Journal of Gerontological Social Work
Taylor & Francis
A pilgrimage is an intentional journey undertaken for reasons that can increase a sense of well-being. Although originally completed for religious purposes, motives in contemporary times may include anticipated religious, spiritual, and humanistic benefits as well as appreciation of culture and geography. This quantitative and qualitative survey research explored the motivations of a sample subset age 65 and over from a larger study who completed one of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela routes in Spain. Consistent with life course and developmental theory, some respondents walked at life decision points. The analyzed sample was 111 people, nearly 60% of whom were from Canada, Mexico, and the US. Nearly 42% were non-religious while 57% were Christian or a subset, Catholic. Five key themes emerged: challenge and adventure, spirituality and intrinsic motivation, cultural or historical interest, recognition of life experiences and gratitude, and relationships. In reflecting, participants wrote about sensing a call to walk and experiencing transformation. Limitations included snowball sampling, as it is difficult to systematically sample those who complete a pilgrimage. The Santiago pilgrimage counters a narrative of aging as diminishment through positioning identity, ego integrity, friendships and family, spirituality, and positive physical challenge at the center of aging.
Nelson-Becker, Holly; Pickard, Joseph G.; and Sichling, Florian. Adventure and Spiritual Restoration: Older Adult Motivations for Undertaking a Pilgrimage on El Camino de Santiago. Journal of Gerontological Social Work, , : 1-17, 2023. Retrieved from Loyola eCommons, Social Work: School of Social Work Faculty Publications and Other Works, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01634372.2023.2181906
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© 2023 Holly Nelson-Becker, Joseph G. Pickard, & Florian Sichling.