Sunday, 15 March 2009

Historical background

I have become so involved with all things Camino-related over the last few months that I tend to assume most people know all about it. For those who don´t, here are a few facts.

For over 1000 years pilgrims have been making their way across Spain to the city of Santiago, to visit the shrine of St James in the cathedral. This pilgrimage is called the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, or in English the Way of St James. St James was one of the twelve apostles and brother of John. Sant Iago (Santiago) means St James, and he is supposed to be buried in the cathedral.

The custom of making this pilgrimage nearly died out, but has revived over the last 20-30 years to the extent that it is now extremely popular. There are several official routes, amongst them the Camino Frances which I am doing. During 2008 nearly 100,000 pilgrims walked the Camino Frances, and next year, a Holy Year, the numbers are expected to be much higher.

The traditional symbol of the pilgrim is a shell, a scallop shell, often carried on a staff or attached to the rucksack. Some people look on the pilgrimage as a religious experience, others may be seeking enlightenment or a physical challenge. Your religious beliefs or motive are very personal and everyone has their own reason for doing their Camino, you don´t have to be of any particular faith.

I am not sure why I am doing mine. All I know is that there is something drawing me very strongly towards my Camino and I am very excited about the whole thing.

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