The Role of Pilgrimage for Peace: A Study in St.Lalibela Rock Hewn Churches

The Role of Pilgrimage for Peace: A Study in St.Lalibela Rock Hewn Churches

Belay Asmare

Woldia University, Department of Political Science and International Relations

It is common to see thousands of pilgrims, both inside and out, to St. Lalibela Rock hewn churches of Ethiopia. But, it is uncommon to see studies on the role of pilgrimage for peace: much of the researches are focused on the economic importance of pilgrimage tourism in the country. Despite the existence of many religious tourist sites, scholars in Ethiopia gave little or no attention to the importance of pilgrimage for peace. Accordingly, the objective of this article is to investigate the role of pilgrimage for the inner and outer peace of pilgrims to St. Lalibela Rock hewn Churches of Ethiopia. To achieve this objective, the article employed 20 purposively selected pilgrims for in-depth interviews, four key informants (two were Tourism bureau officials of Lalibela town, and the other two were priests of the Church), personal observation and document reviews to collect data. In addition, one FGD, containing eight pilgrim discussants, was held with the pilgrims to elicit group ideas about the issue. Thematic categorization and analysis was used to analyze the collected data. The article revealed that the pilgrimage provides different inner peace for the pilgrims like, purification (healing from sin), relinquishment of self will, relinquishment of separateness, relinquishment of negative feelings, avoiding of the worrying habit, avoiding of the anger habit and the fear habit. Moreover, the article argued that the pilgrims achieved outer peace: upholding human dignity, challenging prejudice and building tolerance, promoting non-violence behavior, resolving and transforming conflicts, sharing of resources, caring not only for other pilgrims but also to the environment, and making inter-personal and inter-communal linkages. The article, therefore, concludes that pilgrimage cultivates both the inner and outer peace for the pilgrims in the study area. Finally, the article recommends that the role of pilgrimage for peace education in general and for the peace of pilgrims in particular need to be studied in other similar sacred places of Ethiopia in addition to their economic importance.

Keywords: Amhara National Regional State, Inner peace, Outer Peace, Pilgrimage, St.Lalibela Rock Hewn Churches

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How to cite this article:
Belay Asmare. The Role of Pilgrimage for Peace: A Study in St.Lalibela Rock Hewn Churches. Global Journal of Religions, 2020,2:7


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