• The Great Aachen Pilgrimage
    The Great Aachen Pilgrimage ©Aachen tourist service e. v.
  • Holy Blood Festival in Bad Wurzach
    Holy Blood Festival in Bad Wurzach ©Kurverwaltung Bad Wurzach
  • Altötting Pilgrimage
    Altötting Pilgrimage ©Wallfahrts- und Verkehrsbüro Altötting
  • Holy Blood pilgrimage to Walldürn/Odenwald
    Holy Blood pilgrimage to Walldürn/Odenwald ©Touristinfo Walldürn
  • Maria Alm Pilgrimage
    Maria Alm Pilgrimage ©Berchtesgadener Land Tourismus GmbH
  • Andechs Abbey
    Andechs Abbey ©Kloster Andechs
  • Kevelaer motorcycle pilgrimage
    Kevelaer motorcycle pilgrimage ©Motorradwallfahrt Kevelaer
  • Holzkirchen candle pilgrimage
    Holzkirchen candle pilgrimage ©Touristinfo Ortenburg
  • Walking pilgrimage, Wieskirche church
    Walking pilgrimage, Wieskirche church ©Pfarramt Wieskirche, Steingaden
  • Mounted Procession of the Holy Blood in Weingarten
    Mounted Procession of the Holy Blood in Weingarten ©Stadt Weingarten, Amt für Kultur und Tourismus
  • Pilgrimage lands of Sammarei
    Pilgrimage lands of Sammarei ©Touristinfo Ortenburg

The ancient tradition of Christian pilgrimage

The desire to get closer to God is the reason why many pilgrims decide to travel to important religious sites. A pilgrimage according to the Biblical tradition is a spiritual journey and a show of faith.
Pilgrimage lands of Sammarei
Sammarei in the Passauer Land region is one of Bavaria's most important centres of pilgrimage to the Virgin Mary

Old-established church festivals, pilgrimages and beautiful shrines to the Virgin Mary are characteristic of the tiny village of Sammarei with its splendid Church of St. Mary in the picturesque Klosterwinkel region of Bavaria . The Assumption of Mary on 15 August with its torchlight procession is a particularly important celebration here, as is the first of May. A service for pilgrims is held at 4pm every day and can be followed by a guided tour of the church.

Holy Blood pilgrimage to Walldürn/Odenwald
Pilgrims head for the Holy Blood altar in Walldürn's pilgrimage basilica

Looked after by Augustinian monks since 1938, the Eucharistic shrine in Walldürn is the third most popular pilgrimage site in Germany. Every year, more than 150,000 pilgrims visit the Holy Blood altar, which is almost 700 years old. Outside the busiest month for pilgrimages (Sunday after Whitsun to one week after Corpus Christi), the most popular times to visit are the themed pilgrimage days (horseback, bicycle, motorbike).

Pilgrimage to Schönstatt
The little Schönstatt chapel – an international destination for pilgrims with a unique aura

A small chapel of St. Mary, a major pilgrimage destination and a global apostolic movement: this is Schönstatt, located on the Rhine, not far from Koblenz . This place of mercy is the spiritual centre of a significant movement that has now spread to more than 130 countries. Every year, tens of thousands of pilgrims make their way to the town that was the original home of the Schönstatt movement.

Kevelaer motorcycle pilgrimage
'Comforter of the afflicted' – a motorcycle pilgrimage to the Virgin Mary in Kevelaer on the Lower Rhine

Germany's biggest motorcycle pilgrimage is an opportunity to ask for Mary's blessing and remember friends who have been involved in accidents. Every July, thousands of bikers take part in a procession of light and blessing under the motto 'pray 'n' ride'. This tradition, a breathtaking blend of leather jackets, chrome choppers, rumbling machinery and melodic exhausts, captivates the spectators lining the route.

Holzkirchen candle pilgrimage
This annual walking pilgrimage is one of Lower Bavaria's last great traditional Whitsun processions – the Holzkirchen candle pilgrimage

The famous Holzkirchen candle pilgrimage is a religious tradition dating back almost 500 years, yet has not changed over that time. It begins in Holzkirchen on the Friday before Whit Sunday and ends at the pilgrimage church on Bogenberg hill on Whit Sunday. Every year, the pilgrims keep the promise they have made and carry a 13m candle weighing 50kg as a sign of thanksgiving to the Virgin Mary.

