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    Army style, we marched: war and peace in the cross-carrying pilgrimages to Vezelay and Walsingham, 1946-1948

    Hurlock, Kathryn ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7331-4903 (2023) Army style, we marched: war and peace in the cross-carrying pilgrimages to Vezelay and Walsingham, 1946-1948. British Catholic History. ISSN 2055-7973 (In Press)

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    This article analyses the cross-carrying pilgrimages to Vézelay and Walsingham staged between 1946 and 1948 which were aimed at achieving peace, penance, and reconciliation at a time when there were fears that war would return, communism was on the rise, and the nuclear threat was real. The wholly religious post-war Catholic pilgrimages made up of several contingents (or Stations), they stand in contrast to the ‘secular’ pilgrimages to battlefields and cemeteries that took place after 1918, yet they retained a strong military element because of the substantial involvement of veterans, the organisation and leadership of the pilgrimages, and the way they were articulated. This article argues that the pilgrimages gave veteran pilgrims a chance to continue their service in the form of direct spiritual action, utilising their wartime experiences in the arduous context of pilgrimage in order to conduct these physically challenging journeys. Wider aims of atoning for wartime actions were also important, as were the ways in which the pilgrims were received by the communities they passed through. Ultimately the pilgrimages were unsustainable due to their novelty and complexity, but they laid a foundation for military-penitential pilgrimages, provided an outlet for spiritual and worldly concerns, and presented Catholics (especially in Britain) in a positive light in the years immediately after the end of the Second World War.

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