Pilgrim (religion), one who visits some holy place with religious intent. Pilgrimages are characteristic of many religions, such as those of ancient Egypt, Persia in the Mithraic period, India, China, and Japan. The Greek and Roman custom of consulting the gods at local oracles, such as those at Dodona or Delphi, both in Greece, is widely known. In the early period of Hebrew history, pilgrimages were made to Shiloh and Dan (both in what is now Israel) and to Bethel (now Beitin, Jordan). The great Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca (now in Saudi Arabia), a survival of pagan times, is obligatory for every Muslim, and other Islamic devotional pilgrimages, particularly to the tombs of saints, are numerous. Al Qayraw?n in Tunisia, Ouezzane in Morocco, Karbal?’ in Iraq, and Mashhad (Meshed) in Iran are sacred Muslim cities. Benares (now V?r?nasi), India, is a renowned place of pilgrimage for Hindus.
The early Christians made pilgrimages to the scenes of the Passion of Christ in Jerusalem. Even after Jerusalem had been occupied by the Saracens, the liberty of pilgrimage, on payment of a tax, was secured by treaty; the necessity of protecting pilgrims, however, gave rise to the medieval military orders, such as the Knights Templar.
The chief places of pilgrimage in the West included, in Italy, Rome, Loreto (near Ancona), and Assisi; in Spain, Santiago de Compostela, Guadalupe, and the monastery on Montserrat near Barcelona; in France, the churches of Notre Dame de Fourvière, at Lyon, and Saint-Denis; in Germany, Cologne and Trèves (now Trier); in Switzerland, Einsiedeln; in England, Walsingham Abbey, in eastern England, and Canterbury; in Scotland, Whithorn, Scone, Dundee, Paisley, and Melrose; and in Ireland, many places connected with the life or death of the early Irish saints. Gustavo A. Madero is the site of a celebrated shrine to the Virgin Mary, in central Mexico. In later times, pilgrims traveled in large numbers to Lyon, Le Puy, Paray-le-Monial, and Lourdes, all in France.