Thursday, July 29, 2010

Los peregrinos

I mentioned in yesterday's post that I would share about the pilgrims we encountered in our travels.

We saw many the day we visited Santiago de Compostela, all making their way to the final destination--the cathedral built as a shrine to James the Apostle, said to be buried there.

The pilgrims come from around the world for different reasons. The report says: 55% for religious reasons; 5% cultural, and 40% both. Some want time to think and reflect, others seek adventure. 

They carry their gear, a walking stick, and the symbolic scallop shell.

They come on foot, on horseback, on bicycles. If the walkers (Caminantes)100 kilometers (200 km for the bikers or horse riders) and can prove it by getting their passport-of-sorts stamped along the way, when they arrive at their final destination, the Cathedral of St. James, they are awarded the compostela, the document that certifies the completion of the Way for devotionis affectu, voti vel pietatis causa--for devotion, to fulfill a promise, or for piety.

This older man had been walking two months all the way from middle or northern France. He was asking  Alberto about lodging for the night, if there were pilgrim-hostels nearby or whether he could just camp out at a farm house. Our host assured him (in French) that people would be very helpful.

I first saw the old man kneeling in a small chapel on the marked route.

When we first met this lady in the circle of friends, she had just returned from walking the Camino with a friend for eleven days. The aspect they enjoyed the most was the community feel, sharing with the people they met along the way. She had funny stories to tell of enduring terrible snorers, osos (bears) they called them.

We saw a good many more pilgrims, some fellow passengers on the flights coming back. And since then I keep hearing of others who have experienced the Camino or want to in their life time.

My favorite story, written by a woman from Wisconsin, tells what she did and why. She ran and prayed.

Nearly one thousand years ago, Pope Alexander III declared that during a year of jubilee or holy year, i.e. when the day of St. James (July 25th) falls on a Sunday, the faithful could have all their sins forgiven.
I am grateful that long before that, Jesus Christ took the punishment for my sins on the cross so that I could have my sins forgiven and have eternal life!

P.S.:  Our girl Amaia arrived safely as of last night very late.


sara said...

this is so interesting. I had never heard of it. You had some wonderful experiences on your trip!!

Kim said...

I agree with Sara, this is so interesting!

Ivan said...

I'm so enjoying these posts. Helps me know how to pray for your team.
Do you know the significance of the flag on the older gentleman's pack?

rita said...

Great question, Ivan. I will have to find out.