If faith can move mountains, it can certainly move you from A to B.
So much so that travel experts say that faith is increasingly a motivation to travel, as believers seek out locations of spiritual significance, from Israel to Poland, Turkey to Italy.
You’ve seen the Christmas crowds on TV vying for a spot in St. Peter’s Square. You may even have visited the medieval village of Oberammergau in Germany to witness its poignant Passion Play held every 10 years.
From missionary work and pilgrimages to spiritually motivated travel and faith-based tours, millions of travellers embark on some form of religious travel every year. “Faith-based travel takes on many different forms,” says Teresa Richardson, Managing Director South Africa, The Travel Corporation (TTC).
According to the World Tourism Organization, faith-based tourism contributes over US$50bn to the global economy each year.
“To meet this growing need, Trafalgar has launched a dedicated faith travel brochure with specific faith-based trips that follow in the footsteps of those who shaped religion and includes some of the world’s most sacred places like Israel, Poland and Italy.”
Of particular interest for spiritual travellers in 2020, says Richardson, is the historical Oberammergau Passion Play, which brings the community together every 10 years in recognition of their deliverance from the Great Plague of 1634.
“Trafalgar has incorporated this moving performance about Christ’s life and death in its trips since 1970 and, in addition to seeing the play, travellers have an opportunity to meet the people from the town, learn about their local culture and discover the region.”
Whether you’re joining the Torchlight Marian Procession in Lourdes or attending Mass at Jasna Gora Monastery in Czestochowa, the spiritual capital of Poland, connecting with your spiritual side in some of the world’s most sacred places can be a life-changing way to spend your holiday.
In the inimitable words of Martin Luther King Jr: “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
So, here’s where you should be taking your first steps:
Take time to pray at the tomb of St. Stanislaus, the Patron Saint of Poland, when you visit Wawel Cathedral, the country’s greatest Catholic shrine and the former home church of Karol Jozef Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II.
More than nine centuries old, Wawel Cathedral also houses the Cross of the Black Christ, a Gothic sculpture of The Saviour which is alleged to have spoken to Queen-Saint Jadwiga on several occasions. The Holy See once declared that hearing Mass here could release one soul from purgatory each time.
While in Kraków: Visit Auschwitz to learn firsthand about the terrors and resilience of human spirit within its walls.
Embark on a walking tour of Jerusalem’s Old Town to the Mount of Olives for panoramic views over the city. Stroll through the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed on the night before his arrest, then visit the Jewish Quarter and see the Western Wall with its prayer notes and the Dome of the Rock located on Temple Mount.
Walk the Station of the Cross to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the traditional site of the Resurrection of Christ, where you’ll encounter Jesus’s empty tomb – where he is said to have been buried and resurrected. The tomb is enclosed by a 19th-century shrine.
While in Jerusalem: Drive to Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus and King David, where you’ll visit the Church of the Nativity, built over the cave thought to be the spot where Jesus was born.
The Oberammergau Passion Play has its origins at the beginning of the 17th century in the time of the Plague, or Black Death as it was known, that decimated Europe. The plague claimed a large number of the residents of Oberammergau, and with no end in sight, the village elders vowed to perform a Passion Play every 10 years depicting the Passion of Christ if God would be merciful and protect the village from further suffering.
Miraculously, after making this pledge, the village was spared and in thanksgiving, the people of Oberammergau performed the very first Passion Play in 1634. In keeping their promise, they have continued to do so for over 380 years.
Attend this moving event from May to September 2020, with some 102 planned performances from which to choose.
While in Oberammergau: Twin your trip with a trip to Italy’s most loved cities, Imperial capitals like Vienna and Prague, or a round-trip incorporating all the highlights of Germany.
It’s time to put the emphasis on ‘pray’ in your very own ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ adventure. Visit your local travel agent or Trafalgar and pick up some Travel With Faith inspiration.