why do pilgrims go to santiago de compostela

Cathedral of St. James in Santiago de Compostela (Lori Erickson photo)
Perhaps no where on earth is the power of pilgrimage more evident than in the city of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. В After more than a thousand years, the Camino de Santiagoвthe Way of St. Jamesвcontinues to inspire Christians from around the world. In the middle of a large public square in the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela lies a paving stone engraved with the image of a shell and these simple words:В Camino de Santiago. For hundreds of years pilgrims have stood on this spot, gazing at the imposing, twelfth-century cathedral that rises before them. Those who gather here are often footsore and weary after weeks of journeying across plains and mountains. Many have made this journey to deepen their faith or fulfill a vow, others to perform a penance, and some out of a sense of adventure. All end their wanderings here, before the church where the remains of the apostle St. James (Santiago in Spanish) are said to lie. After more than a thousand years, the Camino de Santiagoвthe Way of St. Jamesвcontinues to inspire Christians from around the world. In an era in which itвs easy to step onto a plane and be deposited nearly anywhere in the world, the Way of St. James is a reminder of the power of pilgrimages taken slowly and deliberately. The path to Santiago de Compostela is meant to be walked, for the journey is as important as actually standing at the crypt of the apostle. Once all pilgrimages were like this, journeys that took weeks or months of hard travel. But of the three most famous Christian pilgrimagesвto Jerusalem, Rome, and Santiago de Compostelaвonly the Way of St. James has remained a route that many pilgrims take on foot.


Galicia, Spain (Lori Erickson photo) Even if one canвt make the long journey to Santiago de Compostela, I believe all pilgrims can learn from the Way of St. James. Its most important lesson is that a pilgrimage is as much about the journey as it is about arriving at the destination. Though it is deeply meaningful to stand in the cathedral in Santiago, time spent en route to the shrine is the more important part of the pilgrimage. The Way of St. James, then, includes far more than the relics that lie at the end of the route. It is a thousand memorable sites along the way, in tiny villages with centuries-old stone cottages, by the side of sacred springs gushing from deep within the earth, down well-worn footpaths that wind through dark forests, and in magnificent monasteries built to house the endless stream of pilgrims who traveled along the routes that converge on Santiago. Information from the. Share This! You have to be fairly motivated to walk the from to Santiago de Compostela in North West Spain Б as it is 800km. б Usually 800km with your rucksack on your back containing everything you need for a month. б , communal showers, and no privacy. To many this does not sound like a holiday or a good use of their precious time, however, more than 100,000 people walk one of the each year Б and the numbers keep growing. б , come from all over the world and put themselves through physical hardship, subjecting their body to the rigors of walking between 25 and 30km a day Б day after day. б It really is quite a feat in our modern convenience orientated life. So why walk the Camino de Santiago? This appears to be the main reason for most. б Many of us have reached a point in б life where we need time to think, time to get away from life as it is. б Many times I asked pilgrims why they were on the Camino and the simple answer was just getting away from everything.


And on the Camino you do. б The pace of life is slower, you are not subjected to advertising, and social media and the internet seems like another world. б Imagine for a month not being in a taxi, a car, bus or any other mode of transport Б only walking. б You donБt have TV, ubiquitous email, and mobile phones. There seems to be little that compares with walking for a month. б People come out the other end often wanting to make changes to their own life, and having a sense of being refreshed Б being washed clean of the. I went more than a month, twice, without my daily morning check of email and news sites, something I find almost impossible at home and this does not cover the. And it is. б The real problem is not walking 25 or 30km, it is doing this day after day. б You discover if your, if they donБt you learn very quickly how to repair the blisters on your feet. Apart from looking after your feet, the main challenge is to have your. б The first time I walked the Camino my rucksack was 13kg at the start in St Jean; far too heavy. б The next time I had the weight down to 6kg; walking was much easier and I was happier. б Sometimes there are no washing machines, so you hand wash the clothes you wore for walking I haven t ever hand-washed clothes at home. If you manage to just walk in the day and not think about all the days ahead, walk at your own pace, do your own Camino Б there can be a tremendous sense of accomplishment at the end. б However, there can also be an anti-climax. б What next, is often a common thought? б What,б no more walking?


I felt a bit lost not walking-б I was so used to walking all day every day. Yes, people walk the Camino de Santiago for religious reasons. б There are Бholy yearsБ on the Camino where the feast day of falls on a Sunday. б During a holy year, the door of Forgiveness inб б is opened. During a Holy Year, all pilgrims can have a plenaryб indulgence for the forgiveness of sins this is dependant on certain conditions. The next holy year is not until 2021, however, 2016 has been declared the Holy Year of Mercy. During the previous Holy Years,б the number of pilgrims on the route increases dramatically expect the same this year. In the PilgrimБs office in Santiago, you can request a Compostela if you meet certain requirements walk the last 100km or cycle the last 200km. The Compostela is a Latin document that states you have walked at least the last 100km or cycled at least the last 200km for religious or spiritual reasons to Santiago. б There is a different certificate for those that do not fall into these categories; this is a certificate of achievement for finishing the walk. Most people religious or not ask for the Compostela Б it appears personal spirituality is alive and well along the Camino No matter your reasons for taking on the challenge of the Camino, most people thoroughly enjoy their Camino experience. б I talked to almost strangers about subject matters that I wouldn t discuss normally; others pilgrims were the same. б Friendships build as you find yourself walking at the same pace as others; groups form that end up calling themselves a Camino family. б For me, I was especially lucky.

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