Pilgrimage to Sacred Space and Time in Contemporary Greece: The case of Meteora
(University of Helsinki)
Paper short abstract:
This paper addresses Christian pilgrims' trips to the Meteora, Central Greece, and inquiries into the social, spatial, and temporal relations and connections that become enacted through Christian narratives, practices, and imaginaries.
Paper long abstract:
Pilgrimage shrines possess qualities that make them worthy of travel, worship, and other creative actions, while pilgrimage sites emerge as parcels of sacredness, at once different to the rest of the (profane) world and belonging with the world. What matters for pilgrims is to find themselves in places where saints have lived and died, in places where visitations and miracles are known to happen, in places endowed with relics, icons, and other significant material objects. In journeying towards these places, pilgrims encounter the sacred, yet they also encounter a great deal of the profane too — passports and visas, ferry rides and bus drives, tourist industries and market capitalism, the sceptic and the blasphemous. If the quality of sacredness positions these places within religious realms, then national borders, state regulations, and market exchanges position these very places within secular realms. In this paper, I address the coexistence and interaction of religious and secular significations of place, with particular reference to pilgrimage to Meteora, a magnificent rocky formation located in Thessaly, Central Greece, neighbouring the town of Kalambaka. Meteora is at once included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, an important geological and archaeological site, a popular destination for climbers and nature lovers, and finally, a significant centre of Christian Orthodoxy, second only to the Holy Mountain of Athos. This paper will attend to Meteora's variegated 'relative locations', and will attempt to delineate the different 'locating regimes' that operate in its multiple, conflicting, and (dis)connecting designations.
Locating the Mediterranean: connections and separations across space and time