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The term ‘pilgrim’ is derived from the notion of pilgrimage. Historically a pilgrim was as a person who walked to a shrine or holy place out of religious motivation. Also, the experience of pilgrimage embodies the pilgrim’s desire to seek or manifest his or her identity and value as a person. Using gender as a lens, women in all cultures, sometimes even without the ability to read or write, have found ways to travel in spiritual ways of knowing. The testimonies of women travellers go back a long way in the centuries; there are many who have challenged the risks and social conventions of their times to satisfy their most disparate needs for knowledge and experience. The oldest surviving female testimony comes from the traveller Egeria who in the 4th century set out from Galicia to the Mediterranean to reach the Holy Land, using the Bible as a guide. Later, in the late ninth century, Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir travelled from Iceland to multiple destinations including Rome on a pilgrimage. Often, however, the religious motivation of women travellers was also a search for their own interiority as in the case of Alexandra David-Néel (1868–1969). The article discusses women’s lives as a religious traveller to explain that the choice of travel destination can be seen as a manifestation of spiritual awareness of the notion of life’s journey (religious or not) and can be a means of expressing one’s personal or social identity, or a search for or reaffirmation of one’s identity.
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Ivona, Antonietta and Privitera, Donatella
"Fearless Women Travellers: Religion and More,"
International Journal of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage:
5, Article 10.
Available at: https://arrow.tudublin.ie/ijrtp/vol11/iss5/10