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This clip comes from the BBC series: Pilgrimage – The Road Through Portugal.

The Pilgrims reach the end of their long journey in the city of Fatima, one of the world’s largest Catholic pilgrimage sites. They go straight to the famous Sanctuary which was built and developed over nine decades on the field where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to three shepherd children. Dominating the square is the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, finished in 1953.

Su and Vicky visit the Chapel of the Apparitions, built on the very spot where the shepherd children said the Virgin Mary appeared. Here they are moved to see devout believers approach the chapel on their knees, praying for favours or fulfilling promises to the Virgin Mary.

Watch full episodes on BBC iPlayer.

Pilgrimage Moments: Arriving at the Fatima Sanctuary


Rita:        We're here. Look, guys, this is it. Oh, no. It's all we've got here. We did it! Flipping heck!


Narrator: Once a small rural village, Fatima is now a thriving city. At its center is the famous sanctuary. Covering a huge area. The sanctuary was built and developed over nine decades on the field, where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to the three shepherd children. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It's one of the world's largest Catholic pilgrimage sites. The Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary. Finished in 1953, dominates the square. And it's here. The pilgrims will join a crowd of tens of thousands for the candlelight procession tomorrow evening.


Rita:        Oh, this obviously takes thousands of people. Yeah.


Shane:     A big old gap. Oh.


Rita:        Well, I didn't know it'd be as big as this. It's magnificent. Look at it. Can you believe tomorrow night this is going to be chocker full of people? Yeah, I mean, this is really quite something else. Well done. Well done. We've done it. Well done.


Shane:     Good job.


Narrator: In the middle of the square in front of the basilica is the chapel of the apparitions. Originally a small wooden chapel built in 1919 on the spot where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared. It's now the heart and most sacred space of the sanctuary. As Sue and Vicki explore. Their attention is drawn by believers taking a path on their knees to the chapel, praying for a favour or to fulfill the promise to the Virgin Mary.


Rita:        I don't know how they managed it.


Vicky:     What are you saying Sue?


Rita:        That lady in the red, they're on their knees. And the guy there look because they're so devout. Oh, you're not being funny. The agony of it. No, no no no.


Vicky:     Can you see she's doing her rosary as she goes?


Rita:        Gordon Bennett, you'd be nearly dead, wouldn't you? The pain of it. And I suppose.


Vicky:     That's a part of it, you know, to show how dedicated they are. Their devotion.


Rita:        Yes, I think it's fantastic. This will live in the memory, seeing all these devout people walking on their knees. Whether you agree with it or not, it's quite, um, moving. Really?


Bobby:    It's a view, isn't it? That is a view. And the way the light is actually just shining on the basilica? Yeah. Absolutely gorgeous. The thing is.


Vicky:     It's it's like. I feel like it's more than just the visuals, but you could feel that there's something special here.


Pilgrimage Moments: Arriving at the Fatima Sanctuary

Video length - 03.33
Published date - Mar 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

This clip comes from the BBC series: Pilgrimage – The Road Through Portugal.

The Pilgrims visit the Carmelite convent where Lucia – one of the children who witnessed the miracle at Fatima – eventually lived as a nun until she died in 2005.

Bobby helps the Pilgrims to delve deeper into Sister Lucia’s story, and they meet Sister Anna Sophia, a Carmelite nun who had the privilege of knowing Sister Lucia in the final years of her life. She paints a vivid picture of Sister Lucia’s character, describing her as joyous, humble, and deeply humane.

However, Pentecostal Christian Shane finds it challenging to connect with Sister Anna Sophia’s account due to his belief that people should be free to pray directly to God without intermediary figures.

Watch full episodes on BBC iPlayer.

Pilgrimage Moments: Visiting the convent of Sister Lucia

Bobby:    We love our hills now, don't we now. We do love a good hill.


Sue:         A hill and a good start.


Narrator: Sue, Vicky, Millie, Shane and Bobby are going to a convent with an extraordinary connection to the sanctuary at Fatima.


Bobby:    So I think direction wise we are heading. So going up there but there will be a reward. This is the convent that Sister Lucia joined.


Narrator: Sister Lucia was one of three shepherd children from Fatima, who in 1917 reported seeing apparitions of the Virgin Mary who told them to pray the Rosary to bring peace to the world and end the Great War. Lucia's cousins Francisco and Jacinta died of the Spanish flu aged only ten and nine. Lucia dedicated herself to a religious life. She became a nun in 1926 and lived at the convent in Coimbra until she died in her 90s.


Millie:     When did she pass away? I think 2005.


Bobby:    2005 on 15th February. It became a national day of mourning. Oh, really? Portugal, she's like a mega, mega star.


Vicky:      Is it still a convent with practicing nuns and that?


Bobby:    It is. Yeah.


Vicky:      This is amazing. I've actually ever met a nun. The closest I've got is I watched Sister Act. Oh, it's very nice.


Narrator: The pilgrims make their way up to the Saint Teresa convent, which was Sister Lucia's home for 57 years.


