What do people seek when they go on a pilgrimage? I guess it might be either an edification or a strive for forgiveness. The author of the book “Pilgrimage to the End of the World” Conrad Rudolph, who origins in Poland, is going through a series of missionary journeys on the ship. Traveling two and a half months and one thousand miles along the ancient route through southern France and northern Spain, Conrad Rudolph made the way to the holy site of Santiago de Compostela, which is one of the most important pilgrimage destinations for Westerners. It should be noted that the author of the book is writing a so-called chronicle of his travels to this captivating place. Of course, some aspects of pilgrimage both mystical and physical are still interesting for the Christian renaissance. So, “Pilgrimage to the End of the World” takes its reader, via the eyes and feet of its author Conrad Rudolph, to the Santiago de Compostela, believed to be the holy site or the burial place of the apostle James. In his book he fuels the ancient and the contemporary, describes both the spiritual and the physical, Thus, the book presents at once a travel guide, a piece of literary work, a historical study, and finally memoir.
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The first question, which arises, is the following one who is the Pilgrims? Such journeys are considered proof of the ultimate devotion of people to God, the most important act of an individual’s life. Thus, the people, who are going on the missionary journeys, are the special ones or chosen ones. They consider themselves to be the people to open new routes and new truth to the people, whom they are going to meet during their journeys. So is the author of the book, he is getting on the ship with other pilgrims to join their trip and to divide all the twists and turns of life with them. He is willing to be edified as he is sure that he will be. As the special one, he notes everything down to make a real memoir.
The author is very creative in making his book as a literary work is still being a spiritual inspiration and a guide for young pilgrimages. It is believed that the holy places, to which relate the places of death of the holy people, the places of sufferings of Christians or any place that has to do something with Christianity, inspire people not only to do good in life and to do the best they can but also to lead a truthful and faithful life of a believer, who has come to commemorate the place and the holy one who died there. Doing the following Conrad Rudolph managed to reach two goals. In the first place, he managed to reach believers in the book and to find the interest of those, who are keen on literature.
The book gives an important insight into the inner world of Christians who are going on journeys to reach people’s hearts and to find their edification. Of course, leaving one’s home to travel somewhere, to the end of the world, as the title of the book states is not the best idea, which can come to the mind of a man in the morning. But the fact remains, they leave their homes, leave their troubles and their Motherland to go and to find the truth for both themselves and the people, whom they are going to meet. The truth for itself seems so obvious to pilgrims sometimes, but it is widely known that “if one is willing to teach somebody, he has to learn all his life”. Consequently, the teachers become students, and pilgrims, who go on their journeys to teach become small children, who need to learn so much new for them. The first they need to learn is the land they are going to, the mentality of the people, they are going to meet, the habits, they have. They face a lot of obstacles doing that, as this idea is sometimes hard to be grasped for people who boil down their purpose to be pilgrims to simple teaching. As the practice shows, simple teaching is not helpful in this case. Also, the pilgrims are to have compassion for people they meet as most of them are like lost sheep, they need to find their way to a safe place. But being blind little sheep, people are trying to pretend themselves to be goats or at least as obstinate as goats. So, pilgrims just need a lot of patience to cope with these wild obstinate creatures.
Both in early times and nowadays it is an outstanding experience to be a pilgrim. Being a pilgrim did not, does not, and will never come out of fashion as it is one of the Commandments, to do, which are written in the Bible. And the Bible is surely not the out-of-fashion book. That is why so many people are willing to go to strange places for them to reach the truth they have not known before and to share this truth with the people they teach. A place discovered around 812 AD, is still considered to be one of the most pilgrimage destinations. Moreover, an inflow of people, who come here, has given this place a renewed attention, and also it has been proclaimed to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But the period, during which the Heritage is visited is so vast, that it gives grounds to think of the high interest of people in pilgrimage.
Summing up, it is necessary to point out how important the book is as it gives the impressions, endured by the author of the book. That is why it gives an important insight into the pilgrimage journeys. First and foremost, it gives inspiration both to the common reader of the book and to the young believers. It inspires them to experience being a pilgrim themselves through the stories, but literary through the author’s eyes and feet. Next, the book points out that the pilgrimage experience is very edifying for those, who are going to be taught and for the teachers, the pilgrims as they discover some new things for themselves. And as it has been in the middle ages, so it is now very essential for people to do that and to consider it to be a part of their lives.
Conrad Rudolph. Pilgrimage to the End of the World: The Road to Santiago de Compostela (Culture Trails).Chicago: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition, 2004
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