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Unit 5.3: Pilgrimage

Key Question: Why do people of faith make a pilgrimage?

About this unit

Pilgrimage builds upon the understanding of ‘journey’ to explore personal responses to pilgrimage, exploring local and global pilgrimage sites for different faiths. 

It is important where possible to visit a local sacred place which may be a place of pilgrimage for some – church, cathedral, cemetery, memorial, garden, tree, monument, quiet space.   

This is a stand-alone unit as Pilgrimage is not specifically addressed in any other unit.   

Resources: pilgrimage artefacts and symbols, real-life stories and live webcam images, photographs, video clips

RE Learning Cycle
Unit 5.3: Pilgrimage
Programme of study Teaching and learning outcomes (AT1) Teaching and learning outcomes (AT2)
Beliefs & practices

explore how a person of faith may make a special journey

explore the diversity and significance of local religious places to faith groups and members of the community

compare key places of pilgrimage and identify why a faith member might go there

describe and show understanding of actions carried out by a pilgrim before, during and after pilgrimage

show understanding of what is sacred for believers in religious places

reflect on the reasons a faith member may make a special journey

suggest ideas about the meaning of pilgrimage to a believer and the impact on their life

explain the impact of a sacred place on believers 

In addition to viewing the individual sections 1-7 below, you may scroll to the bottom of the page to download the full unit as a PDF. You may also download the corresponding PDF of the Burning Core (S) version.

Think about journeys they have been on… what journeys are, who makes them and why

Link to places of significance for pupils; talk about significant places in the local community e.g. war memorial, memorial seat, park, trees
Introduce world pilgrimage sites on a map, estimate the distance and consider how to get there

Look up places of pilgrimage on the web, and view live webcams there

Read a guided visualisation of a pilgrim’s journey
What is pilgrimage? Who goes and why?

How does a pilgrim prepare for the journey? What do they take with them?

What does the pilgrim do when they get there?

What do they leave at the site and what do they bring away with them?

How does a pilgrim feel at different stages of their journey?

Where are the sacred sites of pilgrimage for different faiths? Why are they sacred?

What does pilgrimage mean to a believer? What is the lasting impact on their life?
Make a virtual or real visit a local sacred site and/or talk with someone who has been on pilgrimage

Visit a local or regional recognised faith place of pilgrimage if possible; find out why it is sacred for faith members

Identify artefacts used by the pilgrim and consider their purpose and meaning

Observe rituals performed at sites of pilgrimage and before, during and after a pilgrimage; discover how those actions link to faith beliefs

Read/listen to John Bunyan’s Pilgrims’ Progress and other stories of life-changing journeys; discuss the meaning of Christian’s story and consider the motivation and inspiration it brings to Christian believers
Investigate sites of pilgrimage for three different world faiths; identify the significance of what happens at each and make connections

Identify an important place of pilgrimage for several faiths; find out which sites are holy for which faiths and why

Investigate in detail what happens during a particular faith pilgrimage; highlight significant events for individual pilgrims; blog, tweet or video a diary as a pilgrim
Plan and carry out a pilgrimage around the school or local community, making sure pupils prepare themselves, identify rituals and leave something at the site from their visit

Participate in a prayer walk, make a pilgrimage to a labyrinth

Send a postcard from their visit a site of pilgrimage as a pilgrim; use their senses to describe the experience

As a class, create a multifaith guide to pilgrimage sites around the world; understand the significance of each site

Imagine life as a pilgrim; make a diary of events and journal thoughts and impressions as you go along and assess the impact at the finish
Is a pilgrim different to a tourist?

Discuss how and why a pilgrimage is different from any ordinary journey

Suggest reasons why some people think of life as a pilgrimage or journey; talk about how this fits the pupils’ understanding

Consider the words of the hymn To Be A Pilgrim or One More Step and put them into modern form - what do they say to pupils today?

Reflect on feelings experienced by pilgrims and the impact of pilgrimage on their life


Highlighted text indicates how this unit contributes to overall End of Key Stage attainment.

 AT1 (Knowledge & understanding) AT2 (Reflection & response)
Describe and make connections between different features of religions, including celebrations, worship, pilgrimages and the rituals which mark birth, death and marriage
Reflect on the significance for faith members of participating in celebrations, worship, pilgrimages and the rituals which mark birth, death and marriage
Describe and show understanding of links between stories, beliefs and practices of faith communities specified in the key content Respond thoughtfully to a range of sacred writings and the beliefs, teachings and practices of different faith communities
specified in the key content
Show understanding of how beliefs, practices and forms of expression influence individuals and communities Give reasons for the significance of beliefs, practices and forms of expression to individual members and faith communities
Explain similarities and differences within and between different religions and worldviews including key rituals, key artefacts, sacred places Reflect on similarities and differences within and between different religions and worldviews including key rituals, key artefacts, sacred places     
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