Sue:         Look at this. Oh, look at it.


Millie:     What's he looking at?


Sue:         But there's a really big statue of Lucia. Oh it's of Lucia.


Bobby:    Yeah, we can see she went up to 98, so she.


Vicky:      Did nearly 100. I tell you, she had a good innings.


Sue:         Are we allowed to go up and look?


Vicky:      Yeah, let's have a look. For some reason, I didn't picture her with glasses.


Sue:         Oh, wow. I could be her sister. Look.


Bobby:    Hello.


Sue:         You look. She looks lovely.


Millie:     Yeah.


Sue:         98. Fabulous.


Narrator: It's a cloistered Carmelite convent, which means the nuns have very little contact with the outside world. Hello. Once the pilgrims have been let in. Bobby, the only Catholic in the group, shares what he knows about the story.


Bobby:    Obviously, we have Lucia there. Yeah, after she joined the convent. Yeah. Dedicated her life to Virgin Mary. And then here we have a younger cousins, Francisco and Jacinta, dressed in this sort of traditional Portuguese. Can you see what he's got in his hand? It looks like a crutch. I think it's a shepherd's stick.


Millie:     Mhm.


Sue:         No, they were the ones that died. Weren't they?


Bobby:    The cousins. Yes. It is sort of surreal to think our whole pilgrimage together, our journey, meeting all these people is all because of her and their cousins, their visions and how the story spread.


Sue:         But you know what I meant to ask you. Is there any documented evidence that they constantly were ridiculed by everybody else, saying they made it up? It's fantasy even.


Bobby:    Yeah. Even Lucia's mother.


Millie:     Yeah.


Bobby:    Um, beat her, saying rescind these visions that you had.


Millie:     But she didn't believe them. Yeah.


Bobby:    The mothers, they stopped making up these.


Sue:         Well, you see, it's so farfetched. It's like that term, you know. What about the fairies at the bottom of the garden?


Narrator: As Carmelites. The sisters can only speak two hours a day. But the pilgrims have been given special permission to meet a nun who knew Lucia during the last ten years of her life. Sister Ana Sofia. Hello.


Nun:        Welcome, welcome.


Millie:     I'm sorry for my ignorance, but what are the bars for?


Nun:        Yeah. Okay.


Sue:         Like us pilgrims when we're walking. No luxury, no nothing. Yes, it's the same.


Nun:        Yeah, yeah, yeah.


Bobby:    What was Sister Lucia like when you met her?


Bobby:    When Lucia had the apparitions as a child, Lucia's mother didn't believe and said, oh, Lucia tell everyone it didn't happen. What do you think about that?


Sue:         Yes that's true.


Vicky:      It's lovely to hear about from someone who actually met her. I feel like that's. Yeah, that's pretty impressive. You're amazing. Fantastic.


Sue:         Thank you. Thank you very much.


Nun:        Thank you. God bless you.


Sue:         Thank you very much.


Nun:        Have a nice travel.


Millie:     Yes, yes. God bless you.


Nun:        You pray for you. Thank you.


Sue:         Thank you so much. She was so good. That lady I mean terrific. I mean her answers and everything. She was.


Millie:     Really nice.


Narrator:  As a Pentecostal born again Christian sister Ana Sofia's account didn't resonate with Shane.


Shane:     The story was very interesting up until a point. Then it was like, I get what's going on here. I believe the, the, the intent is, is there, and the prayers and the praying for the people. And it's all very, very real. And they certainly believe it. But it's almost those prayers have no authority because they haven't a direct line to God. They're still going. They're still worshiping technically false idols, which is the only person meant to be worshiped as God himself. Not Mary, not Lucia, not Luke anything. The true route is direct to God, and anything that gets in the way is getting in your way.

Pilgrimage Moments: Visiting the convent of Sister Lucia

Video length - 07.01
Published date - Mar 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

This clip comes from the BBC series: Pilgrimage – The Road Through Portugal.

The Pilgrims continue their journey along the Northern Way, eager to delve deeper into the story of Fatima. Bobby enlightens the group by telling them about three shepherd children from the village of Fatima: 9-year-old Lucia and her younger cousins Francisco and Jacinta. On the 13th May 1917, they reported seeing a light descend from the sky and the appearance of the Virgin Mary, who told the children that to get to Heaven and to bring about world peace, they should pray the Rosary every day.

Over the next six months, the children reported seeing the Virgin Mary six times, including a final apparition on the 13th October, when they were promised a miracle. Word of the children’s visions spread rapidly, drawing a crowd of 70,000 people to witness what is now known as the Miracle of the Sun. It is said that the crowd saw the sun spinning in the sky, changing colour and size.

Fatima became a place of pilgrimage, and today it attracts over four million visitors a year.

Watch full episodes on BBC iPlayer.

Pilgrimage Moments: The Story Of the Fatima Miracle

Narrator: As the pilgrims continue to follow the Northern Way, they are keen to know more about its origins and connection to the city of Fatima.


Vicky:     Does anyone actually know the story of Fatima? Bobby does. Bobby does.


