Senior Theses

Publication Date


Document Type

Thesis (Open Access)

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in Sociology


Sociology and Anthropology

Faculty Advisor(s)

Robert Gardner

Subject Categories

Community-Based Learning | Place and Environment | Religion


This study explores religious pilgrimage, specifically within the Christian tradition, and the individual experience of pilgrims as they travel to a small ecumenical village in Taizé, France. Taizé is a pilgrimage site drawing many young adults from around the world to spend a week or more at the village, participating in a variety of bible study groups, volunteer work, and personal reflection. Because many young adults are experiencing a transitional phase into adulthood with crucial decisions about academics and future life plans, Taizé provides a liminal space of validation and spiritual understanding. Through interviews with pilgrims on-site and ethnographic fieldwork as a pilgrim myself, this study highlights some of the push-and-pull factors of why young adults are drawn to sacred pilgrim sites and what they experience within this intensified temporary community. The findings of this study illustrate the link between the function of Taizé as a religious institution, weekly reproducing spiritual values that establish a central value system, and pilgrims as catalysts of human agency choosing to embark on a religious pilgrimage, collaboratively learn, and carry practical human values learned at Taizé outward into the larger global sphere. The results of the study articulate the importance of religious pilgrimage as an individual journey seeking enlightenment, as well as the specific importance of Taizé fostering spiritual and global solidarity among young adults associated with various Christian denominations that have historically been fragmented because of disjunctures in ideology and practice.