Michael Agnew




Based on fieldwork conducted with pilgrims traveling from England to the Marian apparition shrine of Lourdes, this article will focus on the experience of serial pilgrims, those who have made the journey to Lourdes repeatedly for several years. Serial pilgrimages to Lourdes are often a family affair, spanning multiple generations, and become compulsive for those who undertake them. Yet the stories of several Lourdes pilgrims reveal that they do not feel this compulsive need to go to Lourdes alone. Many frequently navigate the European circuit of Marian pilgrimage shrines, including Walsingham in England, Knock in Ireland, Fatima in Portugal, and Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Attending to the nature of serial and multi-sited pilgrimage underscores that pilgrimage shrines are not static, bounded sites. They indeed become porous as pilgrims travel between them, with cross-currents flowing back and forth. They become intimately familiar, a storehouse for memories of pilgrimages past, and sites for continued spiritual refreshment. Pilgrimages to multiple shrines punctuate the spiritual journey of the serial pilgrim, and as this article will show, also provide a means by which some shrines are contrasted and privileged over others, revealing the values and motivations underlying serial pilgrimage.



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