Once sacred to the pagan Celtic god Lugh, this mountain in western Ireland has been a place of pilgrimage for many thousands of years. It became a Christian holy site thanks to St. Patrick, who is said to have fasted for 40 days on its summit in 441. During the years when penal laws institutionalized discrimination against Roman Catholics in Ireland, the Croagh Patrick pilgrimage was a focus of defiance and attempts to suppress it were met with fierce resistance.
Today the climb up its rocky slopes continues to be a popular pilgrimage, particularly on the last Sunday in July when more than 20,000 visit the mountain. As a sign of devotion and penance, some pilgrims walk barefoot to the summit of Croagh Patrick. The hike to the top takes about two hours and ends at a chapel at the summit.
Did You Know? In pre-Christian times, women seeking to become pregnant would spend the night atop Croagh Patrick.
Next site: Vatican City, Rome
Main page for Christian Pilgrimage Sites
Lori Erickson is one of America’s top travel writers specializing in spiritual journeys. She’s the author of the Near the Exit: Travels With the Not-So-Grim Reaper and Holy Rover: Journeys in Search of Mystery, Miracles, and God. Her website Spiritual Travels features holy sites around the world.