Pilgrimages are a global phenomenon and are common among all the great religions. In recent years, interest in walking pilgrim paths has increased in Sweden, too. What is behind this newly awakened interest? Are we perhaps tired of filling our worlds with screen time, melody festivals and cooking programmes? Let’s start at the beginning …
What is a pilgrim?
The word pilgrim has its origin in the Latin word peregrinus, which in fact means foreigner. However, the word has become to mean a person who walks to a holy site. In the middle ages, part of the religious person’s obligations was to make a pilgrimage once in their life. Men, women, children, old and young people from all social classes walked pilgrim paths.
The same is true today – all types of people go on pilgrimages. They include people from all over the world and from all social classes, religious or interested in history, Christian or atheists, the sick, the old and the disabled, beginners to experienced walkers. Archetypal pilgrims are often recognised by their classic hallmarks: rucksack, hat, walking stick and cross.
Lödöse – a hub for pilgrim paths in West Sweden
Lödöse was one of the largest cities in Sweden in the Middle Ages, and was a meeting place for many pilgrims. The pilgrim’s way of life can be brought alive by this archaeological treasure of pilgrim marks and thrilling tales of the saints, but it also puts questions to restless people in the present. Perhaps our need for inner contemplation and physical movement is greater than ever?
From Lödöse to Skara with a piece of Christ’s crown!
At the beginning of the 14th century, Bishop Brynolf received an unequalled religious relic – a thorn from Christ’s crown! A procession then departed from Lödöse to Skara cathedral with the thorn. Unfortunately it seems it disappeared during the reformation. Or is it possible that it remains somewhere? The holy relic was received in Lödöse, which was Sweden’s only port in the west.
With a new information area and a comprehensive exhibition of pilgrims’ marks in the collections, Lödöse has once again become a hub for pilgrim walkers in Västra Götaland along the paths which cross Lödöse from Gothenburg in the south and lead up to Nidaros in the north, or east towards Skara.
Get your boots on!
From 2016 to 2019, Västarvet will have the task of managing the development of the pilgrim paths in Västra Götaland and coordinating the various associations and networks that maintain the paths in different ways. Many of the overgrown paths have now been brought back to life and contemporary pilgrims have started to fill out the paths – hot on the heels of history!
There is simply no excuse left any more. Get your boots on. One foot in front of the other, step by step. We’ve started wandering!
PILGRIM² – AN UPLIFTING EXPERIENCE!
The exhibition Pilgrim² – an uplifting experience is at Lödöse Museum. It is an exhibition about pilgrimages through the ages – past, present and future. Starting in the present, we walk back through history and eventually into around Lödöse, with its network of criss-crossing pilgrim paths.
PILGRIM PATHS IN LÖDÖSE
Do you want to find out more about the pilgrim paths crossing Lödöse – or start walking? You will find information here on sights, history and maps that describe most of what you need to know about the paths, which are now marked out and ready for walking.
PILGRIM PATHS IN SKARABORG
There are several pilgrim paths in Skaraborg, as well as a pilgrim centre in Varnhem.
PILGRIM PATHS IN DALSLAND
The pilgrim path in Dalsland is a varied and scenic trail to walk. It is now more than 100 kilometres long and takes you from Vänersborg to Edsleskog via Holm church, just outside Mellerud. Along the path in the northern part there are fine overnight stays, with shelters, fireplaces and some accommodation.
READ MORE ABOUT OUR WORK WITH THE PILGRIM PATHS
During the period 2016–2019, the Tourism Council of West Sweden and Västarvet will carry out the project called Sustainable Product Development in West Sweden. The aim is to support the hospitality industry in West Sweden by creating quality and sustainable products that combine cultural experiences with walking and cycling. Click here to read more.