Pilgrimages and religious shrines play an important part in Christian worship.
Pilgrimages can be a spiritual reenactment of the historical Exodus, they can be a way of honoring the Incarnation of the Lord (in a region now called the “Holy Land”), or seeking the intercession of the saints, especially the Mother of God. A great number of Marian shrines mark the site of a miraculous intervention of Jesus' Mother at a given point in time, and they are still places were “miracles” happen.
"It is a good thing for each region to possess one or more Marian shrines, built for a specific reason, with the consent of the local bishops; this is how devotion to Mary can be lived out in a concrete way."
(Saint John Paul II, Homily in Beauraing, May 18, 1985)
Of course, it all began 2,000 years ago in Nazareth of Galilee, a small town in the Holy Land where the Virgin Mary was visited by the Angel Gabriel at the time of the Annunciation. Today, a large basilica stands over the place where the Virgin replied “Yes” and became the Mother of the Messiah promised to all nations, Jesus Christ. Nazareth is the very first Marian shrine and for this reason it has universal appeal.