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Pilgrims walked the Way of St. James, often for months and occasionally years at a time, to arrive at the great church in the main square of Compostela and pay homage to St. Many arrived with very little due to illness or robbery or both. Traditionally pilgrims lay their hands on the pillar just inside the doorway of the cathedral, and so many now have done this it has visibly worn away the stone.

According to a common medieval legend, the Milky Way was formed from the dust raised by travelling pilgrims. Subsequently the location was called "the field of the star" Campus Stellae , corrupted to "Compostela". The Church employed a system of rituals, known as penance , to atone for temporal punishment due to sins.

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According to this system, pilgrimages were a suitable form of expiation for some temporal punishment, and they could be used as acts of penance for those who were guilty of certain crimes. As noted in the Catholic Encyclopedia : [23]. In the registers of the Inquisition at Carcassone James at Compostella [sic], St.

Thomas' body at Canterbury, and the relics of the Three Kings at Cologne.

The Field of Stars

There is still a tradition in Flanders of pardoning and releasing one prisoner every year [24] under the condition that, accompanied by a guard, the prisoner walks to Santiago wearing a heavy backpack. During the war of American Independence, John Adams who would become the second American president was ordered by Congress to go to Paris to obtain funds for the cause. His ship started leaking and he disembarked with his two sons at Finisterre in From there he proceeded to follow the Way of St. James in the reverse direction of the pilgrims' route, in order to get to Paris overland.

He did not stop to visit Santiago, which he later came to regret. In his autobiography, Adams described the customs and lodgings afforded to St. James's pilgrims in the 18th century and he recounted the legend as he learned it: [25]. I have always regretted that We could not find time to make a Pilgrimage to Saintiago de Compostella. We were informed Iago was this. A certain Shepherd saw a bright Light there in the night. Afterwards it was revealed to an Archbishop that St. James was buried there. In the time of the Moors, the People made a Vow, that if the Moors should be driven from this Country, they would give a certain portion of the Income of their Lands to Saint James.

The Moors were defeated and expelled and it was reported and believed, that Saint James was in the Battle and fought with a drawn Sword at the head of the Spanish Troops, on Horseback. The People, believing that they owed the Victory to the Saint, very cheerfully fulfilled their Vows by paying the Tribute. Upon the Supposition that this is the place of the Sepulchre of Saint James, there are great numbers of Pilgrims, who visit it, every Year, from France, Spain, Italy and other parts of Europe, many of them on foot. Although it is commonly believed that the pilgrimage to Santiago has continued without interruption since the Middle Ages, few modern pilgrimages antedate the publication of Irish Hispanist and traveler Walter Starkie 's The Road to Santiago.

Since then, hundreds of thousands over , in [28] of Christian pilgrims and many others set out each year from their homes, or from popular starting points across Europe, to make their way to Santiago de Compostela. Most travel by foot, some by bicycle, and some even travel as their medieval counterparts did, on horseback or by donkey for example, the British author and humorist Tim Moore. In addition to those undertaking a religious pilgrimage, many are hikers who walk the route for travel or sport.


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Also, many consider the experience a spiritual retreat from modern life. Here only a few routes are named. For a complete list of all the routes traditional and less so , see: Camino de Santiago route descriptions. Most Spanish consider the French border in the Pyrenees the natural starting point. The Camino Primitivo , or Original Way , is the oldest route to Santiago de Compostela, first taken in the 9th century and which begins in Oviedo. It is a less popular route because of its changes in elevation, whereas the Camino Frances is mostly flat. The route follows the coast along the Bay of Biscay until it nears Santiago.

Though it does not pass through as many historic points of interest as the Camino Frances, it has cooler summer weather. The route is believed to have been first used by pilgrims to avoid traveling through the territories occupied by the Muslims in the Middle Ages. In Spain, France, and Portugal, pilgrim's hostels with beds in dormitories provide overnight accommodation for pilgrims who hold a credencial see below.

Hostels may be run by a local parish, the local council, private owners, or pilgrims' associations. Occasionally, these refugios are located in monasteries, such as the one run by monks in Samos, Spain , and the one in Santiago de Compostela. It was originally constructed by Ferdinand and Isabel, the Catholic Monarchs. Today it is a luxury 5-star Parador hotel, which still provides free services to a limited number of pilgrims daily. Most pilgrims purchase and carry a document called the credencial , which gives access to overnight accommodation along the route.

