ABSTRACT

Turner applies the notion of communitas, forged in pilgrimage ritual, to show how pilgrimages and their shrines can also lend themselves to the construction of national identities. Catholicism, he argues, often mobilises national sentiments to stimulate religious practice, while nationalism can receive a sacred status through its endorsement within religion.1 The revived pilgrimages of post-war Britain were overlaid with appeals to communal identities, both Roman Catholic and national. When the faithful engaged in religious rituals in environments overlaid with symbols of national and religious identity, they enacted that shared identity. If this identity-forming aspect of ritual and religious space was true of pilgrimages, it was also true of more everyday religious practices. Benedict Anderson and others argue that the social conformism of ritual lends itself to the imagining of communities: ritual creates a commonality of identity amongst its immediate actors and links them to all those others who share its actions.2 Rituals surrounding the building of a church and those involving civic space articulated communities of the parish and the city and brought them into being.3