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Issue 19

Brass Rubbings

Necessary Symbols

On the churches of the Holy Land.


The benefits of a religious pilgrimage should be—must be—spiritual. Whether we call it revival or conversion or repentance, the change should be from the heart. Hilaire Belloc wrote of a spirit well prepared for pilgrimage, of getting into “the frame of mind that carries . . . humor, gladness at the beauty of the world, a readiness for raising the heart at the vastness of a wide view, and especially a readiness to give multitudinous praise to God.”

That is not to say that one must be single-minded as a pilgrim, though the condition is to be devoutly hoped for in our distracted age. I just completed a Catholic pilgrimage to the Holy Land accompanied by good and lovely pilgrims and led by two holy, enthusiastic priests. This was my first pilgrimage but not my first time in the East, where I had decades of experience scrambling up rocks, ruins, walls, and holy places, from Constantinople to Cairo. And while my heart was warmed and my faith quickened, my inconstant eye did wander, taking up the details of the land and the physical environment of what is called the Fifth Gospel, the land where the Lord Jesus walked.

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About the author

Alberto M. Fernandez

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