To pray and to play: Post-postmodern pilgrimage at Lourdes

Simon Thomas, Gareth R.T. White*, Anthony Samuel

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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    This research examines the factors that religious pilgrims draw upon when constructing a personal meaning of their visit to Lourdes. Through an ethnographic examination of twenty-five individuals it finds that their experiences may be characterized by the common themes that comprise ‘lived connections’, unexpected ‘encounters’, ‘visual’ and ‘curative’ content. These themes parallel those that feature in the seminal account of Bernadette Soubirous' vision of the Virgin Mary in 1858, which we collectively term ‘Echoes of Bernadette’. Those who successfully navigate the apparently contested spaces and interact in meaningful encounters are partaking of a pilgrimage that is rooted in the religious and the historic. The study provides a contribution to the theory of pilgrimage by declaring that it may be enacted in a post-postmodern duality that accepts the freedom of the individual but recognizes their need for experiences that are grounded in a sociohistorical ‘truth’.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)412-422
    Number of pages11
    JournalTourism Management
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018


    • Lourdes
    • Meaning
    • Pilgrimage


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