Peace Pilgrim

Average: 3.7 (3 votes)
Fast Facts
Other Names and Nicknames: 
Mildred Ryder, Mildred Lisette Norman, neé Mildred Lisette Norman
Spiritual Teacher
Main Countries of Activity: 
United States, Canada, Mexico
Date of Birth: 
Place of Birth: 
Egg Harbor City, New Jersey, United States
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
Date Left His/Her Body: 


Peace Pilgrim (neé Mildred Lisette Norman) was born in 1908 on a small farm in Egg Harbor City, New Jersey. As a child she spent a great deal of time playing alone in the spacious woods around her home. Here she developed a love of nature that would remain constant throughout her life.

As a child she received no formal religious training (she later said that it would be less that she would have to undo mentally later on). As a senior in high school she began to feel a curiosity about God. She would often inquire about God and introspect deeply on the matter. She learned from her careful and thoughtful observations of the ever-changing world around her that there is some sustaining power in the universe that motivates these constant changes.

Throughout the 1940's Peace Pilgrim (then Mildred Ryder) searched ceaselessly for her calling in life. She volunteered in peace organizations such the Quaker American Friends Service Committee. During this time she became a vegetarian and committed herself to eliminating unnecessary possessions and activities. She would later describe this as a period of struggle between her "lower, self-centered nature" and the "higher, God-centered nature".

In 1952, she became the first woman to hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trial in a single season. At the end of her journey she had a powerful transformative experience, wherein she attained full inner peace and came to understand her calling according to the Divine Will. She received a vision of herself as a pilgrim, walking from city to city in the name of spreading peace.

On January 1, 1953 she adopted the name Peace Pilgrim and set forth from Pasadena, CA to cross the country on foot. She wore a blue tunic which said in bold lettering across the back "Walking 10,000 Miles for World Disarmament". She was 44 years old when her pilgrimage began.

She continued to walk for the next 28 years, crossing the country seven times as well as making trips to Canada, Mexico, Hawaii and Alaska. Her original tunic was eventually replaced with one which read "25,000 Miles on Foot for Peace". She stopped counting in 1964, having reached her goal of walking 25,000 miles.

During her pilgrimage, Peace Pilgrim carried no money and refused to solicit anyone or even ask for food or shelter. Rather she spoke her message of peace openly with those who approached her and graciously accepted whatever hospitality was offered to her. She taught that people are inherently good and that the fundamental problem in the world is a lack of maturity. She strongly believed that war and destruction would be impossible in a mature society. She addressed the issue of peace from all sides but taught that the most crucial was the ever-important inner peace that can only be realized by living in accordance with the higher laws that govern the whole of existence. By the end of her pilgrimage she had been a guest on every major TV and radio station in the country and had been often invited to speak before college students and religious congregations.

Peace Pilgrim died on July 7, 1981 just outside Knox, Indiana when the car she was riding in was struck head-on. Though she rarely accepted rides, she allowed herself to be driven so that she would be able to make a speaking arrangement on time. Peace Pilgrim described death as a "glorious transition to a freer life".

Peace Pilgrim: Her Life and Work in Her Own Words,


“The way of peace is the way of love. Love is the greatest power on earth. It conquers all things.”

“You are within God. God is within you.”

"If we but knew how short is the earth life in comparison with the whole, we would be less troubled with the difficulties of the earth life than we are troubled now with the difficulties of one of our days."

"Evil cannot be overcome by more evil. Evil con only be overcome by good. It is the lesson of the way of love. The contest in the world today is between the old way of attempting to overcome evil with evil, which with modern weapons would lead to complete chaos, and the way of overcoming evil with good, which would lead to a glorious and mature life."

"This is the way of peace: Overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love."


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Cover image

Peace Pilgrim: Her Life and Work in Her Own Words

by Peace Pilgrim


Peace Pilgrim walked and spoke continuously across America from 1953 until her death in 1981. "Walking until given shelter and fasting until given food," she carried a simple yet powerfully enduring message of peace. A few of her friends later gathered her writings and talks into this first-person account of her experiences and beliefs. Peace Pilgrim has become a spiritual classic, with over half a million copies in print in nine languages. Includes news clippings, questions and answers, photographs, index.

Pro Opinions

A Great Saint

kevananda's picture

Peace Pilgrim's life is a fascinating testament to the strength of her communion with the divine. It is a shame that she is so overlooked as she is one of very few great saints to come from America.