Millions of people each year embark on spiritual pilgrimages around the world , to deepen their faith and gain wisdom.
The following 13 pilgrimages draw people who, in their spirit or body, are in need of healing. In these sacred places they seek the spiritual power of renewal and wellness. What spiritual pilgrimages of healing have you been on? Share them in the comments section.
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Located roughly 30 miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, El Santuariò de Chimayó
is called the "Lourdes of America." Legend holds that a wooden crucifix appeared
on the hillside in the early 19th century where the chapel now stands, several times mysteriously returning to the same spot after being transported to a nearby church. A chapel was built on the site as a result, and thousands of pilgrims now visit it every year. Many come particularly for the healing dirt that sits beneath the church, accessible by a small well in an attached hermitage.
The southern French town of Lourdes
is a popular site where Catholics celebrate the 1858 apparition of the Virgin Mary to shepherd girl Bernadette Soubirous
. Millions of pilgrims visit Lourdes every year to bathe in and drink from the spring believed to have curative powers. Visitors can also attend Mass, which is observed every day, and visit the home of Bernadette, who was canonized in 1933.
Naag Mandir is the temple for a Hindu snake god
and houses the mysterious "growing stone." First discovered over a century ago, according to legend, the stone was originally just two feet tall
and continued growing over the years. The stone now stands at about 15 feet tall. Devotees come to the temple to pray for fertility
, health and good fortune.
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Medjugorje has been an important pilgrimage site since 1981 when six local "visionaries" began seeing apparitions of the Virgin Mary
. The apparitions delivered messages to each of villagers over the years that followed, though the Catholic Church has been divided
over the authenticity of these visions. Nonetheless, over 30 million pilgrims have visited the site in search of miracles, visions and spiritual healing.
The Ganges River
, known as Ganga Ma or "Mother Ganges," runs from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal coming to a feat of 1,560 miles. To the many people living around it, and those who believe in its majesty, this river represents life, purity, and a goddess. It is believed that anyone who touches these purifying waters is cleansed of sin.
Though not as highly visited by pilgrims as other holy sites, Mount Kailash is a sacred place
for Hindus, Jains and people of the pre-Buddhist Bön tradition. Hindus believe it to be the home of the god Shiva
, and Jains believe it to the place where Rishaba attained liberation. The pilgrimage to Mount Kailash involves an arduous multi-day walk around the base of the mountain
with the hope of increasing psychic awareness and moving from ignorance to enlightenment.
Char Dham, meaning "Four Abodes,"
actually refers to four sites - Yamunotri, Gangotri, Sri Kedarnathji and Sri Badrinathji - that make up one of the most holy pilgrimages for Hindus. Undertaking the journey to these sites is believed to ensure the pilgrim's release from the cycle of reincarnation. The pilgrimage was reportedly initiated in the 8th century by philosopher Adi Shankaracharya
and has since been completed by millions of pilgrims
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The Western Wall is one of the most sacred sites in Judaism, as it is all that remains of the Second Temple of Jerusalem
, believed to have been destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. Visitors of all religions are able to approach the wall, and many pilgrims slip pieces of paper with prayers and petitions into the cracks between the stones. As a remnant of time past, many see the Western Wall as a symbol of hope and regeneration
in the face of adversity.
The Golden Temple
is located in Amritsar, India and is historically a central religious site for the Sikh faith. Representing a strong Sikh foundation and distinct identity and heritage, the Golden Temple averages fifty thousand visitors daily
. However, anybody, despite cast or creed can come to this open pilgrimage spot to seek spiritual comfort, solace, and perform individual prayers.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Basilica is the most popular Marian shrine in the world, visited by pilgrims from around the world praying for the Virgin's intercession
. According to the Catholic News Agency
, the "Lady from Heaven" appeared to a poor Indian named Saint Juan Diego and identified herself as the Mother of the True God. She told him to build a church on the site and left an image of herself on his tilma, a low-grade cactus-cloth. According to this source, the tilma could not have stayed in tact for more than 20 years but remains in place even after 470 years.
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The Mata Vaishno Devi temple is located in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir near the town of Katra. It is one of the most revered sites for Hindus, visited every year by over eight million devotees
. It is believed that pilgrims will first hear a call from the Divine Mother
to visit the shrine, after which they will embark on the journey to receive her love and blessings.
One of several reputed holy wells throughout Cornwall, Madron Well stands near the remains of a 12th century chapel and is named for the Christian Saint Madern. The well's significance as a holy site is believed to derive, however, from pre-Christian pagan worship
. To this day pilgrims visit Madron Well in pursuit of spiritual and physical healing, ripping pieces of clothing
near their afflicted areas and tying them to the branches of nearby trees.