Pilgrimage, eucharist, and the embodied experience: explorations toward a Catholic theology of pilgrimage

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in Theological Studies


Department of Religious Studies


Advisor: Sandra A. Yocum


This project explores the practice of Christian pilgrimage as an embodied, sacramental reality. Taking into consideration theological concerns coming from outside of the Catholic tradition which reveal some controversy as to the appropriateness of the practice of pilgrimage within Christianity, it will address objections to the concept of sacred space by pointing to the anticipatory/not-yet dimension of the Christian faith. Drawing on the methodological approach taken by Roberto S. Goizueta in Caminemos con Jesus: Toward a Hispanic/Latino Theology of Accompaniment in which the author uses a specific experience as a source for theological reflection, this project will begin with a particular experience of pilgrimage and, in dialogue with Scripture and tradition, use the experience to examine the practice of pilgrimage as an embodiment of the Christian journey. Drawing especially from Luke's account of two disciples journeying to Emmaus, it will explore how the Church's tradition of understanding the Christian life as a journey simultaneously nourished by and culminating in Eucharist may be enriched by an experience of pilgrimage. It will examine ways in which the practices of pilgrimage and liturgy mutually illuminate one another. Finally, taking this discussion as evidence of the effectiveness of embodiment, it will explore the essential role of embodiment in Christian practice. Drawing on the necessity of mediation to answer objections initially raised against the practice of pilgrimage, it will conclude by positing that the recognition of pilgrimage as a sacramental reality may be an effective starting point on which to build a theology of Christian pilgrimage.


Catholic Church Spiritual life, Christian pilgrims and pilgrimages, Sacraments Catholic Church, Spirituality Catholic Church, Religion, Spirituality, Theology, pilgrimage, Eucharist, embodied practice, embodiment, theology of pilgrimage, Camino de Santiago, liturgy, Chauvet, sacrament, sacramental

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