The most usual foreign pilgrimages were to the Holy Land, the scene of our Lord’s earthly life; to Rome, the centre of western Christianity; and to the shrine of St. James at Compostella.
The number of pilgrims to these places must have been comparatively limited; for a man who had any regular business or profession could not[Pg 160] well undertake so long an absence from home. The rich of no occupation could afford the leisure and the cost; and the poor who chose to abandon their lawful occupation could make these pilgrimages at the cost of others; for the pilgrim was sure of entertainment at every hospital, or monastery, or priory, probably at every parish priest’s rectory and every gentleman’s hall, on his way; and there were not a few poor men and women who indulged a vagabond humour in a pilgrim’s life. The poor pilgrim repaid his entertainer’s hospitality by bringing the news of the countries through which he had passed, and by amusing the household after supper with marvelous saintly legends, and traveler’s tales.
The Project Gutenberg eBook, Scenes and Characters of the Middle Ages, by Edward Lewes Cutts Published in 1911