Important Sites of Religious Pilgrimage

A BBC travel article in 2012 named 10 must-see pilgrimage locations around the world. You might have heard of the pilgrimages before, or simply learnt the famous religious story in class and can now discover how a village or town in 2018 can allow a religious person to feel closer to their faith by visiting a place written about in their holy books.

Lumbini
Location: Rupandehi, Nepal
Religion: Buddhism
Significance: birthplace of the Lord Buddha. Siddhartha Gautama, the Lord Buddha, was born in 623 B.C. in the famous gardens of Lumbini, which soon became a place of pilgrimage. Buddhism has interesting ideas which we can reflect on when thinking about whether we are at fault for our suffering and if we should take care in our actions so not to harm others or ourselves.

Lumbini

Vatican City
Location: surrounded by Rome, Italy
Religion: Catholicism
Significance: home of the Pope and centre of the Roman Catholic Church. Currently Pope Francis is the man at the Vatican! He often brings to the world’s attention things we learn about at school, such as Christians being persecuted and the need for Christians to pray for them; how Christians should show mercy and compassion to refugees like the Rohingya Muslims; and that if you are fasting during Lent you should still be kind to others to be a truly just Christian.

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Wittenberg
Location: Saxony, Germany
Religion: Protestantism
Significance: birthplace of the Protestant Reformation. It was here in Wittenberg that the monk Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of  Castle Church in 1517. Unfortunately during the Seven Years’ War, much of Wittenberg was destroyed, but Castle Church was rebuilt in the 1800s and the text of Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses was inscribed into the church’s front doors. Inside the church you will also find Luther’s tomb. There are some great Martin Luther raps; film clips; animations; and mini documentaries you can watch or sing along to to help you remember the facts!

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Western Wall
Location: Jerusalem, Israel
Religion: Judaism
Significance: the holiest of Jewish sites. The Western Wall made headlines in May 2017 when the US President Donald Trump visited it and prayed there, and female journalist were kept in a penned off area behind male colleagues. It is a place where awe and wonder fills Jewish pilgrims minds and hearts.

Orthodox Jewish men praying in the  men's section, Western Wall (Wailing Wall), Old City, Jerusalem, Israel.

500 years since Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses

In Religious Studies lessons we learn about Martin Luther and how he complained against the corruption of the Catholic Church by nailing his 95 complaints, or Theses, to the church door, sparking the Reformation.

Students always get confused between Martin Luther born in the late fifteenth century, a monk in what is now Germany…

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And Martin Luther King Jnr the Baptist minister from 20th century USA who was a Civil Rights hero…

Martin Luther King Jr

Well 500 years since Martin Luther nailed those Theses to the door, Lutherans and Christians are preparing to celebrate his huge role in the growth of Protestantism. It was Martin Luther who translated the Latin Bible into German as he strongly believed the people should be able to understand the word of God. Already since the start of 2017 media outlets have been celebrating the year of Martin Luther’s brave moves against the Catholic Church, with BBC Radio 4 broadcasting an interesting 27 minute long discussion of Martin Luther and the Reformation. Nothing can beat, for sheer weirdness the rap music video called 95 Theses, watch and learn!

Church of England Archbishops want Christians to repent for the Reformation

First of all let’s check we know what repent means…

REPENT – to turn from sin and dedicate yourself to changing your life for the better

Now let’s check that we know that the Reformation was…

THE REFORMATION – attempts to reform the Catholic Church and the development of Protestant Churches in western Europe. The Reformation began in 1517 when a German monk called Martin Luther protested about the Catholic Church. His followers became known as Protestants. Many people and governments adopted the new Protestant ideas, while others remained faithful to the Catholic Church. This led to a split in the Church.

If we are just considering England you might know about Henry VIII who split the English Church away from the Pope. This was really an argument about the succession and power and not a move towards Protestantism. Henry remained a Catholic to the end of his life. You then have Edward VI who was a Protestant. Then it was Mary I who tried to restore the Catholic Church. After that it was Elizabeth I who at first tried to follow a ‘middle way’ in religion, but later began to persecute Catholics and by the end of her reign England was a Protestant country. Moving on to James I who was tolerant towards the Catholics, but introduced strict anti-Catholic laws after the Gunpowder Plot.

But back to our original story, the current Archbishops of Canterbury and York have said that Christians should repent their sins for the death and destruction the Reformation caused. They proclaimed people should be sorry for “the lasting damage done five centuries ago to the unity of the Church, in defiance of the clear command of Jesus Christ to unity in love”.

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In 2012 an article in the Daily Telegraph said that the Reformation should stop being looked at simply as a religious change but more as a cultural calamity (nightmare) for the destruction of libraries, music and art. The YouTube Crash Course in World History gives you a 15 minute quick fire review of the Reformation, whereas this rap about Martin Luther gives you an even quicker though harder to decipher run down of the story! Horrible Histories is tricky to find on YouTube but Rowan Atkinson sings as Henry VIII which refers briefly to the Reformation.