The importance of pilgrimages in the history of Christianity is often overlooked. Even today, millions of Christians travel every year to visit historic sites invested with spiritual meaning and power. In this episode we talk to Skye Doney, a historian and scholar of Catholic pilgrimages in  nineteenth and twentieth-century Germany. Skye’s new book, The Persistence of the Sacred: German Catholic Pilgrimage, 1832–1937 (published this month by the University of Toronto Press), is a masterclass in cultural history—detailed and nuanced analyses of how people from all rungs of society experienced the sacred while on pilgrimage. We explore the pilgrimages and relics and ask how these practices relate to a broader religious context in the modern period.

Skye Doney is the director of the George L. Mosse Program in History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He earned his PhD in European History at UW-Madison. In addition to his new book, he translated, edited, and annotated Eva Noack-Mosse’s Holocaust memoir, Last Days of Theresienstadt (Madison, 2018). His articles have appeared in Journal of Contemporary HistoryThe Catholic Historical Review, and Environment, Space, Place.

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Credits: Music by Micah Behr, audio engineering by Jesse Koopman, graphic design by Madeline Ramsey.