Preface Places dedicated to sacred memories are a part of all the world’s religious and spiritual traditions. In these sacred places the seeker encounters the holy and, through rituals, meditation, and revelation, experiences a call to move beyond the self. The reverence for sacred places has existed as long as people have formed commun- ities. In recent decades, however, it has enjoyed a powerful reawakening. Not only does this rebirth take the form of deepening of religious conviction, it also involves the quest for new means of experiencing ancient ways of knowing. Pilgrimage routes that, over the past two hundred years, attracted only a trickle of pilgrims now draw tens of thousands. Spain, for example, has reopened the medieval pilgrim hostels on the route to Santiago de Compostela, one of Europe’s most important pilgrimage places, and many make the months-long trek there. Jerusalem and Rome continue to attract streams of believers and seekers. And the quest for insight from outside Western tradi- tions has sparked a new fascination with the ancient traditions of Native American Indians and the way of the Buddha. What are these sacred places? They are the shrines where apparitions of angels, saints, or a god have been reported. They are the sites of miraculous cures. They are locales of particular significance in the natural world, such as sacred mountains or riv- ers, where the divine is made manifest in nature. Sacred sites also include places asso- ciated with the life of a prophet or religious founder. The sacred sites described in this book fall into nine general categories: 1. Places sanctified by events in the life of a prophet, saint, or deity 2. Sites of miracles and healing 3. Places of apparitions or visions 4. Locales dedicated to special religious rituals xiii
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