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GCSE RE Quiz

Christianity - Pilgrimage

This GCSE RE Christianity quiz takes a look at pilgrimage. ’Pilgrimage’ may refer to a specific journey by a religious person to a particularly spiritually-important place (such as by Muslims to Mecca), or more broadly to such people making their way through life in general according to the rules and principles of their belief.

For Christian believers, pilgrimage could be an elective journey to the Holy Land to walk in the virtual footsteps of Jesus and those in the New Testament whose lives He touched. Even in these days of relatively easy air travel, the far diagonal of the Mediterranean is a daunting haul for some people, not to mention the sad geo-political tragedies that continue to grind on over those very important tracts of land (contested partly, of course, because they are of such deep and evocative significance to a range of faiths and nations).

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There are other holy places to which Christians might yearn to travel, and to experience for themselves. What we might call this next ‘tier’ would be sites associated with Saints of Bible times or more recently, such as shrines where great people of faith lived, visited, had visions or even died. There is believed to be an inherent blessedness about such sites as Walsingham (UK) or Lourdes (France) ~ to which latter, Catholics, in particular, have flocked since the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubirous in 1858, in faith now that the waters of the grotto there might heal any illnesses or injuries that they have.

Meanwhile, the daily ‘earthly pilgrimage’ continues for Christian believers as they put one foot in front of the other on the walk God has set them in life. Not everyone feels drawn to make a special geographical pilgrimage, but we hope this quiz will offer some understanding of the ‘how and why’ (and where!) for those who do or might.

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  1. Ongoing political unrest permitting, many Christians feel it worth making the effort to visit the Holy Land with its sites where Jesus Himself walked, spoke and did His ministry. Which of the following would NOT conveniently fit into such an itinerary?
    Answer 3 refers to the conversion site of Saul / St Paul; the others are clear references to Jesus's earthly life. At time of writing (early 2016) any excursion into Syria would be distinctly foolhardy.
  2. On the other hand, trying to keep up with the missionary travels of St Paul (even with the benefit of faster modern transport) would be well more than a single holiday's-worth, though there may be niche organisations that try their best. Once again, which of the following would NOT belong on a 'Pauline' itinerary?
    So far as we know, Paul's travels never took him to Egypt.

    Your writer has been briefly to Rome, but also to Malta ('the honeyed island', as this means in Latin) where the site of Paul's shipwreck is named and commemorated; there is an interesting walking-trail based out of Xemxija which takes in a small Roman military bathhouse ~ which could quite plausibly have been his first stop under escort after coming ashore (and the incident with the snake at the bonfire) ~ and not far away from that, there's also an apiary (bee-house) from Roman times. Even seeing these is quite an evocative experience.
  3. There have been pilgrimages to other places with holy associations for hundreds of years. Whose tomb at Canterbury was the destination for the colourful characters in Chaucer's 'Canterbury Tales'?
    Becket was murdered in the cathedral in 1170, a little over two centuries before Chaucer's pilgrims assembled to make their way there to pay their respects. St Augustine (answer 1) was the missionary who had first brought Christianity to Britain; St Swithun (answer 2)'s associations are with Winchester, and 'St Cantius' (answer 4) is, as far as we know, entirely fictitious.
  4. Earlier even than Canterbury, there is a British shrine at Walsingham dating back to a vision of the Virgin Mary in 1061 ~ just a few years before the Norman Conquest (and Battle of Hastings). In which county is this?
    The Walsingham pilgrimage is perennially popular with Catholic and (usually, 'higher') Anglican devotees. Interested quizees can discover more about this online.
  5. The sheer size of mainland Europe, and the reach of its networks of holy houses (abbeys and monasteries), take longer-distance pilgrimages there to a whole wider dimension. One of the best-known routes is the Way of St James: what is its pilgrims' destination?
    This one has been going since the 9th century; Compostela's cathedral houses the most massive censer (incense-burner) in the world, suspended from the ceiling (the 'botafumeiro'), among its many other attractions. This became an increasingly popular 'substitute' pilgrimage destination once the traditional Holy Land was harder to access after the Muslim conquest in the 7th century.
  6. Which do you think is the most common &/or cogent reason for people to go on pilgrimages anywhere?
    It is usually the site itself which determines the experience, but the other reasons usually contribute importantly to it as well.
  7. Religious places sometimes find their ministry develops over time: for instance, Coventry (the site of one of the great mediaeval cycles of religious 'mystery plays') had its old cathedral bombed almost to total ruin during World War 2, and a brand-new (rare) 20th-century cathedral was built from scratch within 20 years or so; under twinning arrangements with Dresden in Germany, it has a powerful ministry of international fellowship and reconciliation.

    Towards the end of the 20th century, a sculpture was donated for installation alongside the 'new' cathedral's Chapel of Industry ~ portraying the head and torso of the crucified Christ, as made of scrap metal from cars that had been involved in fatal accidents.

    Why, or how, would the Cathedral authorities find grateful and suitable use for such a well-intentioned, but macabre, artefact?
    By strange working of providence (perhaps ...), your author was helping sing the services with a summer 'relief' choir at Coventry, over the weekend in 1997 during which Princess Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris. The Sunday morning service was hastily reconfigured to start with a procession and contemplation beside the sculpture, which had suddenly become so very topical.

    Coventry has had strong links with the motor trade since this began around 100 years ago: this is how it came to be involved in making and repairing military motors during the War, and hence attracted German bombardment. A modern ministry to those bereaved through motor-related deaths is an entirely reasonable, indeed (when one considers it) healthy initiative for a cathedral in such a position.
  8. Many churches and other institutions are named in honour of St Helen, mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great ~ and who, as such, was pivotal in the Christianisation of the Empire. It is widely claimed that on her own pilgrimage to the Holy Land, she rediscovered ... what?
    Of course, this story from the 4th century dates back a long way, during which time both faith and forensics have moved on somewhat; but the belief is still there. Wikipedia, at least, suggests that she returned with a number of other relics, but this was judged the most significant.
  9. The motif of a journey is attendant on both the birth and death of Jesus. Which of the following did NOT have to travel to Bethlehem to be part of the original Nativity narrative?
    Herod was keen to get his men into Bethlehem and slaughter any child or infant who could be trying to rival him, according to what he had heard from the 'Wise Men' on their outbound journey about 'a new king born in Bethlehem'. But the Holy Family was able to flee to Egypt and avoid the 'massacre of the innocents'. This in turn brings us back, via a reference to Coventry and its miracle plays ~ since earlier metalsmiths there formed a Guild of Shearmen, who sponsored this scene in their pageant re-enactment, so that they could show off their latest bladed goods!
  10. Who, at least partly while in prison for practising his nonconformist religion, wrote the devotional classic 'Pilgrim's Progress' ~ in which the life and pitfalls of a believer are described through the analogy of a journey?
    Bunyan was serving time in Bedford gaol in the 1670s ... during interesting times, not long after the Restoration and the Plague and Fire of London. The book has, apparently, never been out of print since the first editions went to press, and has appeared in some 200 languages or more.

Author: Ian Miles

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