Pilgrim Voices

Authoring Christian Pilgrimage

in Journeys

During the Middle Ages, this story became the biblical model for pilgrimage. Christ himself was perceived to be appearing as pilgrim, and was frequently depicted fulfilling such a role in artistic representations of the journey to Emmaus. Here we have a truly scriptural model for the alignment of pilgrimage with the telling of tales. The narratives at stake are not only the vivid oral accounts of great events that had just occurred, but also the understanding of those stories in relation to older, established and written accounts, such as the scriptures ‘beginning at Moses’. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus, a place about seven miles from Jerusalem, are discussing what is recent history in the narrative of the Gospel but also sacred action from the perspective of a Christian reader – that is, the events of the crucifixion and the discovery of the empty tomb. When they encounter Jesus, he specifically requests a repetition of this narrative, which he then attempts to correct by grounding what is at this stage (in Luke’s representation) an immediate and oral sketch, in the deep and literary context of ‘all the scriptures’. Only when Jesus blesses and breaks bread – a reference that is both liturgical, in that it is eucharistic, and literary, in that it specifically refers back to the Last Supper in Luke’s own narrative (22: 19–20) – do the disciples evince appropriate recognition of their Lord, which is immediately the spur for more discussion and a return journey. After their encounter and identification of its significance, they waste no time in telling others of their experience.

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The International Journal of Travel and Travel Writing