Walking the Camino: An Onsite Pilgrimage Course


I am currently developing a bilingual, ambulatory pilgrimage course that I would offer on-site in France in the summer.  Together, me and my students (University of Ottawa undergraduate and graduate students, as well as interested community members), would take two weeks to walk from Puy-en-Velay to Conques, France, staying overnight in the famous pilgrim “refugios.”  As we collectively traverse one of the most historic and beautiful parts of this ancient pilgrimage route, known as the “Camino Francés,” students would have unlimited opportunities to learn first-hand about saints and relics, iconography and ritual, church art and architecture, and medieval and modern pilgrimage practices. 

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SRS 6907: Understanding Catholic Relics



Relics are, inarguably, one of the most fascinating aspects of Roman Catholicism.  The mortal remains of those hailed as saints by the Catholic Church – their bones, hair, teeth, and blood – paradoxically point beyond death to eternal life, even as they serve as a favored means of miraculous intervention in the here-and-now.  Seen by some as grisly, even morbid, relics are actually symbols, not of death, but of its defiant transcendence.  Though fundamental to the faith throughout its history, relics are not uniquely Catholic, as many other world religious traditions have analogous phenomena.  This graduate course traces the evolution of Catholic relics from their emergence in early Christianity, through their medieval florescence, to their defiant defense during the Counter Reformation, to their still critical presence in the modern world, whilst comparing them with similar beliefs and practices in other global religions. 

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