Places of religious significance in Europe

Europe has many culturally significant cities to visit if you would like to encourage or deepen your Christian faith, including Rome, Lourdes, Assisi and Fatima. There are many large cathedrals, breath-taking basilicas, ancient monasteries and pilgrimage sites, including churches where miraculous healings have been noted to take place, to discover, making Europe a wonderful destination for a cultural or religious tour.

Here is our guide to some of the most popular pilgrimage sites in Europe for Christians, including must-see sites and churches.

 

Rome

When you think of a Christian vacation in Europe one of the first cities that likely comes to mind is the mighty city of Rome, which has long been a place of pilgrimage for Christians. Just west of the heart of Rome you will find Vatican City, which is an independent state in Rome run by the Pope. It is the “headquarters” of the Roman Catholic Church and is home to the Vatican Museums, which include a great number of artistic masterpieces and rare artefacts. The magnificent St Peter’s Basilica, which was built on the burial site of St Peter, can also be found in Vatican City.

Every Wednesday, pilgrims and visitors have the chance to see Pope Francis at the Papal Audience event and we also highly recommend a guided tour of St Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. Other important basilicas to enjoy in Rome are Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica, St John Lateran Basilica and St Paul’s Basilica. Another important day trip for Christians is a tour of Rome’s catacombs and crypts, where features churches and monasteries of historical significance to Christianity.

If you would like to enjoy a Rome tour designed specifically for Christians, we recommend this tour from Bellarome Italian Holidays, which features the most important religious landmarks. If you’re on a budget, then consider a Christian bus tour of Rome, which is available from just $30.

 

Assisi

Assisi is an old and picturesque town, the history of which is dominated by the unpretentious figure of St Francis (San Francesco), who was born in the town in 1182. St Francis dedicated his life to preaching the message of peace and forgiveness around the globe and he had a profound impact on Christian belief. His legacy is evident in every corner of Assisi, where you’ll find many churches, monasteries and shrines, including the Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi, the Franciscan monastery, il Sacro Convento, Santa Maria Maggiore, the Cathedral of San Rufino and the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli.

If you have time, we highly recommend enjoying an Assisi and St Francis package (both 5 night and 7 night packages are available), which allow you to seek out the most important and religiously significant sites in and around Assisi, including the Holy Valley and Rieti. These packages also include a “Pilgrim’s Passport”, which is stamped at the sanctuaries as a memory of your journey.

 

Lourdes

Lourdes sits in the foothills of the Pyrnees in France and is well known for the apparitions of the Heavenly Mother that occurred in 1858. It is the largest pilgrimage site in France and is a site of numerous miraculous healings, with the Roman Catholic Church officially recognizing 69 healings. The best time to visit is between March and October, when many pilgrims visit the city.

Important places to visit on your pilgrimage to Lourdes are the Sanctuary of Lourdes (the spring water from the grotto inside the sanctuary is thought to have healing properties) and the five-domed St Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church, which was designed by Myroslav Nimciv.

 

Fátima

Fátimain Portugal is well known as one of the most religiously significant cities in Europe and is home to the Chapel of the Apparitions, which is built on the site of a Marian apparition that appeared before three children in May and October 1917. The city is a wonderful place to visit on the anniversaries of the apparitions, which have been officially recognized by the Catholic Church, as part of a European pilgrimage.

The religious architecture in Fátima is particularly intriguing and there are plenty of chapels to enjoy, such as the Chapel of Casal Forte and the Chapel of Lombo de Égua. Important churches to visit include the Church of the Santíssima Trindade, as well as the nearby Basilica of the Santíssima Trinidade, where the tombs of the three witnesses to the aforementioned apparitions can be found. We recommend also visiting the Sanctuary of Fátima, which is a principal focus of pilgrims, and the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora da Ortiga.

 

Camino de Santiago

The Camino de Santiago, which is also known by several other English names, including the Way of St James, is in Northern Spain and it is one of the oldest pilgrimage routes in the world. The route is dedicated to the apostle of St James the Great, a shrine to whom can be found at the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela as it is widely believed that the saint’s remains are buried in the cathedral.

Taking this route is considered as a way to form your spiritual path or to experience spiritual growth and it is a versatile pilgrimage as there are around 12 different routes to Santiago de Compostela. However, the oldest route is referred to as the Original Way and begins in Oviedo, meaning that pilgrims on this route can walk for weeks or even months.

Accommodation along the route is minimal but hostels and monasteries offer a place to stay for pilgrims in return for a modest donation. Please note, however, that a Credencial or pilgrim’s passport is required to stay at these locations and this should be arranged in advance of travel – it grants you access to inexpensive (and sometimes free) overnight accommodation in the refugios along the trail. It also provides pilgrims with a record of where they ate or slept, which serves as proof to the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago that the journey was accomplished according to an official route, allowing you to receive a compostela, which is a certificate of completion of the pilgrimage.

 

Altötting

Altötting in Bavaria (Germany) has been an important place of worship for more than 500 years and more than a million pilgrims visit the Chapel of Grace each year, which houses a statue of the Black Madonna, where the miraculous healing of child was noted to have taken place. Thanks to its importance, it was also visited by Pope John Paul II in 1980.

Here you’ll also find the Collegiate Church, the Neo-Baroque St Anna’s Basilica and Chapel Square, where Pope Benedikt XVI celebrated Mass in 2006.

 

Częstochowa

Częstochowa is a city in South Poland that has been made famous due to the Jasna Góra Monastery and its painting of the Black Madonna, which is a well-known shrine to the Virgin Mary. The monastery attracts millions of pilgrims each year, who visit from all over the world and the city can be easily incorporated into a multi-center Christian tour of Europe.

Many people consider Częstochowa  to be the spiritual capital of Poland and the monastery is considered to symbolize the determination of the Polish nation to preserve their Christian heritage. It is very much worth the trip and if you are considering a pilgrimage to Częstochowa you may like to investigate the Wrocław Walking Pilgrimage, which takes place annually in August and takes you on a 9-day spiritual journey from Wrocław to Jasna Góra. If you would like to find out more about joining this walking pilgrimage, please click here to send an online inquiry.

 

Armagh

There are many cities in Northern Ireland that have religious significance but we feel Armagh is one of the most important. Although the town’s roots are in Celtic paganism, Christianity spread throughout the region in 400 AD and there are several celebrated religious points of interest, such as St Patrick’s cathedrals (there are both Roman Catholic and Anglican cathedrals in the town) and St Patrick’s Trian, which displays some of the writings by St Patrick. It is the ecclesiastical capital of Ireland and also the seat of the Archbishops of Armagh.

As an enjoyable day tour, we recommend taking St Patrick’s Way, which is a pilgrim’s walk through Armagh. It begins at the Navan Centre and ends at St Patrick’s final resting place and is a signed walking trail that connects key sites relating to the saint and the Christian heritage of Northern Ireland. A pilgrim’s passport can be obtained from the Navan Centre to symbolize your journey, which you can stamp as required at the specified locations. A complete passport allows you to claim a Certificate of Achievement, which makes a wonderful souvenir.

 

For more information on our Christian tours, please contact a member of our friendly team on 1-347-594-5500 or click here to send an online inquiry.

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