Religion was seen by many as a means to make life more bearable and the afterlife more attainable. While the Church pointed out that the best way to achieve these two goals was through clean living, most of the faithful were prone to moments of weakness. The temptations leading to sinful behavior were abundant in the 14th century. People sought a way to make up for their rash behavior and pilgrimages grew to be a major means of compensating for naughty behavior.
The idea behind a pilgrimage was to exert considerable effort in a journey to a place that was know to be more conducive to effective praying. Most of these sites were notable because they contained the tombs of Saints . It was around these tombs that many great churches and cathedrals were born. Often, it was not even the tomb of a Saint that lent sanctity to a place, but merely a fragment of a saint's remains or some other holy relic There were also items of more questionable provenance, such as the cloth the Christ's body was wrapped in --the "Shroud of Turin "-- or pieces of the cross he was crucified on. No matter, it wasn't called the Age of Faith for nothing. If a place, and its Holy Relics got a reputation for getting prayers answered, it became more popular as a pilgrimage destination.
Going on a pilgrimage was a very physical demonstration of one's religious devotion. Travel was dangerous in the 14th century, whether by foot, horse or ship. There not a lot of hotels and motels, making many pilgrimages resemble nothing less than an extended backpacking excursion. Pilgrims often travelled in groups, for safety and companionship. A priest was often in attendence, to lend to the religious nature of the undertaking.
The people living in the vicinity of a pilgrimage site were well aware of the economic value of all those pilgrims, and this encouraged the locals to enhance the effectiveness of the pilgrims' experience in any way they could. This resulted in many a church or cathedral being built. These impressive religious structures were tourist attractions from the moment their construction began. Some pilgrims added to their religious experience by volunteering free labor for work on such holy structures.
Pilgrimages were not all peril and hardship. They were definitly an adventure and a welcome break from the tedium that hung over most 14th century lives. While dangerous, the feeling was that if you died as a result of your exertions on a pilgrimage you were more likely to meet your maker on favorable terms. A pilgrimage was often the only time a commoner got to travel very far from their birthplace.
Pilgrimage Destinations (In order of brownie points with the Lord),
Major Places Hex Notes
Jerusalem offmap holiest pilgrimage, in
Rome PPS00 especially every 50th year
Santiago de Compostela L0000 Holiest place in Europe,
Regional Shrines Fief
Notre Dame, at Chartres FCR03
St. Andrew, at St. SMM00
Andrew's, the Midlands
St. David, at St. David's EPM01
St. Martin, at Tours FTS06
St. Thomas a Becket, at EKE03
St. Joseph of Aramithea, ESM04
San Niccolo of Bari, in G0000
St. Patrick at Lough Derg, RUL00
In addition, any archepiscopal or episcopal see would count as a local shrine.
See Also: Crusades