Bobby:    Yeah. So there was a girl called Lucia who was nine, and her cousins, uh, Francisco and Jacinta, who aged seven and six. And they had, like, a divine experience on the 13th of May, 1917. A light came down and a lady appeared before them, um. And the lady, the lady, the Virgin Mary.


Vicky:     So the lady.


Bobby:    The the lady. And she said to them an instruction, if you want to get to heaven, you've got to pray the rosary every day over the course of the next six months, they saw together the Virgin Mary like six times.


Vicky:     And everybody believed them. Yeah.


Narrator: The three shepherd children from Fatima claimed the Virgin Mary told them to pray the Rosary, to bring peace to the world and end the Great War. The children also said she promised that on her final apparition on October 13th, they would witness a miracle. Word of the children's vision spread and a crowd of around 70,000 gathered in the village of Fatima. What happened that day is now known as the miracle of the sun. It was reported that the crowd saw the sun spinning in the sky, changing colour and size. Fatima soon became a place of pilgrimage. The Catholic Church recognises the apparitions as credible, but it's not something Catholics have to believe. Today, the sanctuary attracts over 4 million visitors a year.


Pilgrimage Moments: The story of the Fatima miracle

Video length - 02.33
Published date - Mar 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

This clip comes from the BBC series: Pilgrimage – The Road Through Portugal.

The pilgrimage concludes in the city of Fatima, where tens of thousands gather every year on the evening of the 12th October for the famous candlelit procession to celebrate the Miracle of the Sun.

Bobby – the only Catholic in the group – has been given the honour of helping to carry the statue of the Virgin Mary from the Chapel of the Apparitions to the steps of the basilica. It’s an emotional experience for everyone as candles are lit, and departed loved ones are remembered.

Bobby reflects on his experience, and shares that he has decided to actively explore his faith in the future. The Pilgrims celebrate the end of their pilgrimage and their time together.

Watch full episodes on BBC iPlayer.

Pilgrimage Moments: The Candlelit Procession in Fatima

Bobby:    This is what we've been waiting, you know, the last two weeks. I know walking and old berges and meals and and blisters. This moment is all for this.


Vicky:     It is some view, though.


Bobby:    It is, isn't it? It is stunning, isn't it? Yeah. Really stunning. Every year.


Narrator: Over tens of thousands attend the famous candlelit procession to celebrate the miracle of the sun. It starts on the evening of October 12th and will carry on beyond midnight, along with a vigil, prayers and a mass.


Sue:        Hey, this is it, guys. We haven't got long to go.


Bobby:    Okay, I think the time has come. I'm gonna go.


Bobby:    Good luck. Wish me luck.


Rita:        I feel like you're, like, going off to, I don't know, like to graduate or something. Yeah.


Sue:        We'll be proud. We'll give you a great, big, fabulous loveliness. You're gonna smash it mate.


Bobby:    Oh thank you.


Rita:        Go on. Bob. So proud of you. Good luck Bobby. Yeah.


Rita         Enjoy it.


Narrator: Bobby is helping carry the statue of the Virgin Mary and is right at the front. They're taking the statue from the chapel of the apparitions to the steps of the basilica.


Vicky:     I feel like a proud parent and I know everything about that is so ridiculous. But he looks just so excited and so happy. And he's so. He is cute as a bunny in a bow tie, isn't he? So I'm just really thrilled to ribbons for him mate. That's what I am.


Sue:        All the mates that we've lost. Sadly, I feel a bit emotional. I am so.


Vicky:     Look. You looked amazing. You look great.


Bobby:    All this pilgrimage, I've learned that faith is something that can guide me and give me strength. This experience has been both life affirming and life transforming. I finally feel as if I've now taken this step to make faith something that I am choosing to actively explore and almost like metaphorically carrying the statue was almost. That was the moment where I took it on my shoulder and said, yes, I am actively choosing to put on this heavy weight and take one step forward at a time into the future. I've done it. We did it. Well done everybody.


Bobby:    364km.


Nabil:      Oh!


Sue:        Oh. It's tremendous. I can't believe it. It was a nice way to finish off. Yeah.


Pilgrimage Moments: The Candlelit Procession in Fatima

Video length - 03.48
Published date - Mar 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

This clip comes from the BBC series: Pilgrimage – The Road to the Scottish Isles.

At the end of Will’s first day on the Pilgrimage, he is invited to share his personal beliefs with the group after dinner. Will opens up about his journey away from church attendance after his grandfather’s death, and his own battle with non-Hodgkin’s blood cancer as a child. He fondly recalls the comforting prayers he received during his hospital stay, highlighting the role of faith during times of hardship.

The discussion moves on to experiences of faith, not only during life’s trials but also during moments of joy and contentment.

Monty challenges Laurence about his lack of faith, despite his remarkable knowledge of religion. Laurence defends his position, saying he is happy with his “mechanical universe”, but willing to take part in religious ceremonies for his own non-religious reasons.

Shazia also reflects on her upbringing as the only Muslim and person of colour in a Roman Catholic school.

