PILGRIM, a wanderer, traveller, particularly to a holy place (see PILGRIMAGE). The earliest English forms are pilegrim or pelegrim, through Fr. pelerin (the original O. Fr. pelegrin is not found), from Lat. peregrinus, a stranger, foreigner, particularly a resident alien in Rome (see PRAETOR, and ROMAN LAW). The Lat. pereger, from which peregrinus is formed, meant " from abroad," " travelled through many lands " (per, through, and ager, country).
It was customary for pilgrims to bring back as proof of their pilgrimage to a particular shrine or holy place a badge, usually made of lead or pewter, bearing some figure or device identifying it with the name or place. These " pilgrim signs " are frequently alluded to in literature notably in the Canterbury Tales and in Piers Plowman. The British Museum and the Musee Cluny in Paris have fine collections of them, mainly dredged from the Thames and the Seine. The badges were generally worn fastened to the pilgrim's hat or cape. Among the best known are those of the cockle or scallop shell of St. James of Compostella in Spain; the " vernicle," a representation of the miraculous head of Christ; the vera icon, true image, on St Veronica's handkerchief, at Rome, or of the Abgar portrait at Genoa, of " a vernicle hadde he sowed on his cappe " (Cant. Tales, " Prol." 685); the Amiens badge of the head of John the Baptist on the charger, the cathedral claiming the custody of the relic from 1206 (fig. i); and the palm branches or cross of palm leaf, the badge of the " Palmers " pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The most common of the English pilgrims' signs are those of the shrine of Thomas Becket at Canterbury, the greatest centre of pilgrimage in England. These take a variety of forms, (From Andrews' Church Treasury.) (From Andrews' Church Treasury.)
FIG. I Pilgrim's Sign, from FIG. 2. Pilgrim's Sign, from the cathedral at Amiens. Canterbury.
sometimes a simple T, sometimes a bell marked campana Thome, the Canterbury bell, most often a figure of the saint, sometimes seated, sometimes riding on a horse, and carrying his episcopal cross, and with hand uplifted in benediction (fig. 2). Sometimes the badges took the shape of small ampullae, or vases, as in the case of the badges of the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, which were marked with a W and crown.
See W. Andrews, Church Treasury (1898), article " Pilgrims' Signs," by Rev. G. S. Tyack; and Guide to Medieval Room, British Museum, p. 69.
The English " Pilgrims' Way." From Winchester, in Hampshire, to Canterbury, in Kent, runs a road or way which can still be traced, now on the present made roads, now as a lane, bridle path, or cart track, now only by a line of ancient yews, hollies or oaks which once bordered it. To this old track the name of " pilgrims' way " has been given, for along it passed the stream of pilgrims coming through Winchester from the south and west of England and from the continent of Europe by way of Southampton to Canterbury Cathedral to view the place of the martyrdom of Thomas Becket, in the north transept, to the relics in the crypt where he was first buried after his murder, in 1170, and the shrine in the Trinity Chapel which rose above his tomb after the translation of the body in 1220. There were two festivals for the pilgrimage, on the zgth of December, the day of the martyrdom, and on the 7th of July, the day of the translation. The summer pilgrimage naturally became the most popular. In 1538 the shrine was destroyed and the relics of the saint scattered, but the great days of the pilgrimage had then passed. Erasmus gives a vivid picture of the glories of the shrine and of all that was shown to the pilgrims on his visit with Colet to Canterbury in 1514.
The principal villages, towns and places near or through which the way passed are as follow: Winchester, Alresvord, Ropley, Alton, Farnham (here the way follows the present main road), Scale, Puttenham, by the ruined chapel of St Catherine, outside Guildford, near where the road crosses the Wey above Shalford, 1 and by the chapel of St Martha, properly of " the martyr," now restored and used as a church, Albury, Shere, Gomshall, Dorking (near here the Mole is crossed), along thesouthernslopeof Boxhill to Reigate, then through Gatton Park, Merstham, Otford, Wrotham, after which the Medway was crossed, Burham, past the megalithic monument Kit's Coty House, and the site of Boxley Abbey, the oldest after Waverley Abbey of Cistercian houses in England, and famous for its miraculous image of the infant saint Rumbold, and the still more famous winking rood or crucifix. The road passes next by Hollingbourne, Lenham and Charing. At Otford, Wrotham and Charing were manorhouses or rather palaces of the archbishops of Canterbury; at Hollingbourne was a manor of the priors of Christchurch. After 1 Shalford Fair, the chapels on the two hills and the Surrey hills are probably the scene of Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, see E. Renouard James, Notes on the Pilgrim's Way in West Surrey (1871).
Hollingbourne come Westwell, Eastwell, Boughton Aluph, Godmersham, Chilham Castle, and then at Harbledown, where are the remains of the Hospice of St Nicholas, the road joins Watling Street, by which came the main stream of pilgrims from London, the North and the Midlands.
This road, although its name of the Pilgrims' Way has for long confined it to the road by which the pilgrims came to Canterbury from Winchester, follows a. far older track. Right back into British and even older times the main direction which commerce and travellers followed across southern and western England to the Straits of Dover and the Continent lay from Canterbury along the southern chalk slope of the North Downs to near Guildford, then by the Hog's Back to Farnham. At this point the oldest track went across Salisbury Plain towards Stonehenge and so on to Cornwall. From Farnham westward the only portion of this the oldest track that can now be traced is a small portion that still bears the name of the Harrow (i.e. hoary, old) road. It was in early times abandoned for the road from Winchester to which the stream of travel and commerce from the Continent and the south and south-west of England was diverted.
The " pilgrims' way " has been traced fully in Mrs Ady's book The Pilgrims' Way (1893), and the older track in the fullest detail in Hilaire Belloc's The Old Road (1904).
The American " Pilgrim Fathers." In American history the name " Pilgrims " is applied to the earliest settlers of the colony of Plymouth, Massachusetts, and more specifically to the first company of emigrants, who sailed in the " Mayflower " in 1620. They were from the beginning Separatists from the Church of England; they had established Independent (Congregational) churches at Scrooby and Gainsborough early in the 17th century, and some of them had fled to Amsterdam in 1608 to avoid persecution, and had removed to Leiden in the following year. They sailed from Delftshaven late in July 1620, from Southampton on the 5th of August, from Plymouth on the 6th of September, and late in December 1620 founded the colony of Plymouth, Massachusetts. See MASSACHUSETTS; PLYMOUTH, and MAYFLOWER.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)