Christian Structures and Pilgrimage

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Identify two (2) aspects of Romanesque cathedral architecture, and explain their significance. Discuss two (2) details one might encounter or experience on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela (i.e., on the way and / or once there) that you think a medieval Christian pilgrim might find especially meaningful. What are some modern day Christian pilgrimages?

Nov 7th, 2015

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Two key aspects of Romanesque Cathedral Architecture are (1) barrel vaults and (2) portal archs called Tympanums. So you can think of vaults and arches as the main 


These were significant because it strengthened Chrisitanity and spread the style throughout Europe during 1000 to 1200 AD.

The Romanesque Cathedral Architecture became a model for churches during this time period.

The barrel vaults were shaped to bring the attention of the worshipper to the top or towards Heaven. Barrel vaults made believers feel they are promised to go to heaven 

 through their faith. Also some were designed with alternating voussoirs which is an alternation of brick and stone. This was also to lighten the visual impact of the 


Santiago de Compostela is about 497 miles from France to Spain. Most pilgrims choose to make the trip  by walking which can take up to a month. Once there they can 

receive a record that is stamped showing they were  there.  

It is believed that by making the trip to Santiago all sins will be forgiven. The ritual hasn’t changed since medieval  times. Meals and lodging is provided and 

everything is done by volunteers.  I believe the main reason people choose to make the trip is because of the belief that all sins will be forgiven. It is  also a very 

scenic route as well. The routes included sacred sites which housed relics or possessions and sometimes  bones of Christian saints and martyrs.

To the Christians the portal arch was also a very important section as it was believed to  be the link from the external world to the sacred heavenly space. The space 

under the portal arch was known as the  Tympanum and it was believed to be filled with sculptural relief.  

Please let me know if you need any clarification. I'm always happy to answer your questions.
Nov 7th, 2015

A modern day pilgrimage that has started since the 7th century, is called the Hajj.

The Hajj is a yearly pilgrimage to Mecca and is presently the greatest yearly pilgrimage worldwide - and also the fifth pillar of Islam. It is a religious obligation that should be performed at least one time in every Muslim’s life. The Mecca Pilgrimage is an expression of the unity of the Muslims, and their compliance to God. The pilgrimage takes place from the 7th - 13th day of Dhu al-Hijjah which is the 12th month of the Islamic calendar. In 2010, the Hajj is expected to fall between November 14-18.

Nov 7th, 2015

Here is another modern day Christian pilgrimage in the United States.

 National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, a Catholic pilgrimage site devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary that draws thousands of visitors annually. The Grotto was established on St. Mary's mountain in 1805 by father John Dubois. 

The sixty acres of grounds include lush gardens, a pond, rosary paths, the Stations of the Cross, devotional areas, a scenic overlook, and St. Mary's Chapel on the Hill (also known as the Glass Chapel). Grotto water flows from taps located around a fountain pool, and chaplains are available to bless the water for visitors. 


There are important sites in the pilgrimage to  Santiago de Compostela, that represent Christianity's struggle against Islam and their success to keep Christianity in Europe.  There are is also the burial site of apostle St. James.


Nov 7th, 2015

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