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It is possible to sleep out in the desert, in tents or in caves, and the discovery of graffiti bearing women’s names on a cliff face in the Judean Desert suggests that this might have been where female pilgrims camped.Potential Solutions Let us now turn to examine some of the solutions for accommodating female pilgrims described in the sources.This could be especially problematic at pilgrimage sites that formed around a holy man during his lifetime or after his death, where the structure of the monastic regimen predated the popular appeal of the site.There are numerous examples of this in the hagiographies.For example, women were forbidden from entering the enclosure where St Simeon the Elder Stylite lived atop his column. This obstacle of access could persist even after a saint’s death if his shrine lay within the confines of the monastery.
(I do not see what she will gain from such a long walk over such a laborious route; whereas, with the help of the Lord I could easily demonstrate the damage she and those with her will suffer…I wonder how, travelling over those distances, they can avoid drinking the water of Gihon, either in their thoughts or in their deeds. 277) While it is important not to decontextualize these arguments from their original debates (for more on this, see Bitton-Ashkelony, 2005, esp. 279-83), it is interesting that both authors focus on the difficulty of the journey itself as the main detriment in travelling for alleged spiritual benefit.For the most part they are contingent on the pilgrim’s own status, whether members of the religious life, members of the aristocratic class, etc.It appears that the greatest flexibility and access was granted to fellow adherents of the religious life.This paradox was especially pronounced along gender lines.Women were customarily forbidden entry to male monasteries, and vice versa.