Spiritual Journeys

Spiritual Journeys

There are countless places in the United States and in this world where peo- ple make spiritual journeys, or pilgrimages, for the purpose of giving thanks or petitioning for favors. The shrines are related to magico-religious folk medi- cine and the use of charms, holy words, and holy actions. For example, at many shrines petitioners leave amulets or written petitions or light candles. Shrines range from small memorials—such as shrines that are created at the sites where accidents have occurred and people were killed to large, famous shrines where people who are part of a given religious tradition or a follower of a given healer may go to pray or petition at the site. In the United States, and throughout the world, people make pilgrimages to a number of shrines in search of special favors and HEALING. Shrines are not limited to any one-faith tradition, and they can be secular as well as religious. Over the years, I have visited many sacred shrines and have learned that they are indeed extraordinary places. The essentials that each of the shrines has in common are a feeling of peacefulness and serenity to the visitor; a calm, soothing atmosphere; and a place where petitions and/or objects are left when petitions for HEALING are made; or prayers have been answered, and people leave objects in gratitude. Most, but not all, have a source of water as part of the milieu, and it is a part of the tradition to take home water from the shrine.

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The following are examples of shrines located in the United States. The Tomb of Menachem Mendel Schneerson in Queens, New York, is a holy

shrine where Jewish people from around the world gather to leave petitions and seek HEALING. People have reported healings when they visit his tomb (Figure 6–5).

The oldest shrine in the United States is the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche, located in St. Augustine, Florida (Figure 6–6). The shrine was founded

Figure 6–5 The Tomb of Menachem Mendel Schneerson in Queens, New York.

Figure 6–6 Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche.

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in 1620 by Spanish settlers as a sign of their love for the Mother of Christ. The shrine is visited by thousands of mothers to ask for the blessings of mother- hood, a safe and happy delivery, a healthy baby, and holy children. Countless letters can be read at the shrine attesting to the powers of Our Lady of La Leche (Informational brochure, 1953).

The Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan (Figure 6–7) is located in San Juan, Texas. This shrine houses a statue of the Virgin that was taken to

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