Christian pilgrimage has a long and ancient history in the Church. The first pilgrimages were made to places associated with the ministry of Jesus: Jerusalem and the Holy Land. Then in the 8th century, Rome became the popular pilgrimage destination for Christians.
During this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis is encouraging all of us to make the time to go on pilgrimage to a Door of Mercy. He writes:
“The practice of pilgrimage has a special place in the Holy Year, because it represents the journey each of us makes in this life. Life itself is a pilgrimage, and the human being is a ‘viator’, a pilgrim travelling along the road, making his or her way to the desired destination. Similarly, to reach the Holy Door in Rome or in any other place in the world, everyone, each according to his or her ability, will have to make a pilgrimage. This will be a sign that mercy is also a goal to reach and requires dedication and sacrifice. May pilgrimage be an impetus to conversion: by crossing the threshold of the Holy Door, we will find the strength to embrace God’s mercy and dedicate ourselves to being merciful with others as the Father has been with us.” Misercordiae Vultus, 14