Peace Pilgrim

Witness for Peace (d. 1981)
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Photo of Peace Pilgrim walking along a road, Public Domain.

She called herself Peace Pilgrim. Otherwise, she had no interest in describing the particulars of her early life, her age, or even her given name. She walked back and forth across the United States for almost three decades, owning nothing but the clothes she wore and a tunic bearing her chosen name on the front, and on the back, the simple words, “25,000 Miles on Foot for Peace.”  

As far as she would reveal, her early years were conventional. But at a certain point she realized that a “self-centered” existence did not bring fulfillment. At this point she came to a “complete willingness, without any reservations, to give my life to God and to service.” At that point she was overcome with peace.  

After preparing for her mission, she set off on January 1, 1953. In those years, with the Korean War raging, nuclear arsenals growing, and fear of subversion abounding, even the word “peace” was regarded with suspicion. Nevertheless, carrying nothing that she could not hold in the pockets of her tunic, she walked from town to town, engaging in conversation with whomever she met and spreading the message of peace. In 1964 she stopped counting the miles, but she maintained her pilgrimage until July 7, 1981, when she was killed in a car accident.  

“Who am I? It matters not. This clay garment is one of a penniless pilgrim journeying in the name of peace. It is what you cannot see that is so very important. I am one who is propelled by the power of faith; I bathe in the light of eternal wisdom; I am sustained by the unending energy of the universe; this is who I really am.”  

—Peace Pilgrim 

© Liturgical Press.

Robert Ellsberg

Robert Ellsberg is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Orbis Books and the author of several award-winning books, including All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time; Blessed Among All Women; and The Saints' Guide to Happiness.

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