Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

Theo 279-A02 Roman Catholicism: Theology of Pilgrimage

Summer 2016 - Session I

THEO 279: Roman Catholicism / Pilgrimage               John Felice Rome Center (JFRC)

Dr. Colby Dickinson                                                            Summer Session One 2016, 23 May – 23 June 2016

cdickinson1@luc.edu                                                         Mon and Wed: 9 am – 12.20 pm



[Please note that this syllabus will be subject to slight changes and additions prior to May 2016]


Course description


This course will offer a personal encounter—intellectually, artistically, and spiritually—with Christian pilgrimage and worship throughout the centuries as a mode of exploring the Roman Catholic faith.  With Rome as our classroom, we will investigate the theological, historical, sociological, and literary contours of pilgrimage (and the accompanying roles of saints, relics and miracles) in order to arrive at a deeper theological understanding of Roman Catholicism. 


Course Text


Sumption, Jonathan, The Age of Pilgrimage: The Medieval Journey to God. Mahwah, NJ: Hidden Spring, 2003 (1975).


All other course texts will be made available to students on Sakai.


Course Format


There will be 3 in-class lectures/presentations at JFRC classroom.  All other classes are on-site to specific Churches, catacombs and so forth (see course schedule below for details on where each class is to be held).


Major Course Assignments


You will complete the following assignments as part of this course:


  • Participation for this course is essential.  You will be expected to attend everything we do together, and to comment, ask questions, be enthusiastic and generally participate in any way you are able.
  • A 1-2 page response/reflection paper will be due each week on Monday morning concerning the sites visited the previous week as well as in-class lectures.  The exact format of these reflections will be up to the student, though they should take care to synthesize the readings, site visits and personal experiences.
  • Each student will get an opportunity to lead the group through a 15-20 min. tour of one of the churches/sites we will be visiting, complete with a handout for everyone to follow the major things to note on that particular site.  The site http://romanchurches.wikia.com/ is a major resource to be utilized in constructing handouts.
  • A travelogue based on a trip to a pilgrimage site, and which is made on your own during your time in Italy.  This should be at least 3-5 pages in length.  
  • A take-home exam of approximately 4-5 pages to be emailed to me as a Word document at the end of the term.  You will be given the exam questions in-class toward the end of the session.


All papers for the course should be approximately 10-12 pt font, Times New Roman, 1.5 spacing, 1 inch margins.


Course expectations


Never miss a class.  Never.  I mean it.  Likewise, always be on time, especially for on-site classes which means that you will have to be there by 9 am each time.  I will wait for no one.  Be courteous to one another and respectful of the places we visit (including what you wear, etc.)  For more information on dress codes, see http://www.saintpetersbasilica.org/touristinfo.htm#dresscode for some examples as well.


Please be prepared to ride the metro, take the bus or train, and so forth, throughout the morning, as we will occasionally be hoping on and off public transportation in order to access particular sites around Rome.



Course Schedule


23 May (M) (at JFRC)


In-class lecture at JFRC: Introduction to Roman Catholicism and the historical development of pilgrimage as a ‘Catholic’ performance of faith


25 May (W) (begin at Santi Giovanni e Paulo)


Foundations: The churches during persecution (Ss. Giovanni e Paulo, S. Clemente (5 euros with student ID), the Prison Mamertino, walk by of the Colisseo and Forum)


30 May (M) (at JFRC)


In-class lecture/discussion at JFRC: Saints, relics and miracles along the pilgrim’s journey


1 June (W) (begin at S. Croce in Gerusalemme)


The 7 Pilgrim Churches of Rome (j S. Croce in Gerusalemme, k S. Giovanni in Laterano, La Scala Santa) (a visit to the Sancta Sanctorum is 3.50 euros per person)


6 June (M) (begin at S. Lorenzo fuori le Mura)


The 7 Pilgrim Churches of Rome, continued (l S. Lorenzo fuori le Mura, m S. Sebastiano, Sant’ Agnese and the Catacombs underneath)  (8 euros per person for the catacombs)


8 June (W) (begin at S. Paolo fuori Mura)


The 7 Pilgrim Churches of Rome, continued (n S. Paolo fuori Mura, o S. Maria Maggiore, S. Prassede)


13 June (M) (begin at S. Pietro)


The 7 Pilgrim Churches of Rome, continued (p S. Pietro, S. Maria del Popolo, end at Villa Borghese)


15 June (W) (at JFRC)


In-class lecture/discussion at JFRC: discussion of The Age of Pilgrimage and student experiences of the 7 pilgrim churches


20 June (M) (begin at Pantheon)


The relationship of Church and culture (Pantheon, S. Maria Sopra Minerva, Sant’Ignazio, Il Gesu)


22 June (W) (begin at Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi)


Overview of Roman pilgrimage (S. Maria in Trastevere)





Coelho, Paulo, The Pilgrimage, New York: HarperOne, 2008.


Cousineau, Phil, The Art of Pilgrimage: The Seeker’s Guide to Making Travel Sacred, Berkeley, CA: Conari Press, 2012 (1998).


Eade, John and Michael J. Sallnow, eds., Contesting the Sacred: The Anthropology of Christian Pilgrimage, Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2013.


Feiler, Bruce, Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land Through the Five Books of Moses, New York: Perennial, 2001.


Forest, Jim, The Road to Emmaus: Pilgrimage as a Way of Life, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2007.


Hager, June, Pilgrimage: A Chronicle of Christianity through the Churches of Rome, Cassell, 2001.


Lash, Jennifer, On Pilgrimage: A Time to Seek, London: Bloomsbury, 1991.


Lewis-Kraus, Gideon, A Sense of Direction: Pilgrimage for the Restless and the Hopeful, New York: Riverhead, 2012.


Mahoney, Rosemary, The Singular Pilgrim: Travels on Sacred Ground, New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2003.


Martin, James, Jesus: A Pilgrimage, New York: HarperOne, 2014.


Mockett, Marie Mutsuki, Where the Dead Pause and the Japanese Say Goodbye: A Journey, New York: W.W. Norton, 2015.


Papandrea, James L., Rome: A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Eternal City, Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2012.


Reader, Ian, Pilgrimage: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.


Rudolph, Conrad, Pilgrimage to the End of the World: The Road to Santiago de Compostela, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004.


Sumption, Jonathan, The Age of Pilgrimage: The Medieval Journey to God, Mahwah, NJ: HiddenSpring, 2003 (1975).


Tóibín, Colm, The Sign of the Cross: Travels in Catholic Europe, New York: Pantheon, 1994.


Turner, Victor and Edith L.B. Turner, Image and Pilgrimage in Christian Culture, New York: Columbia University Press, 1978.


Webb, Diana, Medieval European Pilgrimage, c. 700 – c. 1500, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002.


Wright, N.T., The Way of the Lord: Christian Pilgrimage Today, Grand Rapids, MIL Eerdmans, 2014 (1999).