The following study seeks to show the flow of contemporary rituals associated with pilgrimage shrines. I will consider how visitor’s books placed on display at shrine churches are being utilized in the modern context by pilgrims and tourists alike. Requests, words of thanksgiving, and testimony are coupled with an honest, reflexive style that lends to the formation of these individualized prayers. These prayers are original, specific and peculiar as they follow patterns that are informal in nature. These prayers allow pilgrims to initiate contact with the Transcendent through the act and practice of writing. An idiosyncratic form of sacred communication arises in these prayers. In what follows, I will seek to evaluate such books, as well as prayer slips with similar prayers, found at five notable Hungarian shrines. I will seek to determine the function and purpose of said books. First, I am curious as to what gestures and practices are typical of pilgrims who write in such books. Lay tourists follow patterns they became acquainted with at museums, or galleries where they encountered similar books. However, most pilgrims who visit such shrines in Hungary will use these visitor’s books as a forum of thought, and as a vessel for longings and prayers. In their own petitions to the Transcendent realms, they not only make requests, worship, and give thanks but rather, take concrete steps towards solving their problems. They do so by writing down their cares and troubles. This task lends itself as a way to find spiritual relief and peace of heart. In my study I present the different ways visitor’s books are used in the shrines. My aim is to show how, in this particular, written rite, the border between tourism/commerce on the one hand and religion or the profane and the sacred is blurred.
"Longings, Letters and Prayers: Visitor's Books at Hungarian Marian Shrines,"
Journal of Global Catholicism:
1, Article 3. p.18-41.
Available at: https://crossworks.holycross.edu/jgc/vol4/iss1/3
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