Min-Hwi Kim

Date of Award


Document Type



Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2018.

Degree Name

Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL)


Eduardo Fernández, S.J.


There is a saying that life is a pilgrimage. This journey is also echoed through Vatican II’s statement that "The pilgrim Church is missionary by her very nature, since it is from the mission of the Son and the mission of the Holy Spirit that she draws her origin, in accordance with the decree of God the Father."1 As such, a pilgrimage is an expressive act of desire to engage spirituality on a practical level, and "a journey to a special or holy place as a way of making an impact on one’s life with the revelation of God associated with that place."2 Our faith does not consist of an ideological or utopian world that exists only in our heads, but is instead an expression of practical, ethical action that explores the signs of the times amidst the realities of postmodernism3 and post secularism.

The Korean Catholic Church has been on a difficult road to meet and experience God. In 1784, Lee Seung Hun was baptized in China, taking the name of Peter, and with that the Korean Church began. Even after four great persecutions, the Korean Church never gave up her efforts to practice the faith. It is no exaggeration to say that the Korean church of today owes its existence to the many unnamed martyrs, of whom many were lay.

Since 2011, the Bishops' Conference has designated 111 holy sites throughout the country and conferred blessings on those who pilgrimed to these holy sites. This led to a certain pilgrimage 'boom'. The Bishop of the Missionary of the Episcopal Church and the Bishop of the Holy Land pilgrimage (Chairman Kim Sun-tae) presented a blessing to the organizers who pilgrimed to all 111 of the Holy Places listed in the "Catholic Church Pilgrimage in Korea" on December 12. On this day, 433 believers received blessings. As a result, a total of 2,664 persons received the blessing. A total of 1,215 people was awarded the blessing year in 2017.4 In this way, it can be seen that this ministerial approach to pilgrimage in the Korean Catholic is yielding good fruit.

The Catholic Church in Korea is researching how to integrate theology and spirituality of pilgrimage into mission, pursuing the unity of theory and practice.5 Pilgrimage is an embodied ritual, so the theology and spirituality of pilgrimage must also come out of a concrete practice. In the pilgrimage we undertake, the external pilgrimage to the holy place and the inner pilgrimage are not separate, but are rather complementary. The Korean Catholic Church is actively developing and revitalizing the ritual of outward and inward pilgrimage.

The Korean Catholic Church has practiced pilgrimage as a part of the faith life of the church community, even as it is seen as an option, not a requirement. This work will argue that the Korean Catholic Church should link pilgrimage with a variety of programs within this context. In particular, it should develop a pilgrimage program for young people to help them locate themselves within Korean church history and also within their communities in the long history of God’s providence.

In this sense, the goal of pilgrimage is not to abolish the relevance of church’s political, historical, or doctrinal contexts, but to restore its identity as a pilgrim community and to strengthen its evangelical mission as a community of churches. In other words, the theology and spirituality of pilgrimage will provide dynamism to the Korean church. This dynamic community can only be called an evangelical community when it truly is God’s salt, leaven, and light in the world.

In order to approach the crisis and opportunity of today's postmodern church situation in a missionary and communicative manner, I will study pilgrimage to these sacred sites and present this unique pilgrim spirituality as a paradigmatic transformation of the new mission and method of evangelization. The purpose of this dissertation is to consider pilgrimage, which is one of the various popular devotional acts, as an important phenomenon of the new evangelization. Hence, I will explore not only some Catholic studies from other parts of the world, but also the unique spiritual pilgrimage spirituality and its corresponding mission dimension that have been created through the spiritual phenomenon of Asian pilgrimages active in Catholic churches in East Asia.

This dissertation has four main objectives which underscore its significance to the field of missiology: (a) to examine what pilgrimage is from historical, biblical, and church viewpoints, and to provide its relevance for mission today; (b) to reestablish the relationship between pilgrimage and tourism as this form of popular devotion has unfolded throughout human history; (c) To help the reader understand the unique pilgrim spirituality of the Korean Catholic Church; and (d) as a local church in the world church, to better orient the future direction of this ministry and spirituality, not only in Korea but also in other parts of a world church.

In this work, the first chapter looks at the definition of pilgrimage sites and the meaning of the place where the pilgrimage is taking place, approaching this from historical, biblical, and ecclesial perspectives. First, I deal with the history of pilgrimage to the shrines of the Korean Catholic Church. Second, I present pilgrimage to these holy lands through the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments’ The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy-Principles and Guidelines. Third, I describe how it is that, from historical and biblical points, pilgrimages are deeply related to the human journey which has to do with salvation, engaging memory, penitence, liturgy and sacraments, and popular devotion. Lastly, I demonstrate how it is that pilgrimage is related to mission, one embodies by an intrinsic desire to live a life of faith.

The second chapter is more forced specifically at pilgrim spirituality in conjunction with the definition of pilgrimage in the early Church, the Middle Ages, and the Second Vatican Council. Furthermore, I examine pilgrimage, in light of pilgrimage spirituality, tourism, and theology, highlighting the theological restructuring act which enables the reader to re-illuminate Christian testimony and life.

In the third chapter I explain how the establishment of pilgrimage to the sacred places of by the Korean Catholic Church has produced legacy of faith that has been handed down through the faith of the martyrs and the myriad of ancestors of a faith witnessed by worship and service to God. Based on these spiritual aspects, I describe how these sacred places have grown through pilgrimage, a pilgrimage often focused around persecution and martyrdom.

Furthermore, I explore the activities of the Suwon Diocese for the promotion of pilgrimage. In particular, for example, guide books which assist the pilgrim in walking to these sacred places in the precincts, Didimgil, make the pilgrimage more enriching. A treatment of modern parish movements to promote the veneration of these saints and martyrs accents their continuing relevance and connection with the grassroots. This chapter is not without its description of more concrete ways of doing pilgrimage, such as that done physically walking, one done with a leader, and the creation of resources to assist pilgrims in furthering their relationship with a God who invites us to participate in mission. Some of my major learnings round out the work.

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