Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

THEO 180 - theology of pilgrimage

Spring 2012

Course Description:

The tradition of pilgrimage is as old as humanity and is to be found among people of all faiths and all belief systems.  Studies in anthropology continually uncover aspects of sacred journeys common to all humankind.  These sacred journeys have witnessed increased enthusiasm over the last decades, especially in the Roman Catholic tradition.  This course will study the long theological history and experience of religious pilgrimage as a spiritual journey of the soul.  We will read selections from theology, spirituality, and literature in order to deepen our understanding of pilgrimages (both physical and metaphorical) that are part of the Western religious and literary canon.  There is an important experiential component to the course: students are asked to make two pilgrimages to Catholic shrines in Italy and/or Europe.  





Pilgrimage                              Ian Bradley


The Italians                             Luigi Barzini


Plus readings in: The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer, The Confessions of St Augustine, The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris, Virgin Time by Patricia Hampl, etc.


Major Course Assignments/Grade Percentages:

  1. Five short response papers concerning the texts, 3-5 pages in length, each worth 10% of final grade (taken together, they are 50% of course grade).
  2. Two “edited” versions of your diary/journal from your pilgrimages, worth 40 % of grade.
  3. One mid-semester take-home test, worth 10% of grade.

Attendance Expectations/Late or Missed Assignments:

  • This is a course in which active presence and participation is essential.  More than 3 absences from class will affect the student’s final course grade.  Students who miss a class for any reason are still responsible for assignments, handouts, or material covered that day.
  • Late work will lose 10% for each class day they are late, up to the third class day after the due date.  After that point, they will not be accepted.

Note bene:  All work (essays, journals, exams) should be typed, double-spaced with one inch margins, and prepared using a 12 point font size.  Work will be graded not only on content but on correct use of English and spelling. 

Journal/Diary Entry

In order to fulfill the requirements for this class, you must spend at least two different weekends travelling to shrines, one in Italy and one outside of Italy (though this can be negotiated).  You should pick your dates early in the semester.  You will be expected to answer a series of questions about the pilgrimage site you have chosen, why you have chosen it, and give a brief edited version of your observations of traveling, arriving, and celebrating at the pilgrimage site.  Please see me for ideas or if you choose a place that seems “off the beaten path.”  Students who propose to do only one pilgrimage because of its difficulty or length must see me to talk about it. Students who pilgrimage to the Churches of Rome, should also see me, as this can take the place of one or both of your pilgrimage requirements. 

Course Calendar:  can be subject to slight changes as deemed fitting 


Course Introduction:  Sacred Journeys

Pilgrimage:  Chapters 1-3; Barzini: Intro

Pilgrimage:  Chapters 4-6; Barzini: 1-2

Pilgrimage:  Chapters 7-9; Barzini: 3-4

Pilgrimage: Chapters 10-12; Barzini: 5-6

Pilgrimage:  Rome; Barzini: 7-8

Pilgrimage:  Santiago de Compostela 

    Fall/Spring Break

Pilgrimage: Chapters 14-16; Barzini: 9-10

Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales; Barzini: 11-12

Augustine’s Confessions; Barzini: 13-14

Barzini’s Italians: 15, 16, and Conclusion.ss

Baroque Rome and Jesuit shrines

Pilgrimage sites in Rome:  The catacombs, the seven ancient pilgrim churches; the Jesuit sites and saints; the women saints and martyrs of Rome, etc.

Pilgrimage sites in Italy: St. Francis of Assisi; Our Lady of Loreto; St. Anthony of Padua; San Giovanni Rotondo (Padre Pio); St. Charles Borromeo Milan; St Catherine of Siena; etc.

Pilgrimage sites in Europe: the Infant of Prague, Czech Republic; Lourdes, France ; Fatima (Portugal) ; Chartres (near Paris); Canterbury, England; Our Lady of Walsingham (England); Croagh Patrick (Ireland); Our Lady’s Island (Wexford, Ireland); Santiago de Compostela, Spain; Rue du Bac, Paris (miraculous medal); Frauenkirche, Munich, etc.