Photograph by AP
From the National Geographic book Sacred Places of a Lifetime
March for Jobs and Freedom, Washington, D.C.
Photos of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom show a sea of people flooding the National Mall and enjoying the festive mood. More than 250,000 joined the rally between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, some having traveled up from the Deep South. Their reward—Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech—is surely one of the most stirring orations ever delivered.
Mormon Pioneer Trail, United States
In 1846, more than 70,000 Mormons, driven by a wish to find somewhere they could follow their creed in peace, traveled west from Nauvoo, Illinois, to Salt Lake City, Utah. Using wagons and handcarts, they crossed 1,300 miles (2,092 kilometers) of rough terrain. The lucky ones reached Utah in 1847.www.nps.gov/mopi
eBodh Gaya, Gaya District, Bihar, India
India’s spiritual center of Buddhism is Bodh Gaya, whose bodhi (fig) tree, it is said, sheltered the meditating Buddha Gautama for seven weeks in his quest for enlightenment. Today the tree (a descendant of the original) and the nearby pyramid-shaped Mahabodhi Temple are among Buddhism’s holiest sites.www.buddhanet.net
Salt Satyagraha, India
In 1930, Mahatma Gandhi set out with 78 followers from Sabarmati Ashram to walk to the sea at Dandi, Gujarat, in nonviolent protest against the British salt tax. The 248-mile (400-kilometer) Salt Satyagraha march lasted from March 12 to April 5 and instigated widespread resistance to British rule of India.www.saltmarch.org.in
St. Paul Trail, Turkey
This rugged 310-mile (500-kilometer) trail partly follows St. Paul’s footsteps as he set out to preach Christianity. Leading from Perge or Aspendos, both near Antalya, to Antioch in Pisidia, near Yalvaç, the route forges through dramatic landscapes—from fragrant forests of pine to crystal clear lakes.www.stpaultrail.com
Route of Saints, Kraków, Poland
Nowhere else in Europe mingles religion and royalty more richly than Wawel Hill. The dreamy 14th-century cathedral has 18 chapels and an alluring cluster of tombs—one of Poland’s patron, St. Stanislaus. The cathedral museum has a 500-year-old robe, Kmita’s chasuble, embroidered with intricate scenes from his life. Away from the hill, follow Kraków’s Route of Saints, linking its 16 beautiful churches.
Canterbury Cathedral, Kent, England
A pilgrimage to Canterbury pays homage to a beloved saint, a glorious cathedral, a giant work of literature, and simple human history. Archbishop Thomas Becket’s murder on the altar by four knights of Henry II in 1170 almost immediately secured his fame as a miracle worker. His shrine drew pilgrims seeking cures—or simply a roistering good time—as immortalized in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.www.canterbury-cathedral.org
Eleanor Crosses, England
Devoted to Eleanor of Castile, his queen and the mother of his 17 children, Edward I was distraught when she died of a sudden fever in 1290. He had her body carried from Lincoln to London, 108 miles (174 kilometers) south, for the funeral. He ordered a memorial cross to be built wherever the cortege rested. One even gave its name to London’s official center, Charing Cross.www.historic-uk.com/DestinationsUK/EleanorCrosses.htm
St. Patrick’s Footsteps, Ireland
Retracing St. Patrick’s steps in Ireland is serious spiritual—and physical—exercise. You can undertake an austere retreat on the island of Lough Derg, or you can climb—barefoot is the painful custom—Croagh Patrick. But other sites associated with him require less effort to visit, such as the Northern Irish town of Downpatrick, with his grave, near the ancient Down Cathedral, and a museum with an exhibition dedicated to the saint.
Moffat Mission, Northern Cape, South Africa
In 1838, missionary Rev. Robert Moffat set up his thatched-roof “Cathedral of the Kalahari,” aiming to convert the locals to Christianity. He arduously translated the Bible into Setswana, printing it on a press still in use at the mission.www.places.co.za
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