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The Singular Pilgrim: Travels on Sacred…

The Singular Pilgrim: Travels on Sacred Ground (2003)

by Rosemary Mahoney

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A whole popedom of forms one pulsation of virtue can uplift and vivify.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
address to divinity students, July 15, 1838
To the memory of Margarita Baki
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On a Saturday morning at the end of May 1999 I left the town of Fakenham in Norfolk, England, and set off on the five-mile walk to the village of Walsingham.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0618446656, Paperback)

Sometimes purposeful, sometimes footloose, the act of undertaking a pilgrimage is "both a preparation for death and a hedge against it." So writes Rosemary Mahoney, who knows well whereof she speaks. A reluctant churchgoer, and less interested in religion per se than in the faith that underlies it, she travels in this absorbing narrative to some of the world’s great pilgrimage sites: Ireland’s Croagh Patrick, Lourdes, Santiago de Compostela, Canterbury, the banks of the Ganges. "As I got into the rhythm of it," she writes, "I found that the more I walked, the more I wanted to walk." Walk she does, over hundreds of miles, observing and recording along the way, talking with ascetics and skeptics, joining the multitude whose physical beings wander in order that their minds might turn toward the divine. And to what end is all this hard slogging? "Dunno, really," one of Mahoney’s fellow travelers shrugs. "When it’s done, you feel very good about it." Fans of travel narratives and religious memoirs alike will find much pleasure, and much on which to reflect, in Mahoney’s pages. --Gregory McNamee

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:03 -0400)

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The author explores the meaning and practice of religious pilgrimage as she recreates the Irish Catholic pilgrimage to Station Island, visits to holy sites in Israel, the Hindu pilgrimage to Varanasi, and a trip to Lourdes, among others.

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