Also known as the "pilgrim's passport", the credencial is stamped with the official St. James stamp of each town or refugio at which the pilgrim has stayed.


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  • It provides pilgrims with a record of where they ate or slept and serves as proof to the Pilgrim's Office in Santiago that the journey was accomplished according to an official route and thus that the pilgrim qualifies to receive a compostela certificate of completion of the pilgrimage. The compostela is a certificate of accomplishment given to pilgrims on completing the Way.

    In practice, for walkers, the closest convenient point to start is Sarria , as it has good bus and rail connections to other places in Spain. The compostela has been indulgenced since the Early Middle Ages and remains so to this day, during Holy Years. Hoc sacratissimum Templum pietatis causa devote visitasse. In quorum fidem praesentes litteras, sigillo ejusdem Sanctae Ecclesiae munitas, ei confero.

    Pilgrimage

    Datum Compostellae die day mensis month anno Dei year. The CHAPTER of this holy apostolic and metropolitan Church of Compostela, guardian of the seal of the Altar of the blessed Apostle James, in order that it may provide authentic certificates of visitation to all the faithful and to pilgrims from all over the earth who come with devout affection or for the sake of a vow to the shrine of our Apostle St. James, the patron and protector of Spain, hereby makes known to each and all who shall inspect this present document that [Name].

    As a faithful witness of these things I confer upon him [or her] the present document, authenticated by the seal of the same Holy Church. James the Greater; and wishes that the holy Apostle may grant you, in abundance, the graces of the Pilgrimage.

    History of the Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela - Spiritual Travels

    The Pilgrim's Office gives more than , compostelas each year to pilgrims from more than different countries. However, the requirements to earn a compostela ensure that not everyone who walks on the Camino receives one. The Botafumeiro , one of the largest censers in the world, is operated during certain Solemnities and on every Friday, except Good Friday , at In the Holy Year of the Pilgrim's Mass was exceptionally held four times a day, at , , , and , catering for the greater number of pilgrims arriving in the Holy Year.

    Following Galicia's investment and advertising campaign for the Holy Year of , the number of pilgrims completing the route has been steadily rising. The next Holy Year will occur in , 11 years after the last Holy Year of More than , pilgrims made the trip during the course of From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the documentary, see El camino de Santiago film. Pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. See also: Shell of Saint James and Pilgrim's hat. The pilgrim route is a very good thing, but it is narrow.

    For the road which leads us to life is narrow; on the other hand, the road which leads to death is broad and spacious. The pilgrim route is for those who are good: it is the lack of vices, the thwarting of the body, the increase of virtues, pardon for sins, sorrow for the penitent, the road of the righteous, love of the saints, faith in the resurrection and the reward of the blessed, a separation from hell, the protection of the heavens. It takes us away from luscious foods, it makes gluttonous fatness vanish, it restrains voluptuousness, constrains the appetites of the flesh which attack the fortress of the soul, cleanses the spirit, leads us to contemplation, humbles the haughty, raises up the lowly, loves poverty.

    It hates the reproach of those fuelled by greed. It loves, on the other hand, the person who gives to the poor. It rewards those who live simply and do good works; And, on the other hand, it does not pluck those who are stingy and wicked from the claws of sin. Pilgrims finishing the Camino Since — present.

    Santiago de Compostela

    The Roads to Santiago: Pilgrims of St. University of California Press. In Herbermann, Charles ed. Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. This entry on indulgences suggests that the evolution of the doctrine came to include pilgrimage to shrines as a trend that developed from the 8th century A. Albans in England or at Compostela in Spain. But the most important place of pilgrimage was Rome. According to Bede — the visitatio liminum , or visit to the tomb of the Apostles, was even then regarded as a good work of great efficacy Hist.

    At first the pilgrims came simply to venerate the relics of the Apostles and martyrs , but in course of time their chief purpose was to gain the indulgences granted by the pope and attached especially to the Stations. Archived from the original on 16 September Retrieved 6 March Telegraph Online. Government of Navarre.

    Retrieved 21 October Navarre Tourist Board. The Staff and the Escallop shell were the badge of the pilgrim, and hence it is but natural it should find its way into the shields of those who had visited the Holy Land. The Furrow. Archived from the original on 1 March Walking the Camino de Santiago. Then I tore the ligaments in my left knee.

    I got tendinitis and my feet swelled up so large I had to buy new shoes. Each day I taped my feet with "duct tape". Many people don't finish the Camino. Psychologically I felt overwhelmed and a failure.