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Raven Shaw

A pilgrimage was a little like the use of yoga to purify the body and spirit, in that it was a physical act of prayer. It also reminds me of the hippie trails that popped up in the 70’s, where young people were seeking enlightenment through travel. The Romanesque pilgrimage, like the hippie trails, allowed people from different classes to mingle as equals.

Pilgrimage churches popped up along the way to Spain, in which travelers could see holy relics. Relics were body parts of saints, or former possessions, housed in elaborate containers called reliquaries. Reliquaries were ofter made from gold and encrusted with jewels to legitimize the holy status of the object and to give it a feeling of eternal existence (which may be true if we can still visit these objects in a museum today).

The internal layout of a church was setup to allow pilgrims to view the objects in large groups that could be shunted through like field-trip groups in a museum. Like modern tourists, the pilgrims became a source of income for the towns surrounding the churches.

External artwork, such as the Last Judgement Tympanum, reminded the pilgrims why they were on their journey. The image shows souls entering into Heaven or Hell based on how they had lived. The image acts as a teaching tool to people who couldn’t read, and encourages them to go out and convert nonbelievers on their journey.