Pilgrimages in the Early Church Fathers

This page has statements from the Church Fathers in favor of pilgrimages. I wanted to make this page because I have sometimes heard people say that pilgrimages are a bad thing, something Christians shouldn’t do, and I think that’s wrong. I wanted to show that the early Church did pilgrimages, so that’s what this is. BTW I count a pilgrimage as any religious journey to a place where unusually holy things have happened or currently happen, for purposes of prayer and insight. So, for example, some early Christians traveled to visit prisoners in jail for their faith, and I count that as a pilgrimage. Some people might not. So what about you, readers? Do you know any other evidence of pilgrimages in the early Church?

Pilgrimages in the Early Church Fathers

177 A.D. - St. Melito of Sardis - “[In]formation in regard to the [W]ord…[should be] esteem[ed]…above all else. Accordingly when I went East and came to the place where these things were preached and done, I learned accurately the books of the Old Testament, and send them to you as written below." (Fragment on the Canon of Scripture as quoted in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History Book 4 Chapter 26)

180s A.D. - Pantaenus visits India. Eusebius says: “Pantaenus…is said to have gone to India. It is reported that among persons there who knew of Christ, he found the Gospel according to Matthew, which had anticipated his own arrival. For Bartholomew, one of the apostles, had preached to them.” (Eusebius’s Church History Book 5 Chapter 10)

180s A.D. - St. Hegesippus - “[When] Primus was bishop in Corinth…I conversed with [him] on my way to Rome, and abode with the Corinthians many days, during which we were mutually refreshed in the true doctrine. And when I had come to Rome I remained there until Anicetus, whose deacon was Eleutherus. And Anicetus was succeeded by Soter, and he by Eleutherus. In every succession, and in every city that [faith] is held which [was] preached by the law and the prophets and the Lord.” (Hegesippus’s Memoirs, as quoted in Eusebius Book 4 Chapter 22)

217 A.D. - Alexander of Cappadocia visits Jerusalem. Eusebius says: “[By] Divine direction, [Bishop Alexander] journeyed from the land of Cappadocia, where he first held the episcopate, to Jerusalem, in consequence of a vow and for the sake of information in regard to its places.” (Eusebius’s Church History Book 6 Chapter 11)

~234 A.D. - Origen of Alexandria - “* have visited the places [of Israel] to enquire as to the footsteps of Jesus and His disciples, and of the prophets. Now, Bethany…was the town of Lazarus, and of Martha and Mary; it is fifteen stadia from Jerusalem, and the river Jordan is about a hundred and eighty stadia distant from it. …John is said to have baptized there. [He goes on naming other places from the Bible.]” (Commentary on John Book 6 Chapter 24)


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