies of saints were cutted in several parts and distributed on several
communities, then, closed into a reliquary which could have the shape of the part
of body. The falsification was important, sanctuaries had the same relic and noboby
shocked by that !
It would seem that the reason the most frequent of pilgrimage was the hope to have
again a good health for oneself or other people. The need to do penance was very
The most important pilgrimages were Jerusalem in first (pilgrim was named "Paulmier"),
afterwards Rome (pilgrim was named "Romée" or "Romieux") and then St Jacques de Compostelle
(pilgrim was named "Jacquot", "Jacquet" or "Jacquaire").
But those travels weren't a little project, financially and also for all the risks.
However, numerous pilgrims didn't go farther.
A pilgrimage could be made by a lonely pilgrim. But a group of pilgrims could be
protected by himself against brigands and loneliness.
In principle, pilgrim should walk but the most rich rode a horse or mule.
Itineraries were marked out : Montjoies showed the dangerous places or viewpoints
to discover a place of pilgrimage ; wayside crosses, chapels or other oratories which
were halts to pray and rest.
The road hospices on the great pathes of pilgrimage welcame the poor pilgrims in
order to give them food an comfort.
People should help pilgrims but those ones should pray into each church and chapel,
tell their beads during the trip. They also should drive a symbolic cross at the
top of Port de Cize, be purified at the end of travel and bring a stone like a gift
for the pilgrimage of St Jacques de Compostelle.
Consequently, pilgrimage was a great adventure, with a lot of surprises, good or
bad, and intense emotion.