Holy Robe Pilgrimage in 2012
500 years of the Holy Robe pilgrimage: relic on display in Trier Cathedral

All Christians were invited to take part in the anniversary pilgrimage, which took place between 13 April and 13 May 2012 under the motto 'And join together what is asunder'. It is 500 years since the Holy Robe was first shown during the Imperial Diet in Trier in 1512. The Holy Robe, which Jesus is said to have worn on his way to be crucified, was last shown in 1996, when it attracted almost 1 million pilgrims from around the world.

St. Walburga and her miraculous oil

St. Walburga (710-779) of Eichstätt – supporter of all those in need. Many pilgrims mark the day on which she died, 25 February, by visiting her burial place in St. Walburg Abbey Church and asking for the 'oil of St. Walburga'. The tomb, located behind the high altar, is the point of focus for the pilgrims who come to honour this great Anglo-Saxon missionary and abbess.

Walking pilgrimage, Wieskirche church
It all began with a 'miracle of tears' on 14 June 1738. The walking pilgrimage to the Church of the Scourged Saviour in Wies.

The ornately decorated Wieskirche church, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Steingaden, is a place of great theology, spirituality, worship and contemplation. The pilgrimage church is dedicated to the Scourged Saviour, a statue dating back to 1730. This is the only Bavarian pilgrimage to have started as late as the 18th century that continues to the present day. It is held each June. more »

Mounted Procession of the Holy Blood in Weingarten
Europe's largest mounted procession: Weingarten's Procession of the Holy Blood on the Friday after Ascension

The Procession of the Holy Blood is held on the Friday after the Feast of the Ascension in honour of the Holy Blood relic in the baroque Basilica of St. Martin in Weingarten, Upper Swabia. Around 3,000 horse riders and 100 procession groups take part, making it the largest mounted procession in Europe. Traditionally, only men are allowed to ride. Some 30,000 pilgrims and spectators follow this annual religious celebration.

Holy Blood Festival in Bad Wurzach
The Festival of the Holy Blood in Bad Wurzach is central Europe's second-largest mounted procession.

The Festival of the Holy Blood, a traditional procession to the baroque pilgrimage church on Gottesberg hill, is a cherished custom reserved for the second Friday of July that has attracted many pilgrims and other religious travellers for almost 300 years. They come to worship the Holy Blood relic once owned by Pope Innocent XII, which dates back to 1693. Some 1,500 riders and 5,000 pilgrims take part, making it one of the largest religious events in Upper Swabia.

Andechs Abbey
The Feast of the Three Hosts – a pilgrimage as described by Isaiah: Andechs pilgrimage

The monstrance containing the three sacred Hosts is the centrepiece of the Andechs reliquary collection. The three sacred Hosts have been worshipped since the 12th century, making the Andechs pilgrimage to the 'Holy Mountain' one of the oldest in Bavaria . Peak times for pilgrimages to Andechs are the Week of the Cross in the week before Ascension and on the Feast of the Three Hosts on the fourth Sunday after Whitsun.

Altötting Pilgrimage
Journey of self-discovery on the long walk to the Black Madonna: Altötting foot pilgrimage

Altötting on the Benedict Trail has been a significant place of pilgrimage to the Virgin Mary and a vibrant pilgrimage centre of international standing since the Middle Ages. Since 1489, one million pilgrims have come from all over the world to ask for help from the Black Madonna in the famous Chapel of the Miraculous Image on Kapellplatz square. Thousands of pilgrims also visit each year to celebrate the Assumption of Mary on 15 August.

Maria Alm Pilgrimage
The oldest mountain pilgrimage in Europe is always a major occasion: the Maria Alm pilgrimage

Every year on the Saturday after 24 August (St. Bartholomew's Day), more than 3,000 pilgrims travel over the mountains known as the Steinernes Meer (sea of rocks) from Maria Alm in Austria's Salzburger Land region to St. Bartholomew peninsula on Lake Königssee in Germany's Berchtesgadener Land region. The pilgrimage is thought to date back to 1635, when citizens of Salzburg first crossed the mountains to reach St. Bartholomew's Church as a symbol of thanksgiving to the Lord for having saved them from the plague.

The Great Aachen Pilgrimage
The Great Aachen Pilgrimage is a centuries-old celebration of relics

Even today, up to 100,000 people follow a tradition dating back to 1239 by making the journey to Aachen Cathedral to see the four biblical relics (Christ's swaddling clothes, the loincloth worn by Christ, Mary's dress and a cloth used at John the Baptist's decapitation) that are displayed once every seven years during a special celebration of the Eucharist. They will be next shown in 2014.

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