Published Humanitas, Volume XV, No. 2, 2002
Entering into the mind of the medieval world is very difficult for moderns. There is a vast mental and psychological distance between the twenty-first century and the middle ages. The latter were drenched in mysticism, whereas the contemporary world has been shaped by rationalism so that mystical concepts and experiences have been stripped away except among a small number of people steeped in the religious thought of our Western ancestors. I was reminded of this in reading a brief history of the Abbey of Conques in the Auvergene region of France, a church that serves pilgrims who are walking on the ancient route from Le Puy to Santiago de Campostella—one of the historic pilgrimage routes of Christians.

The original church, constructed at the end of the ninth century, housed the relics of St. Foy, which inspired great devotion. Though Christianity remained a very strong force more than a thousand years later, today the cult of relics and the pilgrimages associated with them no longer play a significant role in the lives of Christians. It can be argued that the decline of pilgrimages is a loss to Christian spiritual life in an age of unbelief and immorality when people have a profound need for spiritual examples. Awareness…

This is a preview. Read the full article here.