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Is there a specific word for the destination of a pilgrimage? (That is, if you go on a pilgrimage to X, X is the _ of the pilgrimage.) I'm looking for a word that has the appropriate spiritual or devotional aspect, not a generic synonym for "destination" or "site" or what-have-you.

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3 Answers 3

Besides being the literal destination for many such pilgrimages, the word Mecca (sometimes mecca) is often used in this way – i.e., metaphorically.

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No, not for a devotional pilgrimage. You could say that the Olympics are a mecca for sports fans; but you couldn't use the word for Walsingham, or Fatima or other pilgrimage sites. Walsingham may be a mecca for Catholicism-junkies, but using "mecca" would be pejorative. (And yes, I'm off to Walsingham next month). Now I have just to think of the right word with the desired devotional/spiritual aspect! That's not easy... –  Andrew Leach Jun 25 '12 at 8:23
    
@AndrewLeach: Fair enough, yet that might depend on how one is using the word pilgrimage. Most dictionaries, like Collins or Macmillan list two meanings: what you call a "devotional pilgrimage," and a trip made for more sentimental reasons (so, I would say at 2012 trip to the London Olympics could count as a pilgrimage). But, you're right: the O.P. specified a "devotional" journey, so I've only answered ½ the question; I look forward to you finishing it :^) –  J.R. Jun 25 '12 at 9:32

As I said in my comment, finding the right word to fill in the blank is not easy.

If you go on a pilgrimage to X, X is the _ of the pilgrimage.

In fact, I think the right word in this context is either destination or site. However, one makes a devotional pilgrimages to a shrine, which may provide the right word for a slightly different sentence.

Note: as in JR's answer, shrine can be used in a non-devotional sense too: "His daughter's bedroom was a shrine to Abba."

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Mamma Mia! I do like this answer (I Do I Do I Do I Do I Do!). Shrine isn't a bad candidate, but my favorite part of all was your example sentence – I think I laughed for a full minute. Even now, I can picture that room in my brain, with the walls covered in posters like this. As you said, this is a tough question; should we send an SOS? –  J.R. Jun 25 '12 at 16:45

As disappointing as it may seem, the word most commonly used seems to be "end".

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End can also refer to the breaking-off of the pilgrimage before it reaches its destination, or the process of arriving at the destination rather than the destination itself. You could also use goal, but that can also refer to the spiritual purpose of the pilgrimage and not the final destination. If you want an unambiguous term for the place the pilgrimage is headed, destination, as Andrew suggests in his answer, seems to be the right word. If there is an appropriate word for this with devotional connotations, it's not used much.

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"End/Conclusion" can also mean leaving the pilgrimage site after a few days' stay. "End" can also mean "goal", which as you say may be the spiritual purpose. I think there's rather too much ambiguity for the graph to be particularly meaningful (sorry!) –  Andrew Leach Jun 25 '12 at 15:18

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