Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sacred and Mystical Places

"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, We are spiritual beings having a human experience"
Teillhard de Chardin

Sacred and mystical places are as spiritually meaningful today as they always have been in the history of mankind. Nearly every culture in human history has honored the divine, the mysterious, the supernatural or the extraordinary. They are special places where the physical world seems to meet the spiritual world and these have become our sacred places. They are generally awe-inspiring natural places that are in some way through myth, miracle or legend connected with gods, saints and heroes. They are believed to have "power to heal the body, enlighten the mind, and awaken the soul."

One needn't be religious or even a believer to recognize and even honor that holy places, religious buildings and sacred art are some of the most beautiful things in the world. And since prehistoric times humans have traveled to these sites, making them the most loved and visited places on earth.

The ancient practice of pilgrimage is as popular today as it was in ancient times. And the Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela is one of the top 3 pilgrimages in the world today only topped by Rome and Jerusalem. The mystery and the spiritual power of the Camino draws both the faithful and the curious.

"The idea that life is a pilgrimage and the really important aspects of life have been revealed to them through their experience of the route is a constant in Pilgrim narratives" says Nieves Herrero Perez, University of Santiago de Compostela.

The words I have heard most often from those who have made the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela is that it is "life altering".

Ten million visitors are expected to visit the resting place of Saint James the Apostle at the Cathedral of Santiago in 2010, which is a Holy Year (when Saint James' day, July 25, falls on a Sunday).


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