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To introduce and explore the notion of pilgrimage

by Jill Fuller

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To introduce and explore the notion of pilgrimage.

Preparation and materials

This assembly builds on the one on Special Places, also in this month's selection. You can use that assembly first, or build in elements from it to make a longer assembly.


  1. Briefly remind the children of their discussions about special places, if you have used that assembly recently. Explain that just as individuals, families, clubs and schools have special places, which they like to visit, so do some religious groups. Often the places they visit have a special memory of their God or of a special saint.
  2. Explain that Hindus make a special journey to the source of the River Ganges, Muslims visit Mecca, and Jewish people go to Jerusalem. Point out that people often make the journey either because they want to express thanksgiving to God, or to ask forgiveness when they think they have done wrong. Explain that these special journeys to special places are often called 'pilgrimages' and the people who make the journey are called 'pilgrims'.
  3. Explain that there are many places of pilgrimage in this country: for example, Canterbury, with the shrine of St Thomas Becket; Salisbury, with the shrine of St Osmond; Holy Island and Iona.
  4. Talk about how in times past people would have made long journeys and bought special 'pilgrim' badges to pin on their hat or cloak. They would have travelled in a group and would perhaps have a special prayer request to make in the church at their destination. Sometimes they would light candles and leave them at the special place.

Time for reflection

In a moment of quiet, imagine that you have travelled to a special place of pilgrimage. Think of why you have come to this place - is there something you want to say thank you for? Is there something you want to say sorry for? Is there something you want to ask God for?

Say your own prayer, in your head, or just think for a moment about why you've made your special journey - your pilgrimage.

Dear God,
Thank you for all the special journeys to special places
that people make all over the world,
and have made throughout history.
Thank you that there are so many special places in the world - so much to see.
Thank you that pilgrims make their journeys with other people,
and so make new friends as they journey together.


'He who would valiant be' (Come and Praise, 44). Explain that the words of this song are by John Bunyan, who wrote a story about a pilgrim - Pilgrim's Progress. The words are quite difficult but the line at the end reminds us that we are all pilgrims on the very special journey of life.

Curriculum links

  • English: Look at a short extract from Pilgrim's Progress or The Canterbury Tales.
  • RE: Find out about places of pilgrimage.
  • Geography: Find places of pilgrimage on a map of the UK.
  • Art: Look at designs of pilgrim badges and create new ones.
Publication date: July 2000   (Vol.2 No.7)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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