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Pilgrim- for-rent
lesson plan

The theme of this lesson could simply be a different way of doing things or it could be a way into changing values. Or it could be just about pilgrims & pilgrimages & the miracles at Fatima.
A word of warning - although this is an fairly amusing article about an aspect of religion, it should not be used to ridicule pilgrims, pilgrimages or religion in general. If treated with respect all types of students can enjoy the article & the lesson.

Preliminary information

Time: 60 >> 90 minutes

Level: Intermediate upwards

To give extensive & intensive reading practice
To review language from the text
To give freer speaking practice

That the stds will find the article interesting.
That the language in the text will not be too difficult.

Anticipated Problems and Solutions:
Depending on level, some of the vocabulary may be challenging >> a meaning from context task or similar vocab task after the reading stages.

The text for Reuters 'Oddly Enough' section
Question & answer text from Carlos Gil's site


Stage 1 - Intro to the article - pilgrims & pilgrimages.
10 mins (??) tch<>stds, std<>std, stds<>tch
1. On the board 'Pilgrim' - elicit pilgrimage & then get the stds into pairs to discuss what they know about famous & not so famous religious pilgrimages.
2. Pairwork.
3. Feedback - you could elicit some other non-religious pilgrimages that people make. Ask if anyone know about the Fatima Catholic pilgrimage in Portugal, what kind of people go on pilgrims & would they like to go on one.

Stage 2 - Reading - see text below
15 mins tch<>stds, std<>std, stds<>tch
1. Put the title on the board - 'Rent-a-Pilgrim'& elicit what they think this means.
2. Set the extensive reading task - read quickly to find out how this scheme is organised. (they need to read all the text as it comes near the end of the article.)
3. Stds read - 2 mins max - depending on ability - but do give them a strict time limit to help them to speed up their reading rather than read every word.
4. Stds compare in pairs,.
5. General feedback

6. More intensive task - either a true/false task, multiple choice - non-linguistic tasks - or get them to write their own questions for each other. The aim is to get an overall fairly detailed understanding of the article.
7. Set the task.
8. Stds read.
9. Stds compare answers.
10. General feedback.

Stage 3 - Language noticing & analysis
Areas to pick up on are the instances of in/direct speech, why the writer chooses one rather than the other at different times, & what each might be if transferred into in/direct speech.

Stage 4 - Further reading - questions & answers from Carlos' site.
10 mins tch<>stds, std<>std, stds<>tch
1. Give out the questions - stds discuss answers in pairs.
2. Give out the answers - stds match with questions.
3. Feedback - picking up on anything interesting & make it into a class discussion. eg what would you take for a 6 day pilgrimage - this could be extended into the classic 'Survival Game'.

Stage 4 - Follow up ideas

Roleplay: Carlos & skeptic discuss his project / ring up Carlos & contract his services....
- Debate over the ethical nature of the scheme - & then move into other ways of doing things.
- Write a letter to the editor expressing an opinion on the article.
- Design & write an advert/poster advertising Carlos' services.
- Discuss different non-religious pilgrimages that they might like to make - visiting popular music stars homes & graves eg - Elvis & Graceland, travelling to Seattle to visit Kurt Cobain's house & grave, Paris for Jim Morrison's etc.. .


By Henrique Almeida

LISBON (Reuters) - Any Roman Catholics who have vowed to make the pilgrimage to Fatima in Portugal, which is famous for religious visions, but can't fulfill their promise, help is at hand -- rent-a-pilgrim.

For 2,500 euros ($3,169), Pilgrim Gil will make the journey in your place -- and send you a certificate stamped along the way to prove he walked your every step.

Carlos Gil, 42, who owns a small computer company, took up this medieval practice four years ago when he suddenly "felt an urge to walk to Fatima" and said charging each client was simply a way to keep doing what he loves.

"I make the trip to Fatima once or twice a year because it elevates my spirit," said Gil. "Sometimes the trip is so intense that I forget I'm doing it to fulfill my client's promises."

Like a true pilgrim, Gil begins his seven-day journey to Fatima on foot from his home in Cascais, a small town on the outskirts of Lisbon, about 160 kilometers from the shrine. It takes him another six days to walk back.

Fatima's claim to fame is the Sanctuary of Fatima, built after the Virgin Mary was reported to have appeared six times to three shepherd children on a hillside near the town in 1917.