Together, these conversations help the Pilgrims to deepen their respect for each other’s faiths and personal beliefs.

Watch full episodes on BBC iPlayer.

Pilgrimage Moments: The Lack of Faith

Narrator:  Over dinner. The group are keen to learn more about their newest pilgrim.


Laurence: Will, you've been parachuted in to join us, and it's wonderful to have you here, but we have all declared where we stand in terms of our personal beliefs, our faiths. Which religious fence do you sit on?


Will:        I'm pretty much on the fence. When my grandad died, my mum moved away and then we never went to church or anything. It was like one extreme to the other.


Shazia:    If you were drowning, would you pray to God?


Will:        Probably. I've never been in that position. You know where I've literally been fighting for my life or anything like that, apart from when I was like seven years old. And it's different when you're at that age, isn't it? You don't really know what's going on.


Louisa:    What happened when you were seven years old?


Will:        Well, I had non-Hodgkin's blood cancer. I was in Great Ormond Street, so that's when I had people in coming in praying and stuff like that. It was kind of comforting to know that they were like, they cared so much for me, and I'd like that.


Shazia:    Did they work?


Will:        Well? Yeah, I'm still here. So I guess it's strange, isn't it? Like when you're in desperate need you. I think you do need a faith. Or you need something like a god like. Because without sounding too morbid. But when you're when someone your son's on death's door or something, you want to hope that they go somewhere or that it's not the end.


Shazia:    Yeah.


Louisa:    I've never been in a situation where I've had to pray to God for something negative. I have only ever like, thank you for what, you know.


Laurence: That's so powerful because so many people don't do that. When it goes well, they just take it for granted. Mhm.


Monty:    Yeah. But Lawrence, I wanted to ask you a question. Since you've been here, you've been very theoretical. Right. Whenever I'm speaking to you about faith it doesn't come from your heart. It doesn't, it comes from the mind.


Laurence: But I completely get that. You intellectualise everything.


Monty:    I do intellucatualise everything. It's all coming from the books. It's not coming from your personal experience and heart. When you had a successful time, did you ever pray to God? Did you ever say to God, thank you for that great deal or something like that?


Laurence: Uh, no.


Monty:    I think you can have a very great understanding of faith without having faith.


Laurence: Absolutely, absolutely.


Laurence: I think you can read as many books as you like, and I'm sure that Lawrence has read most of them, but he hasn't got faith.


Monty:    No, I think you have strong faith within you, but you just don't know it.


Laurence: Monty, Monty. But the thing is that, you know, as I said right from the outset, I'm really happy with my mechanical universe.


Louisa:    Tell me something. You christened your children. Yes. For the purpose that it would be easy for them to. Administratively much easier. Okay. You got married yourself in a church. I did, yes. You did. Why?


Laurence: You know, the the mise en scene of getting married, the, you know, the kind of the art direction of getting married for me had to happen in the church.


Nick:       I think your your Christianity really is sort of the English middle class is a prayer.


Laurence: It is rather.


Nick:       It's a social thing.


Laurence: It is. We know absolutely everybody in our village and we meet at church. I mean, not every Sunday.


Monty:    So why do you go to church?


Laurence: Because we are all there together.


Louisa:    We are all together.


Louisa:    A certain type of religion is, as I said.


Laurence: Community.


Laurence: It's community.


Monty:    I don't believe that. I believe you have inside you. You have strong faith. As we stripping away the hat, the scarf and everything.


Laurence: You can't lose the scarf.


Shazia:    What he says. He's really happy the way he is. And I think you.


Laurence: Need to watch out slightly. I mean, I'm so fond of you, but one of the big things that we've almost really, really, you know, decided on as a family now is that we all respect each other's faiths, but we're not evangelizing. No one is trying to sell their faith to anybody else, I think. So, I mean, I love you to death, but you're not going to find a faith in me.


Laurence: I think there's a difference. And I think Monty grew up with a distinct community, and so did you.


Shazia:    But the thing is, I went to a Roman Catholic school. I was the only Muslim in the whole school.


Laurence: But you stuck to the culture that you grew up.


Louisa:    Can I ask you something? Were you the only person of color?


Shazia:    Yeah.


Louisa:    So there was no Hindus? There was no. No, I was the only Muslim.


Shazia:    And I was the only brown girl in the whole school. And I had to go up every Friday and do mass, take Holy Communion. Did you feel different? Yeah.


Laurence: Did you feel different? Is it?


Shazia:    And the thing with me is I'm used to being an outsider. Yeah, yeah.


Laurence: Um. Well, welcome to the merry band.


Will:        Cheers, guys. Thanks for having me.


Laurence Very good. Well.


Pilgrimage Moments: The Lack of Faith

Video length - 05.02
Published date - Mar 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

This clip comes from the BBC series: Pilgrimage – The Road to the Scottish Isles.

The Pilgrims attend Vespers – a Catholic evening service at a Benedictine Abbey. Candles flicker and incense fills the air as the monks sing the liturgy in Latin.

