A religious tourist does not live by faith only

Friday, 28 July 2017

If it is true that a man does not live by bread only, it is equally undeniable that not by faith only lives the religious tourist. We do not want to replace the tourist with the pilgrim, rather, we just want to continue to distinguish between those who go on a pilgrimage to a sacred place only because of their faith and those, on the other hand, who are driven to the same place because of other motivations.

Some, actually, many, believe this distinction is obsolete now. Because – they argue – even the pilgrim’s mindset has changed. They may be right, but – again – we want to continue to distinguish between pilgrims (in the proper sense) and religious tourists. We think that this distinction is functional to your work and the satisfaction of your customers.

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And to explain the reason why, we borrow the words of Moreno Zago, a professor of Tourism Sociology at the University of Trieste, interviewed by the project managers of Romea Strata*, the route system that from central-eastern Europe led pilgrims to Rome:

«It is not easy to define the concept of religious tourism with a unique interpretation. The term, in the current language, is used in substitution or in a very similar way to the term pilgrimage, although there are different ways of carrying out the two practices. The religious tourist, in fact, organizes a “journey” to benefit of a new state of mind, while the pilgrim considers the pilgrimage an act of worship and finds in the path to the goal the profound meaning of his trip. Today, anyone motivated by faith or a strong sense of spirituality can be defined a pilgrim, and who, on the other hand, is motivated by cultural motivations and interested in visiting places and religious realities, can be called a religious tourist».

So, remember this distinction. Because it will allow you, we believe, to better understand who you are facing and, in the case of a pilgrim, to help him build a path that is densely meaningful to him.

In order to have an idea of which are the “secular” motivations of a religious tourist, we want to summarize what emerged from a research* conducted in Serbia.

Among the main “secular” reasons that have led people to visit the Vujan Monastery, the research includes the beauty of the surrounding nature, the legends and related stories, the historical, cultural and architectural value of the structure.

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Before giving you some resources on the most famous travel destinations for pilgrims and religious tourists, we would like also to point out that the second edition of Italian Wonder Ways will take place from 18 to 20 September 2017: if you want, you can experience six “routes” of the  center of Italy and meet everyone in Assisi on September 20 for the final event.

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Let’s start the chapter destinations with the reference resources for Assisi. You can point your web browser towards Visit Assisi, Assisi Itineraries and sanfrancescoassisi.org. This latter is the official website of the Papal Basilica and of the Sacred Convent of Saint Francis of Assisi.

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Let’s remain in Italy and let’s move from Umbria to the Marche, to reach Loreto, and therefore the Holy House, «the first sanctuary of international importance devoted to the Virgin and the true Marian heart of Christianity», to use the words used by Pope John Paul II.

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Still Italy, not really actually, because we go to Rome, but we reach the Vatican State. To accurately inform you about St. Peter’s Basilica and other religious sites, the reference resources are Vatican State, Holy See, and Vatican Museums.

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From Italy to France, destination Lourdes, specifically the religious complex of the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes. We would like to point out the official website of Lourdes Sanctuaire.

Let’s stay in Europe, but let’s move to Spain, to Santiago de Compostela, the point of arrival of the homonymous path. All information can be found on Santiago de Compostela Turismo.

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Before flying across the ocean, we stop in Fatima, Portugal. This year, 2017, the centenary of the Apparitions takes place. We would like to point out that on 9 and 10 September the Jubilee for the Young People and the Apparitions Centenary will be held. Point your web browsers towards the official page of the Fatima Shrine.

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Let’s fly away to reach Mexico, specifically Mexico City, where in 1531, on the Tepeyac hill north of the metropolis, the Virgin of Guadalupe would appear. You can find useful information on CDMX Travel.

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Let’s fly again to reach Jerusalem, Israel. Let’s enter the Old Town, divided into four neighborhoods (Jewish, Armenian, Christian, Muslim) where we find the Holy Wall, sacred to the Jews, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Dome of the Rock on the Temple of the Mount. Get in touch with iTravelJerusalem.

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Let go now to the holy city for Muslims: Mecca, Saudi Arabia, where is the largest mosque in the world surrounding the most sacred site of Islam, the Kaaba. Please note that, for visas, the reference service is VFS Tasheel. To build your travel plans, you can rely on the Saudi Tourism website.

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We end our trip in Agra, India, where the Taj Mahal lies, the mausoleum built by Emperor Shahbuddin Mohammed Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died prematurely. A “monument to love” also visited by pilgrims because of the mosque. You can find information on the Taj Mahal website.

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* Pellegrini o turisti religiosi?

edited by Romea Strata

** Exploring The Motives Of Religious Travel By Applying The Ahp Method – The Case Study Of   Monastery Vujan (Serbia)

edited by S. Božic, B. Spasojević, M. D. Vujičić, I. Stamenkovic

IJRTP, International Journal of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage

Enjoy the journey with 6Tour!

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