Sacrifice and Resurrection: The Annual 'Maria Helpim' Pilgrimage in Madang, Papua New Guinea

Anna-Karina Hermkens

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


    The pilgrimage site ‘Maria Helpim’ is located on a hilltop in the rainforest near the town of Madang in Papua New Guinea (PNG). It was originally the place where European missionaries were forced to stay during the Japanese occupation of Madang in World War II. When moved to this site, the missionaries brought a picture of ‘Our Lady of Perpetual Help’. After the war, priests started having mass at the former campsite in order to commemorate the missionaries who died there, naming it ‘Maria Helpim’ (in German ‘Mariahilf’). They subsequently started to organise an annual pilgrimage to the site on the 14th of September (the day of ‘the triumph of the cross’), and more recently, on the 15th of September, which is PNG’s independence day. Those who participate in this pilgrimage commemorate the missionaries who died and celebrate the advent of Catholicism in PNG, but they predominantly reflect on their own lives. Praying and putting their intentions to Mary, they seek help to solve, amongst others, family and health problems within a context of domestic violence, unemployment and the thread of HIV/AIDS. This paper focuses on the interplay between church doctrine and pilgrim’s lived religious experiences in the context of the annual pilgrimage to Maria Helpim, and in particular addresses how religious subjectivation works through the church and the pilgrims own emphasis on sacrifice and resurrection.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    EventSacred Journeys: Pilgrimage and Beyond - Oxford
    Duration: 1 Jan 2014 → …


    ConferenceSacred Journeys: Pilgrimage and Beyond
    Period1/01/14 → …


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