Laurence and Nick are profoundly moved by the traditional service. Laurence describes it as beautiful, meditative and exactly what he had hoped to experience on the Pilgrimage. For Nick, the experience reminded him of services he had attended as a boy, and felt the Latin gave the worship a majesty and dignity that he admires.

But Will is disappointed. He thought the service was repetitive and it made him want to go to sleep.

Watch full episodes on BBC iPlayer.

Pilgrimage Moments: Vespers

Narrator:  Eight services are celebrated at the Abbey every day. They're at the core of the monks daily lives. Almost every service is held in Latin, the common language of the Roman Catholic Church, using Gregorian chants, which originated in the Middle Ages. The pilgrims are invited to attend Vespers, the evening service.


Laurence:       I thought that was absolutely beautiful. I thought it was so movingly spiritual, really, really meditative. That was absolutely why I wanted so much to do this journey. That was exactly what I was hoping to experience.


Nick:       That service really was the first time that I'd been sort of moved on this pilgrimage. It was in Latin for me. That's what I was sort of used to, in a way, when I was a boy. And Latin just gave it the sort of majesty and the dignity that I admire so much, really.


Will:        It was just quite repetitive music. It was almost like I was going to fall asleep at some point, you know? I felt disappointed because there was no messages either, like if there was maybe prayers or something in between. It could have like maybe, you know, touched me in some way, if that makes sense. But I didn't I didn't get any of it, to be honest.


Pilgrimage Moments: Vespers

Video length - 03.09
Published date - Mar 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

This clip comes from the BBC series: Pilgrimage – The Road to the Scottish Isles.

The Pilgrims have just attended a Catholic service at a Benedictine Abbey which was conducted entirely in Latin. Scarlett initiates a lively – sometimes emotional – discussion with the Pilgrims about the language used in religious services.

Laurence, Nick and Shazia all enjoyed the service in Latin, but Scarlett and Will wanted to understand what was being said, and feel personally involved.

Laurence suggests that listening to the service in Latin engages a person’s intellect differently. This viewpoint provokes a reaction from Scarlett and Will, who highlight the importance of inclusivity in religious practises, regardless of educational background.

Eventually, they reach a resolution, exchange apologies and toast their appreciation of each other’s perspectives. The exchange highlights the diversity of spiritual journeys and religious views within the group, and the importance of listening.

Watch full episodes on BBC iPlayer.

Pilgrimage Moments: Latin or English Worship?

Narrator: After vespers and over their baked potatoes, the pilgrims discuss whether to go to any of the other services.


Scarlett:  There's a service in the morning that's not in Latin, so it's in English. Oh, wow. So if anyone wants to go to that. So we've experienced the Latin one and then we can know what was being said.


Shazia:    Then there's also a service at 450 in the morning. And I think that's a once in a lifetime experience to it.


Shazia:    Laurence, are you going there at four? No, because I had such a perfect experience today. I don't want to do that again. I don't want to risk there being another experience that didn't actually work in the same way. Quite right.


Nick:       I enjoyed today enormously. It takes me back to the old days. That's a proper, dignified, majestic service.


Scarlett:  Do you feel like it's better being in Latin than in English? Yeah. Oh, yeah. Really?


Nick:       You don't have a great opera aren't in English who wants to understand in a way.


Shazia:    You don't need to understand it. It's just the feeling you get from it.


Nick:       Exactly.


Scarlett:  I sort of got, like, lost a little bit, you know, when it was happening. I love going to a service where I feel like I understand what's being said and sort of try and put it in a what's happening in my life and whether I can take anything from it. And. Yeah.


Will:       Yeah. Because the words mean the words mean a lot to me. I fell asleep halfway through it.


Shazia:    You were in a liminal state? Yeah, it's a meditation. It is a meditation. I'm not sure whether it has the same power when it is in English. You know, there was a barrier. Are you saying in English it's going to be less powerful? Well, you engage your intellectual. Well, I.


Scarlett:  Feel like it's up to the person, isn't it? Nobody can say it's more powerful being in Latin, because that isn't what church is about, and that isn't what religion and faith is about. It's individual as a person. And obviously I didn't go to fancy school. I can't speak Latin, but I can speak a little bit of English.


Shazia:    But we I mean, you know, none of us are following it in Latin.


Will:       I just don't get why there's like, such a like it's better that it's like that. It's like this and it's purer and that's.


Shazia:    No, no one's saying that. No, it's it's.


Will:       I did hear that a bit.


Shazia:    No, no, but it's you know, Nick finds it purer for him.


Louisa:    I think Nick was brought up with it all in Latin. So for him, that is how he. Oh, no.


Scarlett:  I don't think it was Nick that I think it was Lawrence's comment of that. It's more intellectual when something's Latin that sometimes. No, no, no, no, no and will find that really that's not what I said. Because, you know, just because we didn't go to a posh school, it doesn't mean that we don't or we don't understand things. It just means that we feel things a little bit different.


