Biblical Archaeology Review 12:3, May/June 1986

Books in Brief

Pilgrimages to Rome and Beyond: A Guide to the Holy Places of Southern Europe for Today’s Traveler

Paul Lambourne Higgins (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Spectrum/Prentice-Hall Press, 1985) 130 pp., $8.95

The purpose of this book is to introduce readers to sites that are given a distinctive quality by a blending of earth energies and spiritual influences. In quest of such holy ground the author takes us to Greece, the Aegean, southern Yugoslavia, Italy, Spain and Portugal, and invites us to encounter other-worldly beings that range from the Great Mother to Christian saints.

From the sites that the author has chosen and the way in which he presents them, it is easy to work out that his competency to write such a book derives from a number of standard package-tours, a second-class guidebook and an imagined sensitivity to spiritual vibrations.

The fact that the author took such limited tours is the only charitable explanation for his omitting many important places. The reader will find no mention of a number of sites that actually drew great crowds of pilgrims—such as Olympia in the Peloponnese, Mt. Athos in Greece, Compostella in Spain, or Pergamum in Turkey. To take the book at face value could give one the impression that nothing of spiritual significance ever took place on the eastern coast of Spain, in southern Italy, or anywhere in Greece save for within a short radius around Athens. Yet other sites (Belgrade, for example) are included, where it is clear that even the author was hard put to have a spiritual experience.

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