In the past, pilgrims were people who went to the Holy Land to worship at Christian shrines. This name came from the palm branch, which the pilgrims took with them on their journey. Traveling to other holy places also began to be considered a pilgrimage over time. Its traditions were born in the XI century. The most popular pilgrimage routes were Mount Athos, the Holy Land, and national shrines at that time.
The establishment of Soviet Power led to the almost complete cessation of pilgrimage, along with other external forms of religious activity. However, it was revived in the early 90s. Churches and monasteries were opened at this time. Many Orthodox believers traveled to them. The last ten years have been marked by the development of organized and diverse forms of pilgrimage.
What is the significance of this process today for the individual Orthodox believer and the entire Church? The spirituality and prayerful experience that each person acquires during communion with the shrines visited are at the heart of the pilgrimage today, as they were many years ago. But this is only one of the components of the pilgrimage.
Spiritual enlightenment of a person is also the main aspect of travel, which is of a pilgrimage nature. During such visits, travelers will have access to historical information, as well as information about the spiritual traditions of churches and monasteries, distinctive features of worship, saints, and ascetics of piety who dedicated their lives to the shrines that are part of the pilgrimage route.
Each pilgrim can talk to the inhabitants of the monasteries to find a confessor. Pilgrimage is also important for education. Temples and monasteries have been places of spiritual activity and cultural centers since ancient times. Icons, books, handicrafts, and works of applied art have been collected in them for centuries. The buildings that housed monasteries and temples were important architectural monuments of their era. This is especially true for buildings built before the 18th century. It is noteworthy that many monasteries managed to maintain the status of cultural centers even during the Soviet period. Museums were open in them at that time. So, the pilgrimage contributes not only to spiritual uplift, but also provides an opportunity to get acquainted with the architectural features, history, icon painting, and craft traditions.
Charity is a key part of pilgrimage programs. Funds for the needs of a particular church or monastery are collected both by its service and by the believers who come to them. Pilgrims can also help temples and monasteries with things and food. Donations help many monasteries not only to continue their existence but also to improve.