Shazia:    That's absolutely not what I said. I said, no, no, wait but I think, no, no, Monty, please. Right. What I said was, when you hear it and you can understand it, you engage your intellect. I didn't say it's more intellectual. I think it's absolutely all about everyone doing it their own way, for sure, and not judging other people's way of doing.


Shazia:    Listen, I'm Muslim, and I was terribly moved by this.


Shazia:    We're not. You know, I'm not saying that there is a better way or not, but.


Scarlett:  I was trying to.


Shazia:    Defend you are both Anglicans and this was a Catholic service. And Anglicanism is in English. That's the whole point of it.


Will:       I'm just surprised by your reaction.


Shazia:    But listen, I'm surprised your not at all backing down. You're not at all. I accept your opinion. I'm surprised you're not just a little understanding.


Shazia:    We're arguing over a little bit of language, which is, unfortunately, something that always happens with religion. Yeah. You know, there are a couple of words that that, you know, didn't, didn't land. Yeah. As far as the room went. And I apologise deeply for that because. Well, that's actually.


Scarlett:  Very much.


Louisa:    Appreciated.


Shazia:    You know, I am absolutely here to support everybody's religion and there's no judgment attached to it.


Nick:       Everybody's got to fight their own corner.


Shazia:    They do the best.


Nick:       Of their ability.


Scarlett:  I feel like we need to have a little toast before we got to bed. Just saw that we're all all right together. Cheers.


Monty:    Cheers. Cheers. Cheers, guys.


Scarlett: Oh, this is our first heated debate. I didn't realize the family now. Yeah, we've got a proper argument.


Shazia:    I can't wait for you to come to the mosque.


Shazia:    It's looking good. Looking good, isn't it?


Pilgrimage Moments: Latin or English Worship?

Video length - 04.36
Published date - Mar 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

This clip comes from the BBC series: Pilgrimage – The Road to Istanbul.

The Pilgrims visit a cultural centre dedicated to Sufism – an ancient mystical form of worship that embraces all forms of Islam. Once banned by Turkish authorities, the centre now warmly welcomes people of all backgrounds, regardless of their religious beliefs.

The Pilgrims enjoy a communal meal featuring dishes from different regions of Turkey. Amar is blind, so Dom describes the various dishes on his plate.

After the meal they join the evening dhikr prayers where participants dress in traditional clothing, play music and chant in devotion to God. Men stand in a circle, and move in unison as they sing, creating an impressive spectacle. The Pilgrims find the experience incredibly moving, describing it as transcendent, extraordinary and profoundly spiritual. Even staunch atheist Dom calls it, “the powerful religious thing I’ve ever seen”.

Watch full episodes on BBC iPlayer.

Pilgrimage Moments: A Sufi Experience

Narrator:  The other pilgrims are visiting a cultural center dedicated to Sufism. An ancient mystical form of worship that embraces all forms of Islam. Local guide. Bushra greets them.


Local Guide:  Welcome. Hi there. Hello.


Dom:        How are you? Nice to meet you. Here you go.


Narrator:  Once banned by Turkish authorities, interest in Sufism has grown in recent years.


Dom:        You've got everything here like a school and a place to eat. It's like a center.


Local Guide:  Yes, exactly. It's like a community center. It's called Khulia. In Arabic. We have like, a place to eat. We have a library. We have a place where students go and learn, and we have Jahamey, you know, the center to pray.


Adrian:     And it's for Sufi Muslims?


Local Guide:  Yeah. Uh, actually, no, it's open to everybody.


Amar:       As long as you believe in God.


Local Guide:  If you don't believe in God, you can also come in. Everybody is welcome. Yeah. Everybody is welcome.


Narrator:  As guests of honor. The pilgrims are invited to a communal meal before evening prayers.


Local Guide:  So we're going to go this place. This is actually the men's dining room and the women's are over there. But we're going to do it together this time. Oh that's nice. Normally we are separated during the meals.


Dom:        And that's not a problem ladies.


Local Guide:  No because you're the guests.


Adrian:     Oh, that looks amazing. Oh, it looks wonderful.


Dom:        Let me just tell you, our things are really looking up. Really? Yeah.


Local Guide:  So our dervish ladies have prepared for your traditional Turkish food from all over the countries, actually, from the east, from, like the, like sea region, from the middle. So you will see pastry, you will see like the green, like the leaves and soft. Yeah. Meatballs and everything. Uh, you have like a special soup.


Amar:       I hope you don't have a rule that says you must eat everything.


Local Guide:  You have to finish your plate. Turkish mother said this.


Adrian:     This is the best meal we've had.


Dom:        It is incredible. The way to your heart is from your stomach.


Dom:        Definitely with me. Yeah, yeah, yeah.


Edwina:    Come this. This is good. Yes.


Dom:        This is wonderful. It is. This is magic.


Dom:        What you got there. Fried pickles.


Dom:        Fried pickles.


Dom:        Think I am a Sufi? I really, genuinely think you were.


Dom:        Born to be.


Dom:        If I enjoy the show.


Dom:        Then I'm in. Then. Then I'm in.


Dom:        See, this is absolutely fabulous. Proper food.


