Pilgrimage is an Irish medieval thriller film. The film premiered on 23 April 2017 at the Tribeca Film Festival in its “Viewpoints” section. It was scheduled for general release (screen / VOD / streaming) on 11 August 2017.
A group of monks in medieval Ireland guard a precious religious relic at their rural monastery. Frère Geraldus, a French Cistercian monk, arrives with a charter from Pope Innocent III, commanding the monks to undertake a pilgrimage to transport their monastery’s holiest relic to Rome under Geraldus. The monks reluctantly agree, as legend tells that the relic’s holy power will destroy any not pure-hearted enough to possess it. A handful of monks set out, including multilingual Brother Ciarán and novice Brother Diarmuid, accompanied by a mute laborer. As the group is caught in a rainstorm, the golden reliquary is struck by lightning but shows no damage, further reinforcing the notion of its mystical power.
Ireland, at the time reeling under successive Norman invasions, is a dangerous place; in fear of Celtic warriors, Geraldus leads several monks to a French encampment led by Baron de Merville, who believes that assisting the pilgrims will enable his forgiveness for atrocities committed as a crusader in service of the Church. The monks are disgusted by the violent nature of the soldiers, especially the Baron’s son Raymond de Merville, despite Geraldus’ claim of their protection being a necessary evil. It is revealed that the reliquary contains not the remains of the apostle Saint Matthias but rather the stone used to martyr him, and that the Pope believes its tremendous power will benefit an upcoming crusade.
A larger caravan of armed men, led by Raymond, sets out escorting the monks to the boat that awaits them in Waterford. Raymond, speaking French, tells the mute laborer that some of his men recognize the Mute as a former crusader but not from where; only Brother Ciarán speaks French, and the rest of the monks are left in the dark. En route, the caravan finds that a necessary bridge has been burned and its guards slaughtered, and Raymond takes most of the soldiers with him to give chase, leaving the monks with a token guard. The monks continue but are quickly ambushed by a group of Celtic warriors, who quickly slaughter the soldiers and several monks. The Mute dives to protect the young Brother Diarmuid but is stunned by a rock from a sling. As the Celts make off with the cart bearing the reliquary, the Mute regains his composure, grabs a sword from a fallen soldier, and quickly kills several of the Celts followed by their chieftan; the rest scatter in fear. The two surviving monks, Diarmuid and the timid Cathal, are astonished until Geraldus claims the Mute’s fierce actions as holy wrath on the Celts for desecrating the reliquary. They choose to follow after the stolen reliquary, as it is too dangerous to wait for rescue by Raymond’s troops.