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Spirituality in Silence and Nature: Motivations, Experiences and Impressions among Swedish Pilgrims

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image of Journal of Empirical Theology

Pilgrimages arranged by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sweden are a relatively new, but growing phenomenon. This study examines Swedish pilgrims' background, motivations, and experiences. Most pilgrims are highly educated, middle-aged persons with a strong relation to the church. However, a group of religiously interested persons with weaker bonds with the church was also identified. The pilgrims uphold a multitude of motivations both on an individual as well as on a group level. The most common motivation is a longing for nature, but three different motivation groups were identified: a leisure group, a spiritual–religious group, and an escape group. Depending on their motivations, the pilgrims appreciate diverse parts of the pilgrimage. One exception is the silent walk, which gets the highest score by almost everyone. The author discusses if the highly valued silence in group might reflect the power of strong self-expression values among Swedes found in other studies.

Affiliations: 1: Faculties of Humanities and Theology of Lund University, Sweden;, Email:


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