Each year, millions of people from different faiths make religious journeys. They travel far, to Mecca, Jerusalem, the Ganges River or Lourdes, France, to walk the paths of prophets, saints and martyrs.
"Pilgrimage is something built into the human condition," says George Weigel, author of Roman Pilgrimage: The Station Churches. "There seems to be something hardwired into us, spiritually, that the idea of a journey from A to B becomes part of the rhythm of the spiritual life."
Once again, French television screens are full of images of joyous Africans welcoming French troops.
In January, the French military intervened in Mali to help liberate large swaths of the country from radical jihadists. Now, for the second time this year, France has sent troops into an African country to quell violence.
Last week, French soldiers went into the Central African Republic to stop sectarian killings. In news reports from the Central African Republic, crowds yell, "Vive la France!" as they run out to greet convoys of French soldiers.
As we near the end of 2013, NPR is taking a look at the numbers that tell the story of this year. Numbers that, if you really understand them, give insight into the world we're living in, right now. Over the next two weeks, you'll hear the stories behind numbers, ranging from zero to 1 trillion.
The lowest number of polio cases ever recorded in the world during one year was 223. And 2013 was on track for an even lower number.