Amar:       Oh my goodness. I don't know what. Sweet. What's not. Is this.


Dom:        Random? Okay, these two are sweet. This is the spicy kofta okay. That's a sort of chickpea. Okay. That's vine leaves. Yeah. And these are stuffed peppers. Thank you. Okay.


Dom:        Oh, it's that good?


Dom:        I'm telling you right now that you can tell the Sufi religion has gone absolutely to the top of the charts. I mean, in the pilgrim state.


Narrator:  Evening prayers are about to begin. Known as the Zika worshipers dress in traditional clothing, play music, and chant in devotion to God.


Local Guide:  So what you're going to watch is this in Quran, God says, repeat my name hundreds of times, and when you repeat my name, I will repeat your name. So you watch. You're going to watch is like a man all in circles, and they're going to chant the names of Allah loudly with music. And when you repeat it, it's like sending the armies of Allah to your heart in order to cleanse it from the evil things. That's nice and get closer to him.


Dom:        And what would we do as visitor? Do we watch? We can't watch. We don't partake.


Local Guide:  If you want to participate, you can do. But just try to, uh. Be careful not to just, um.


Dom:        Get in the way.


Local Guide:  Right? Yeah, get in a way.


Dom:        Oh.


Local Guide:  That be a good imitator?


Amar:       Imitator?


Dom:        Okay, good. Yeah. Okay.


Local Guide:  So if you want to follow me. Lovely. Upstairs.


Dom:        Thank you so much.


Pauline:    When you pray.


Dom:        Catholics often pray. You know, what do you do? And Jesus, it's this. Yeah. Okay. Yeah.


Dom:        I am genuinely quite excited. It's literally like. It's like a gig's about to kick off. I really like this. Here we go. Ready?


Dom:        Now they're really going for it.


Adrian:     Really bending down a long way.


Pauline:    I can see how somebody partaking in that would leave in a state of bliss, because it's transcendent when they all move and sing and chant together. It was just head and shoulders above anything else that we have experienced.


Adrian:     I thought it was an extraordinary, you know, if I live near here, I'd just come all the time. I just thought it was such a great spectacle, apart from the the spiritual aspect of it, which I thought was profound. I mean, I can just imagine the release and, you know, whatever was on your mind, you know, you just by going through all that and knowing all that, you just get so much peace out of it. It was all worth it to see the mask of cynicism slide from Don Jolies face, as he was absolutely entranced by it.


Dom:        I thought that was the most powerful religious thing I've ever seen. It was incredible. It was like a heartbeat.


Local Guide:  Exactly.


Local Guide:  You coordinated with your heart.


Dom:        I was going, I was like, well, the breath like that.


Local Guide:  It's like natural.


Dom:        And because they're all wearing the same clothes, it's all in unison like that. It was amazing. It was just brilliant. We're probably a bit more cynical than other things. And the fact that we both love that.


Dom:        Yeah.


Dom:        You've done well.


Edwina:    You really have cracked two.


Dom:        You've cracked two hard nuts. That was probably the most extraordinarily powerful religious thing I've ever been to, but it kind of didn't make me feel religious. But just as a religious experience and service, that was absolutely 100% the best thing I've ever been to, you know? And I've come away thinking Sufism, you know what? If I had to, probably the one I'd go for.


Pilgrimage Moments: A Sufi Experience

Video length - 08.56
Published date - Mar 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

This clip comes from the BBC series: Pilgrimage – The Road to Istanbul.

Edwina, Amar, and Pauline embark on a solemn visit to the remains of the Crveni Krst concentration camp in Serbia – a memorial to humankind’s continued inhumanity. This site bears witness to the unfathomable cruelty endured by 30,000 individuals of Jewish, Serbian, and Romani descent at the hands of German forces during World War II. They see the bullet holes still in the walls where people were executed, and discover chilling facts about the camp’s history,

Edwina – who is Jewish – reflects on her upbringing in a post-war world marred by profound trauma. Pauline talks about the importance of acknowledging what happened at the concentration camp instead of just moving on.

Edwina concludes with the thought that places like the Crveni Krst camp are a challenge to faith. How could God let it happen?

Watch full episodes on BBC iPlayer.

Pilgrimage Moments: The Bullet Holes

Narrator: Across the city, Edwina has brought Ahmer and Pauline to a monument to more modern conflict, a site that stands as a memorial to man's continued inhumanity. The Seveni Krust concentration camp.


Edwina:  Oh, I can see the swastika. Jesus. Excuse me. We are standing in front of one of the smaller barracks. And over the door there is a swastika and Wache. And then. And ss. SS, isn't it? It is. So that's probably been the SS office.


Edwina:  Mhm.


Edwina:  But it looks like they got us a little gift shop.


Narrator: During the Second World War, a total of 30,000 people of Jewish, Romani and Serbian origin were held within this camp by German forces.


Amar:     So is this where people were executed? Yes.


Pauline:  It's incredibly humbling and devastating. It's extraordinary to see the marks where the bullets hit there that had gone through a person and executed it.