One of the children, Lucia dos Santos, became a nun after having the visions and is said to have foretold the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II in May 1981. She died in 2005 while the other two children died in 1919 and 1920.

Pope John Paul later placed one of the bullets that nearly killed him in the crown of the statue of Fatima.

Ever year about 3.5 million visitors flock to the shrine to celebrate the Virgin's appearance -- and Gil goes in the place of some of would-be pilgrims although he would not say how many people he walks for each year.

"It is a romantic way for my clients to thank God for what they have, like buying a candle or a plaster statue of Fatima," he said.

To guarantee to his clients that he made the trip on foot, Gil has a system of handing his customers a certificate after every journey with various stamps from places along the way.

"That way they know I kept their promise," he said.

He insists he makes the trips because it makes him feel good and the money he charges is used to compensate for time-off from his company and expenses along the way.

"As long as I'm not making a profit, I don't see a problem in this," he said. "It doesn't matter if you can't make the trip yourself because you are I and I am you, if you know what I mean."

Those who wish to hire Pilgrim Gil can do so through his Web site, which is translated into three different languages and includes a credit card payment system. News&storyid=2006-11-01T143017Z_01_N31225815_RTRUKOC

From Carlos' site
Match the questions & the answers

1. What is a Payer of Promises?

2. Do you suffer a lot each time you cover the way?

3. Why should you pay a promise?

4. Those who have made a promise, are not making a sacrifice when paying back in money...

5. The Payer of Promises is only for Portugal?

6. How can you prove you have made the journey?

7. How can I pay?

8. How often do you go to Fátima?

9. What journey do you take?

10. What I take and carry with me?

11. Do you only redeem promises?

a. Of course they are.  Those who cannot pay their promises for one reason or another, and feel they owe such payment, by using their money are relinquishing of a value for which they had to work hard and which could provide them with other comodities rather than simply paying my time.... this is their Sacrifice!

b. I have a document, which I call CERTIFICATE.  It is a document stamped throughout the journey on behalf of the worshipper for whom I am paying the promise.  The stamps are either from local governmental organisations, church wardens or other local entities (local restaurants and shops if no other entities exist) and certifies of my passage through those locations on the stamped date.  The last stamp is that of the village of Fátima. It does not prove anything.  It is only worth what you consider it to be worth.... it is more than anything a memento of the payment of the promise.

c. Every time I have a reason to go or someone asks me to go.

d. No. It happens frequently to be asked by people who simply want to show their gratefulness for their lives’ gifts. It is a pure and simply way to show thankfulness, maybe recognition… simple recognition!

e. The journey is Lisbon  - Fátima but, as I live in Cascais, and a pilgrim should always start from home, my journey is Cascais – Fátima – always on foot.
CNC (Portuguese National Cultural Centre) has marked a walk, outside the main roads (the Tejo walk).  Congratulations to them as this is a beautiful walk and very well sign- posted.  During the way there are long stretches of countryside, ideal for reflexion and meditation.  This walk crosses small villages, used to receiving pilgrims.

f. It is a traditional figure, much loved in the Middle Ages to whom wealthy families would rely upon to cover, on their behalf, the Sacred Ways, make a wish or show their gratefulness.
As a Pilgrim and Payer of Promises I retake the Tradition.

g. It’s a question of faith.  Each one of us will have our own reasons.  It is a sense of owing something to the Divine.  When, sometimes in desperation, we promise something and receive in return the help needed to resolve our problems, we feel the need to redeem the promise made... to accept this is, above all, to show recognition.  It is the feeling of being grateful for the help received, for having obtained the answer to our prayers...

h. It’s a religious sacrifice (in the sense of relieving the land to the divine) and does not involve suffering at all. Sacrifice and suffering are completely different things.  My journey is one of meditation and introspection, of gratefulness and veneration, not of suffering.

i. This site has been created so that any  worshipper of Our Lady of Fátima can pay a promise.  This way, any worshipper in Brasil, Angola, Moçambique, Timor or any other country in the world can get in touch with me.

j. By credit card.  Payment is made through BMT Micro, Inc in a safe and practical way.  You can also pay by deposit or bank transfer.

k. I only take with me what I need for the next 2 hours, i.e. my own clothes, a small botle of water and,  most importantly, a “bordão” (the “bordão” helps me to walk and is a paternal symbol).
Extra weight carried is only for a sleeping-bag, raincoat, and one extra pair of socks and underwear.


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