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Project 5 -- Where religion takes you

By Margarita I. Gotay

    Migration is not only due to materialism, work, survival, displacements and wars. Other people I met along my journey travel parts of the world for reasons that aren’t concrete or visible, and which to some may seem like nonsense. Religion is a phenomenon that is very sensitive, controversial and historically many events, wars and migrations have been due to religious beliefs and conflicts. Over the years Europe has been the battle field for religious beefs and crusades, as discussed in Castle & Miller's Chapter 11, "New issues and political forces: Islam in Western Europe", from The Age of Migration.

    Istanbul was the religious center of Islamic faith worldwide during the Ottoman Empire and a legacy of that are the countless Mosques everywhere you turn in this city. I observed the clash of the western and Asian beliefs in Hagia Sophia, where there the almost erased imageries of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and the angels seemed washed away. Here a church was turned into a Mosque. This precious structure in front of me was a symbol of religious conflicts and difference that in some parts of the world still exist.

    In Croatia while walking in Dubrovnik’s Old City looking for a place where I could buy my grandmother a rosary or any other religious item, I asked some priests and nuns where I could find a religious store. It happened to be that one of the priests was from Poland, the other one was from Germany, the nun was from Algeria, and a lady acompanying them was from Italy. They were all fluent in at least two languages, some even knew three. The Polish and German priest had meet during a training in New York where they lived in the US for 4 years. Now they were doing some missionary work in Europe.

    They took me to the store and invited me to the service at 5:00p m in the Cathedral. At that point in this trip I remembered that religion takes us places we don’t even consider going and that religion is everywhere. Missionary migrants have historically left an enormous imprint on the globe. Religious pilgrimage is more common than we acknowledge. As some travel to Mecca, others travel to Jerusalem, others to religious places where the Virgin Mary appears. Many others do service work in the name of their God wereas other fight and kill for their religion.


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