Amar:     So you can see bullet marks.


Pauline:  Do you want to come down and touch it?


Edwina:  Yeah. You go down.


Pauline:  Yeah. You you you you stay here. Yeah. I know it's upsetting you. So that's bullet. Bullet holes.


Amar:     Oh, wow. In there.


Pauline:  Yeah.


Amar:     If they can make a hole in the wall.


Pauline:  You know.


Amar:     Like how big they are.


Pauline:  Could you have you.


Edwina:  The world in which I grew up was one that was badly traumatized by the Second World War. Wherever you looked, there were bomb sites and three legged dogs. But also the Jewish community, of course, had lost so many people. Lots of things people didn't talk about. Lots of pain. It wasn't until much later that we realized what they had all been through.


Narrator: In 1942. 105 prisoners escaped from this camp. The first time an escape had been successful in mainland Europe. The response from the German army was brutal.


Pauline:  The Nazis implemented a policy of killing 100 Serbian hostages for every German soldier killed, and killing 50 for every soldier wounded in Serbia. They executed over 10,000 people on nearby Banja hill.


Amar:     Can you see people's pictures here?


Pauline:  Oh, yes.


Edwina:  Yes. Let me describe. There's an old man in a fez with a bristling moustache. Maybe he's an old soldier. There's a handsome man in a smart suit and a moustache. What's striking is the different ages of people. And young.


Pauline:  Old people.


Amar:     Wow.


Edwina:  When the 10,000 were shot, they were shot very publicly because that was a warning. You try this again. This is what will happen. Not just that you'll die, but you will cause the death of others. What was it? A hundred times as many.


Pauline:  Yeah, yeah. We're going to visit lots of places of worship on this pilgrimage, but it seems to me that places like this concentration camp should also be mandatory for anyone who is is making that kind of journey. Because this too is testament to what we must also acknowledge. It's not always just let's say hallelujah and move on. You got to mark it.


Edwina:  A place like this is a challenge to faith because if God exists and God is good, how could God let something like this happen? That's not the way I see it. So the way I see it is that we all have to take responsibility for our actions. There was a lot of bravery here, a lot of courage here. But in the end, it's a place of brutality and destruction. It's very, very sad. Do you know what? If I'd been in charge, I'd have burned the whole place to the ground. And I would have built a garden.


Pilgrimage Moments: The Bullet Holes

Video length - 05.06
Published date - Mar 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

This clip comes from the BBC series: Pilgrimage – The Road to Istanbul.

The Pilgrims follow the Sultan’s Trail to the Church of the Holy Virgin Mary in rural Serbia, to mark a significant day in the Serbian Orthodox calendar: the Birth of Mary, Holy Mother of God. Serbs are the only Christians to mark the day with a religious festival called a Slava – which is a reinterpretation of an ancient pagan custom.

Edwina describes the Church to Amar, who is blind.

Dom departs the service, reflecting on his discomfort in group settings, questioning if he’s yet to find his true community. But Adrian finds the ritual comforting and uplifting, and compares the Orthodox service to the Catholic ceremonies he is more used to.

Watch full episodes on BBC iPlayer.

Pilgrimage Moments: The Holy Virgin Mary

Narrator: Back together and back on the right path. The pilgrims have made it through the forest. On the Sultans Trail has brought them to the church of the Holy Virgin Mary. On a special day in the Serbian Orthodox calendar. The birth of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. The day is marked with a Slava, a special religious festival that brings together family, friends and pilgrims.


Fatima:   Coming through the door is a little step in.


Narrator: Serbs are the only Christians to celebrate Slava, a reinterpretation of an ancient pagan custom. The celebration dates back to medieval times.


Narrator: Halfway through the service, Dom leaves.


Dom:      Kind of like the chanting. But enough's enough really. Like after a bit I thought, right, I get the gist. I think there is an essential human need for people to want to get together and be as one, and maybe looking to something higher than them, but I just don't have it. It's not. I think I'm better or anything. I just don't like being part of a group. It's never done it for me, but maybe I haven't found the right one.


Narrator: But for Catholic Adrian, the ritual feels comforting.


Adrian:   I like being on my own in churches normally because at home I take a pew and just sit there and relax and think the Orthodox Church just sort of stand there. So in a way, it lends itself more to being with other people, of people standing all around you, and it feels nice and full and sort of quite intimate. After a while, I go into sort of a focused sort of state, and positive thoughts flooded into me, positive thoughts about my life and about, you know, my loved ones and all that. I've found it quite uplifting, really, in its own way.


Fatima:   We were at a tiny school and we had one of those little round discs on our tounge. They get a fistful of bread.


Pauline:  You can have a spoonful of the Blood of Christ area. And the wine. And yeah.


Fatima:   It's fascinating really, but the younger children get to mill about. I enjoyed it, I thought it was nice to be amongst the old artwork on the wall as well.


Pauline:  Beautiful, really beautiful.


Pilgrimage Moments: The Holy Virgin Mary

Video length - 03.50
Published date - Mar 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources