On the first day in Santiago after completing my pilgrimage, I got up in the dark as I did through most of my Camino. I wanted to get to the pilgrim office, Oficina de Acollida Ao Peregrino, by the 8:00 opening. When I arrived at 8:10, there was already a line. There, I got the final sellos (stamps) for my credenciale , and I was awarded the Compostela with my Latinized name, “Catherinem” (?), and a certificate (for 3€) telling how many kilometers I’d walked (799 km!).
I returned to my room to drop the Compostela, then went to have churros and chocolate and a terrible Cafe Americano at a cafe near my hotel.
After breakfast, I headed for the Cathedral, where I walked around the various chapels. I also walked up the stairs into the High Altar, where I hugged the statue of the Apostle St. James from behind and gave him thanks for my pilgrimage.
Out on Praza do Obradoiro, a group of protestors was making a racket by banging on metal pans and playing instruments in a cacophony of obnoxious sound. It seemed to go on forever. I never found out what they were protesting.
I ran into Greg and Sean going with Darina into the Cathedral rooftop tour, but I didn’t have a chance to talk much to them.
At 11:00, I went to the Cathedral to get a seat for the noon pilgrim mass. Darina arrived much later, after her rooftop tour, and sat in the back. I hadn’t had a seat for the German mass the day before, and I wanted to enjoy the experience from a different angle. This time I sat in the nave of the cathedral, looking directly at the altar. In the apse, the statue of St. James presided over the nave from on high. All through the mass, I could see heads popping through the opening as pilgrims and visitors hugged the Saint from behind. It was strangely disconcerting.
This time there was a youth choir and the priest mentioned peregrinos and where they were from, naming countries all over the world. They swung the Botafumeiro again at this mass, but we had a different view than we’d had the day before; we’d sat in the transept during the German mass. We only saw the huge incense burner as it went back and forth in front of the altar; it disappeared into the transept!
After the mass, I went to have some lunch at a cozy restaurant. I had a tinto verrano and asparagus omelet and bread. I browsed through a couple of shops and then went through the 14th century Casa Gótica, with its pilgrimage museum (museo das Peregrinaciónes).
The museum pointed out the dimensions of pilgrimage in both the real and imaginary worlds. The pilgrim embarks on a ritual journey in search of purification, perfection or salvation. Pilgrim, way, and shrine are all essential elements. There is a relationship between the earthly and the holy, the individual and the group, causing a transformation in the pilgrim. In essence, the pilgrimage is a request or a plea, a way of giving thanks for a gift received, a desire to improve position in the social and emotional realms, or to draw closer to God.
Displays showcased the three great Christian pilgrimages: to Jerusalem, to Rome, and to Santiago de Compostela. The latter became a center for pilgrimage after the discovery of the body of St. James the Great in the 9th century.
The places related to the life of Christ, his disciples and the first martyrs became centers of devotion and destinations for pilgrimage.
The term “pilgrimage” is also used allegorically to express the similarity between a journey to a holy place and human life itself. The physical effort necessary to reach the pilgrim’s goal is a metaphor for the human spiritual journey, full of sacrifices, renunciation and heartache. The objective is to reach the highest level of knowledge, spiritual renewal, glory, paradise or eternal salvation.
In the westernmost tip of Europe in the 820s, a tomb was discovered and identified as containing the body of St. James the Great (Santiago in Spanish). The stories about the life of the Saint have always been shrouded in a mixture of tradition and legend. There are questions as to whether Galicia and other parts of Spain were evangelized by St. James or St. Paul. The relics of martyrs were the most sacred of all objects for Christians. Thus, the discovery of the body of one of Christ’s closest disciples, and the first apostle to be martyred, was of enormous consequence to 9th century Christian communities.
Early pilgrims wore typical walking clothes. A cape that wasn’t too long, a cloak or pellegrina, a broad rimmed hat and strong shoes protected them from inclement weather and allowed them to walk comfortably. Later, the dress became standardized so pilgrims were easily identifiable. Often the outfit included a staff, a basket, a pouch, and a gourd to carry water or wine. Pilgrims often sewed to their clothes insignia from the shrines they’d visited (much like the sello in today’s credenciale), including the scallop shells typical of the Camino. Recently, colorful sportswear has revolutionized traditional walking gear and is now the preferred mode of dress.
From the beginning, the journey on foot was the main mode of transport. Using animals or a carriage was a privilege. Pilgrims organized into groups to keep from being vulnerable to wild animals, bandits and criminals. Today, pilgrimage is still most popular on foot, although bicycles are an increasingly popular alternative.
The Pilgrim’s Guide (Book V of the Codex Calixtinus) was an exceptional 12th century guide book offering information for pilgrims. Many pilgrim guides were written over the centuries.
The pilgrimage is full of rituals from beginning to end. The pilgrim prepares himself before leaving home. He may receive blessings and make a will. He may carry a stone as a form of penance, which he later throws onto a heap of stones. Completion of the pilgrimage could be verified in a document. From the 15th century on, pilgrims were given certificates known as “compostelas.”
Figures of St. James the pilgrim emerged in the 12th century, the product of a widespread cult related to the Camino. He is depicted most often with a staff and pouch, a gourd for liquids, a hat to protect him from the sun and rain, and a cape as a complement to his cloak. The scallop shell is what identifies him as a pilgrim. These depictions often aim to show the Saint’s human side.
After visiting the museum, I relaxed a bit in my room, then went on the rooftop tour of the Cathedral. We had a Spanish guide, so I couldn’t understand a word. Standing on the tilting rooftop was dizzying.
I went back to my room at PR Libredón to reorganize my pack so I could leave some stuff at the hotel until I returned from Muxia and Finisterre on Thursday. I threw out my rain poncho and hat because no rain was forecast.
Darina and I met for dinner. I had an empañada with tuna (too dry) and sauteed peppers, which were delicious. I washed my supper down with a beer and scarfed down some of Darina’s French fries. This would be the last time I would see Darina, and I felt heavyhearted about parting ways with my Camino friend. Our meal together seemed to have a sad note to it, as if we were emotionally exhausted by the whole experience, yet disappointed to have it come to an end.
On the way back to my room, I stopped to buy a Spanish-looking scarf, and then went to bed to rest and nurse my worsening cold.
The next several days, I would go by bus to Muxia and Finisterre, and then return to Santiago just in time for my 63rd birthday on Thursday.
- on journey: santiago to muxía
- on journey: muxía to finisterre
- a day in finisterre & return to santiago
*Sunday, October 21, 2018*
*9,077 steps, or 3.85 miles: Santiago de Compostela*
You can find everything I’ve written so far on the Camino de Santiago here:
On Sundays, I post about hikes or walks that I have taken in my travels; I may also post on other unrelated subjects. I will use these posts to participate in Jo’s Monday Walks or any other challenges that catch my fancy.
This post is in response to Jo’s Monday Walk: Cultured in Coimbra.
Ah, the sadness. What a wonderful achievement, however, you must be very proud. Thank you for sharing.
Thanks, Candy, for coming along. It was very sad to have the journey come to an end. It was one of the highlights of my life. 🙂
Well done for completing the walk….a definite achievement
Thank you, Sue. It’s all over now. I’m considering what kind of big journey to do in about two or three more years. Maybe the Via Francigena, France, or Wales coastline. Or maybe another Camino route, the Norte perhaps? 🙂
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Blimey! I envy your fitness!
Knowing about the special relationship with Darina, I could feel the sadness of your last dinner together. However, knowing that the two of you have maintained an ongoing friendship through WhatsApp and PolarSteps dampens the sadness of the last meal together. I am sure your paths will cross again.
You know how connected I felt to Darina, so it was bittersweet to part ways with her. I hope our paths will cross again!
Happy Birthday! when it was, when it will be. I really enjoy your descriptions and especially your impressions of the city, the cathedral, mass in the cathedral, and your last experiences, overall. Vicariously, this has been, and is, a wonderful experience to read about, look at, and thus to have.
Thanks for the belated birthday wishes, Christopher. My birthday was (and always is) October 25 🙂 , so after i went to Muxia and Finisterre, I landed back in Santiago right on my birthday. I met a dear friend and fellow pilgrim, Kate, for drinks at the parador before heading to Portugal on the 26th. Thank you so much for coming along on my pilgrimage; I’m so glad you enjoyed it. It means so much to me. Happy New Year!
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It looks a beautiful city, but that’s not really the point, is it? I’m sure, as Mike indicates, that you’ve made a lifelong friend in Darina. Finding someone you can really connect with is special, Cathy. 🙂 🙂 And one camino or distance walk does often seem to lead to another. God bless you and the family. I hope the year ahead is kind to you.
You’re right, Jo, it isn’t really the point about the beauty of the city, and I have to say I didn’t really explore much outside the cathedral. It has been so wonderful to be keeping in touch continually with Darina; she is always great at keeping in touch via WhatsApp and on Polarsteps. I hope to see her in 2021 when I hope to visit that part of the world. (She doesn’t know it yet!)
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Oh, and I wish you many joys over the holidays and in the coming year!
[…] A day in Santiago de Compostela […]
What an achievement to finally reach the end and how nice to be able to collect your certificate as a permanent reminder of all your hard work.
Thanks, Carol. Now I need to get my Compostela framed! 🙂
I had no idea what Compostela meant! I’ve learned a lot from this post.
Thanks, Anabel. So did I, as I was writing it! 🙂
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A great achievement and I wish you health and happiness in the coming years to follow your dreams. Did your knee problem completely clear up?
Thank you so much, Pauline. I wish you the same in the coming year: much health, happiness and prosperity. It is strange how my knee is now perfectly fine after all my struggles with it before the walk! 🙂
Nice to pause and enjoy the destination after all those miles of journey. I love the concept of pilgrimage (both real and metaphorical). Notice I said “concept”! Your outline of the meaning of pilgrimage was inspiration for thought as I brainstorm 2020 goals.
I do have a regret about your journey though. I’d love to see you in traditional pilgrim gear – they’re my favourite photos, the ones showing pilgrims garbed and ready.
I hope your Christmas was satisfactory in every way, and I’m looking forward to your 2020 adventures. May the year be generous to you.
I’d love to know about your 2020 goals, Meg! As for traditional pilgrim gear, do you mean the really traditional robes and staffs? I don’t think I ever saw anyone decked out like that. And there are many photos of me throughout the Camino wearing my hiking boots and hiking clothes with my hiking poles and backpack.
Our Christmas was very quiet but nice, as has been this week between Christmas and New Year. I always look forward to dreaming of the next year and upcoming adventures! I hope your new year is joyous and adventurous as well! 🙂
How lovely to meet someone with whom one connects so well. Forget the sadness of partying and think of it as a present you’ve been given which will be with you now that you are back home. What a journey you’ve taken us on and how lovely it was.
Thank you so much, Mari. I was so happy to meet Darina, and I have been in touch with her throughout all of this past year. I really hope to visit her in Slovakia in 2021, although I haven’t yet mentioned it to her. Or maybe someday we’ll travel together. She has such a warm and wonderful spirit that she radiates wherever she goes. 🙂
For some reason I thought about your Preparations and Anticipation blogs tonight and I wrote one
but for the life of me I cannot find where to link it to on your site. I found one from 2018 so perhaps you’ve closed this particular strand? No matter, it gave me the push I needed to write something, link herewith.
Hi Mari, Here is my last anticipation and preparation post: https://wanderessence.com/2019/12/27/anticipation-preparation-singapore-thailand-in-2008/
When I click on the link you put in your comment, it takes me to a new post on my own blog. Is this a published post, or is this link to your new post page before publishing? I also can’t find any anticipation and preparation post directly on your blog. You know that when you make comments, if I click on your name it takes me to a blog that isn’t in existence, not the one you write on: https://travels-with-my-camera.blog/ The link associated with your name is maritraveldotnet.wordpress.com (??). A bit confusing. 🙂
I’d love to link your anticipation & preparation post to my next one, if only I can find it! Feel free to attach the link for the published post. 🙂
Sometimes I feel I should give all this up as I seem to be forever in a state of confusion with WP. My fault this time as I clicked on Schedule instead of Publish (now, does that make sense to you? It doesn’t to me) but I’ve now corrected it. The URL is https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/travels-with-my-camera.blog/12611 so I hope you find it this time.
The confusion with my name and site is beyond me. My email address with WP has been screwed up completely a) because I had two accounts open when I thought I only had one, and b) they couldn’t keep my email address unless I changed it completely or added another maristravels to it so it’s a long weird address.
The link still doesn’t work, Mari. It will only work properly once the post is actually published. Oh! Now I just looked directly at your blog and see that your post is published: This is the proper link: https://travels-with-my-camera.blog/2019/12/31/thailand-anticipation-and-preparations/
You can see it is different than the link you sent me.
I’ll be happy to link this to my next anticipation and preparation post which won’t be until January 24. I have it set aside to read this evening or tomorrow. Thanks so much for sharing.
How frustrating about your email address with WordPress. Oh well, some things will always be a challenge! At least I know where to find you nowadays. I could never find you before. 🙂
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