What is Pilgrimage
In the Christian tradition, pilgrimage is an intentional journey, made in faith, to a sacred place, for the purpose of seeking heavenly aid, and ultimately deeper union with God. Christians first made pilgrimages to sites connected with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Shortly there after, pilgrimages started being made to Rome and other sites associated with the Apostles and early Christian martyrs. Then to places that held the relics of saints or witnessed apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God.
The Joy of Pilgrimage
Pilgrimage can be a life-changing and transformative experience. Pilgrims don't simply visit a pilgrimage site as a tourist, they come seeking something, often profound, and somewhere along the journey they're helped to find it. Going on pilgrimage may give the pilgrim a new perspective, the answer to a prayer, deeper insight into themselves and their lives, healing, or renewed faith. Pilgrimage helps to illuminate the journey of life by helping us focus on 'what really matters', grow in a spirit of gratitude, and rediscover the joy of giving for the sake of others.
It is All About the Journey
Before beginning your pilgrimage, it is always best to take the time to reflect on why you are going. What is stirring in your heart? What is your desire you wish to put before God? Are there others I wish to pray for as I journey? Are there any spiritually-significant places along the way that I can stop at? By the same token, be attentive, as you travel, to the messages that you may receive from the Holy Spirit from unexpected sights, sounds, and people you encounter. And perhaps you might mark your journey in some way by keeping a journal, taking photos, sketching, or writing poetry. Learning to be adaptable is the mark of a true pilgrim – its often when the best things happen. Accept that adversity is as much a part of pilgrimage as the joy and gladness that comes from reaching your destination.
Your Pilgrimage to Martyrs' Shrine
Martyrs' Shrine, a national pilgrimage site with nearly 400 years of history, welcomes tens of thousands of pilgrims every year from all types of faiths, cultures and beliefs. At Martyrs' Shrine we try to respond to the unique journey of each pilgrim. Choose from one of our self-guided prayer walks, attend our liturgies, have a conversation with one of the Jesuit Fathers, light a candle and offer a prayer intention, explore our gardens, or simply sit in prayer with St. Jean de Brébeuf and his companions asking our Lord Jesus for his healing touch in your life. Also, be sure to check out other daytrip ideas that might be appealing to you.
History of Pilgrimage
Rooted in the Judaic tradition, during the early days of Christianity, the faithful adopted the practice of pilgrimage, traveling to the Holy Lands, visiting various places associated with the life of Jesus Christ. During the early medieval period, this practice grew, and incorporated an element of penance and reconciliation. By the tenth century, it also assumed the character and form of a devotional tourism. In time, as various shrines, dedicated to a growing number of saints, were erected across the world, pilgrimage an act of devotion that included not only penitential themes, but also those of intercession and gratitude to God for favours granted. For almost a century, Martyrs' Shrine continues in these traditions, as a space of pilgrimage, where each visitor can journey towards a deeper union with God.
Join a Scheduled Pilgrimage
Numerous pilgrimages occur each year at Martyrs' Shrine, ranging from several hundred to several thousand poeple. These events are special in that they represent a variety of ethnic groups that now call Canada their home. Typically groups visit with their own priests from their local parishes and celebrate Mass in their native tongue. Different ethnic groups often bring with them their own sense of piety, religious reverence, and cultural diversity as they celebrate cuisine, music and dance.
See our Events Calendar for our list of upcoming pilgrimages. They are great opportunities for friends to reconnect as well as offer an opportunity for new pilgrims to join in the festivities. Learn about new cultures and traditions as our pilgrims reconnect to the faith. View our upcoming pilgrimage schedule to see if there is one right for you. Don't see one that you suits you? Well contact us today and we can help you start one.
Looking for a more authentic pilgrim experience that follows the inland routes of our trailblazing forefathers? Explore The Pilgrim Route, which is a 89km route from Toronto to the Shrine.
Stay With Us
We understand that your experience may not transform you in a single day, and we encourage you to take the time that you need. Stay with us or stay with our community accommodators.
If you’re looking to plan ahead, look no further than Martyrs' Shrine's year-round annual events calendar, with renowned events each season including pilgrimages and concerts.
"God never said that the journey would be easy, but He did say that the arrival would be worthwhile." - Max Lucado