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  • Writer's pictureGrace Episcopal Church

Learning More About the Camino

by Eleanor Simons

I have been watching the videos Fr. Jonathan is sending from the Grace pilgrimage group walking on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. I decided I wanted to learn a little more about the Camino and started reading on the internet. I found out there is a lot of information and many videos on YouTube.

In English it is called The Way of Saint James. The cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is said to have the remains of the apostle James, carried there by boat from Jerusalem. The first shrine was destroyed in 997 and in the 12th century a massive cathedral was built.

In the 9th century, as more and more pilgrims traveled there, it became a major pilgrimage route for many Christians. In 1492 the Pope named it one of the “great pilgrimages of Christendom.” It remained popular during the middle ages. With wars and revolutions beginning in the 16th century the number of pilgrims making the journey decreased. After the World Wars and the Spanish Civil War many routes began to see travelers again. Since 2019 the number of pilgrims has grown to more than 350,000 each year. They come from all over Europe and across the world. This year our Grace group of 15 adds to the numbers.

Most pilgrims carry a document called the “credencial.” It is also known as a “pilgrim’s passport.” Each night it is stamped with the official St. James stamp of each town at the inn or hotel where the pilgrims stay. It serves as a record of their journey. When presented at the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago it qualifies them to receive an official certificate of completion of their journey. More than 100,000 certificates are given out each year to pilgrims from more than 100 countries.

Reading about the Camino, watching a few videos on YouTube, and looking at the website of the Cathedral gave me a feel for our group and what they will be experiencing. Be sure to look at the People of Grace on Facebook as we hear from our members and keep them in your prayers.

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