What is “El Camino”?

El Camino de Santiago (de Compostela), otherwise known as The Way of St. James, is an ancient pilgrimage trail.  It is meant to follow the footsteps of the Apostle St. James, who made the journey himself with nothing more than the clothes on his back. He preached Christianity in Spain, and eventually was martyred for his actions. After being put to death in Judea, his body was miraculously transported back to Compostela, where he was (and still is) buried and revered.

Over a thousand years later, people from all over the world are still embarking on this pilgrimage.  The route was declared the first European Cultural Route by the Council of Europe in 1987; it was also named one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.   

There are several routes one can take on El Camino de Santiago. The most common route is known as “Camino Frances” and it begins in SJPP (France) before traversing the Pyernees into Spain.

In addition to people undertaking a religious pilgrimage, there are many travellers and hikers who walk the route for non-religious reasons: travel, sport, or simply the challenge of weeks of walking in a foreign land. Also, many consider the experience a spiritual adventure to remove themselves from the bustle of modern life. It acts as a retreat for many modern “pilgrims”.

The compostela is a certificate of accomplishment given to pilgrims on completing the Way. To earn the compostela one needs to walk a minimum of 100 km or cycle at least 200 km.  Pilgrims arriving in Santiago de Compostela who have walked at least the last 100 km, or cycled 200 km to get there (as indicated on their credencial), are eligible for the compostela from the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago.

The pilgrim passport is examined carefully for stamps and dates. If a key stamp is missing, or if the pilgrim does not claim a religious purpose for their pilgrimage, the compostela may be refused. The Pilgrim Office of Santiago awards more than 100,000 compostelas a year to pilgrims from over 100 countries.

A Pilgrim’s Mass is held in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compestela each day at noon for pilgrims. Pilgrims who received the compostela the day before have their countries of origin and the starting point of their pilgrimage announced at the Mass.

  1. Lisa Antley says:

    I am cheering you on from the sidelines! What a goal you have set for yourself. I wish you well on your journey……….and thank you so much for being a teacher. Eric is so fortunate to be in your classroom. What a model you are in life and in the classroom.

  2. Just wanted to thank you for this wonderful gift. Your presence on the Camino is an honor to many of us who are in and within the Camino. We have passed the article on on many of our websites and FB pages so do not be surprised if many will come and wish you a BUEN CAMINO!!… Do keep us posted that we may keep everyone updated on your progress.

    Ultreia et Suseia dear pilgrim….

  3. Linda Zimmerman says:




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