Guest post by Luke Mills
History of pilgrimage
There are many different reasons why people travel – health; to broaden the mind by seeing other places and other cultures; for holidays; while working for multi- national companies; and for sport. People today, both young and old, are travellers. It is only within the last fifty or so years that the terms globe-trotters, and jet-setters have been coined. A pilgrimage has a different objective. It is a journey with a religious purpose, to visit holy or sacred places called shrines associated with a saint where people can feel near to the saint either through relics or miraculous stories.
It is as well to remember that Australia has no history of pilgrimage. Australia is not a country that people associate with pilgrimage, For pilgrimage to become part of the Church’s witness in a particular country one needs saints and a kindling of the desire to visit places associated with their lives. Although there are many Aboriginal sacred sites and Aborigines go “walkabout” to reach them that is not pilgrimage in the Christian sense when pilgrims are intent on honouring those who lived and died for the faith. There is no tradition of Christian pilgrimage in Australia as there is in countries such as Spain, France, ltaly and the Holy Land. With the canonisation of Mary MacKillop in 2008, the tradition of pilgrimage has begun to take root in Christian consciousness.
In April 2013 Luke Mills, Steven Murphy, Anthony Mills and Michael Dillon from St Francis Xavier College set out for the journey to where it all began. This was a first ever – there is no record that any other pilgrimage has ever been undertaken before from Portland, Victoria to Penola, South Australia.