From the earliest times pilgrimage has provided an image of the inner life of Christians. In its external aspect it became an ever more popular form of devotion throughout the Middle Ages. The two concepts were not simple alternatives, for the several strands within each were constantly interwoven.
With a wealth of illustration, Sister Benedicta Ward demonstrates that while countless Christians sought to improve their material lot by undertaking pilgrimages to the shrines of the saints, they could also find in the monastic ideal the pattern for their own inner journey to the heavenly Jerusalem. She shows, finally, how the two major conceptions of pilgrimage were given a new direction in the sixteenth century when, in the wake of the Reformation which abolished the custom, Lancelot Andrewes and John Bunyan would portray the Christian pilgrimage as ‘life itself, the end indeed death and the way the way of the cross’. This remains true for all of us who today go on pilgrimage in whatever guise … but ‘however severe and demanding the life of pilgrimage might be’, arrival at the goal is ‘delight, pleasure, wonder and love’.