The Aachen pilgrimage

Eröffnungsvesper Kleid Mariens (c) Bistum Aachen

For over 660 years people have been making the pilgrimage, known as the "Heiligtumsfahrt", to Aachen. Their goal is to honour four relics, which have been kept as treasure in Aachen Cathedral since the time of Charlemagne. History has it that Charlemagne was given the relics as a present from Jerusalem around 800 AD. Since 1349, the relics have been removed from the golden Marienschrein in Aachen Cathedral once every seven years and put on display for the faithful of Europe and around the world for a period of ten days.

The relics, old cloth materials, are:

  • St. Mary’s robe from the night on which Jesus was born
  • Christ’s swaddling clothes, which Mary used to protect the baby
  • the cloth in which John the Baptist's head was kept after he was beheaded
  • Jesus' loin cloth which he wore on the cross

For many Christians, the pilgrimage has always been an opportunity to experience their faith and the faith community anew. The four Aachen relics are in this context seen as signs of salvation by Jesus Christ. For all pilgrims who come to Aachen, the question of the authenticity of the relics was and is therefore never important.

More than 100,000 pilgrims will also make the journey to Aachen in 2021 as a journey of faith and find the experience of community with other believers in Aachen. Pilgrims are invited to attend services in the Cathedral and on the Katschhof as well as to take part in an extensive range of other events.

The 2021 pilgrimage stands under the biblical motto "Who do you say I am?" (Mt. 16:15). This question to all Christians is: how do you see Jesus? But it is not only about the image of Christ. It is also about how people want to be seen today and how they present themselves - especially on the internet and in social media. Frequently changing profiles show that people present themselves differently to be discovered and to be seen. On the other hand, there is a need to more and more verify the identities of persons. Identity and veracity are two of the most sought-after character traits of stars, politicians and representatives of the church.

The claim "Discover me." is both invitation and request. It focuses on the motto: to find veracity in others and in oneself. To discover Christ and faith new or differently by the experience of the pilgrimage and its cloth relics.