Walking into St. Marco’s Basilica would be like arriving at the promise land for many of the people who made pilgrimages there. I agree with the line in Honor and Fleming that says, “The road to Jerusalem seemed too remote and the road to Rome was too easy.” Even though this was used as an example for Santiago de Compostela in Spain, I think it applies to all of these magnificent cathedrals and basilicas. People traveled hundreds or thousands of miles to worship in these holly places.
As a pilgrim I would’ve felt relief and complacency to make it all the way there with my fellow travelers. But at the same time I would have felt nervous and intimidated. Coming from a small town somewhere in Western Europe going to a small and conservative church and then having a huge and magnificent house of God placed before me. Everything encrusted in gold and jewels, bright colors overwhelming the senses. The building towers massively over my head. As I walk through the entrance a large and detailed mural of Christ looks down upon me. Judging but also forgiving as he watches his children enter. Inside is even more breath taking. The windows are dark and the walls are covered by all kinds of religious depictions with detail and precision like I have never seen in my life. As I look above me, the domes seem to never stop as they spiral towards the heavens. There are more images of Christ and disciples and saints on the domes. In the center there is a huge cross hanging from the ceiling that almost reaches the floor in front of me. It would be a life changing experience and when I got back to my home I would probably encourage everyone around me to make the same journey. To free their sins and clense their souls.
But even with the overwhelming feeling that St. Marco brings, it also brings a sense of peace and security to me. As I watch others around me worshiping in their own way, many of them praying, I kneel down and pray, thanking God for surviving the pilgrimage and being able to be in St. Marco’s as I know many others are not able to make this pilgrimage, I have been given a great gift from my Lord. Being in this sacred place brings all of us together even though the pilgrims are from all over Europe. As Honor and Fleming mention: “Pilgrimages were a binding force in medieval life- bringing together clergy and laity, rich and poor, different regions and languages, and culture” I think this still applies. People that go to Rome to hear the midnight mass on Christmas Eve, or to visit the Vatican, or people who travel to Jerusalem, they all end up sharing a spiritual bond that transcends all barriers. It doesn’t need to be spoken, even if you aren’t there for the same reasons it is still there. It is and felt throughout everyone who journeys to these places.