Whether a pilgrimage centers around a place, a visionary individual, or a text, it brings widely diverse individuals and their beliefs, doctrines, and expectations into contact with each other. This important collection assesses the qualities and power of pilgrimage shrines as sites for accommodating various, often competing, meanings and practices, both among pilgrims and between shrine custodians and devotees.
Contributors discuss the highly organized shrine at Lourdes and also the shrine at San Giovanni Rotondo in Sangiovannesi, Italy, where conflicting interests among townspeople and pilgrims have crystallized around the life and the remains, respectively, of a holy man. Other contributors consider the competing images of Jerusalem among pilgrims of various Christian faiths-Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Christian Zionist-and explore the unique attributes of shrines in Sri Lanka and Peru.
A major advance in understanding the complexity of pilgrimage, Contesting the Sacred provides valuable insight into the process of exchange between human beings and the divine that gives pilgrimage its central rationale. John Eade's new introduction places the book's theoretical frame in the context of recent thinking and writing on pilgrimage and considers the impact of globalization and tourism on pilgrimage cults and sites.