On top of Hörnleberg is a famous pilgrimage church. Pilgrimages were first made to sites connected with the life, birth and crucifixion of Jesus, afterwards, like in Hörnleberg's case, to places where there have been alleged apparitions of the Virgin Mary. In Summer, on Sundays, many pilgrims undertake a religious pilgrimage visiting Hörnleberg, a place of religious significance, and attending the mass.
Pilgrimage originated in Greece, where a stream of individuals made their way to Delphi or every four years, at the period of the Olympic games, to the temple of Zeus at Olympia. When Alexander the Great reached Egypt, he put his travel on hold, while he made his way with a small band deep into the Libyan desert, to consult the oracle of Ammun.
In the Middle Ages, even as early as the 4th century, pilgrimage was regarded as a sacred obligation and a trial of one's faith, since travel was dangerous, expensive and time-consuming. A returning pilgrim was called a palmer, as they would wear two crossed palm leaves to show they had made the pilgrimage.
Pilgrims contributed an important element to long-distance trade before the modern era, and brought prosperity to successful pilgrimage sites, an economic phenomenon unequalled until the tourist trade of the 20th century. Encouraging pilgrims was a motivation for assembling relics and for writing hagiographies of local saints, filled with inspiring accounts of miracle cures.
Over the centuries the terms 'pilgrim' and 'pilgrimage' have come to have a somewhat devalued meaning, and are nowadays often applied in a secular context. Most families walking up to Hörnleberg would not consider it as Pilgrimage anymore, but more of a walking exercise.