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A TRAVELER'S HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
A few months ago we were sent extracts from this new book which was being hailed as a rival to David Gitlitz and Linda Davidon's book. The first few pages were so filled with inaccurate information that I thought it was a practical joke!

Firstly, the author suggests that people driving in rental cars ".... may wish to put up overnight in Burguete, just below Roncesvalles, convenient so that you may attend the pilgrims' early morning Mass at the Royal Collegiate Church and obtain both your passport and the priest's blessing as you embark upon your journey."

He goes on to suggest that, "As for the hundred kilometers afoot, the walks we describe following the Way through the towns, villages and cities along the Camino qualify for much of it. Keep notes on the kilometers you walk and where, add selected walks such as from the pass down to Roncesvalles where you begin the pilgrimage in the Pyrenees, or from the Mount of Joy to the cathedral of Santiago at the end. Those notes, plus your stamped pilgrim's "passport," will be proof enough for the churchmen ."

And then when they get to Santiago, "Finally, at Santiago de Compostela, with the last stamp in place, the Cathedral Secretariat awards the badge of the cockle shell (most call it a scallop shell) and the certificate- the Compostellana -that announce to one and all the pilgrim's achievement of special favor in the eyes of St. James."

His advice on resources is, "For pilgrims, the best current practical information may be obtained by contacting the Asociacion de Amigos de los Caminos, Calle Carretas 14, 28012 Madrid, Spain. Should you desire to walk or go by horseback or trail bike along the ancient pilgrimage trail, there is but a single source that provides anything like reliable instructions. It is The Pilgrim Route to Compostela, written originally by Abbé Georgés Bernés for the Editiones Randonnés Pyrénéennes."

I don't know all the guide books that are out there but I have never heard of that one. No mention of the CSJ, American Pilgrims, Canadian pilgrims: No Brierley or Alison Raju or CSJ guides.

Reading those few pages made me think that if his research on practical pilgrimage is so lacking, what would the rest of the book be like?
 
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Georges Bernès (the correct spelling), abbé in the village of Tillac near Auch, wrote the first modern French Guide du Pèlerin, published in 1973 and supported by what was then the Comité Gascon d'Etudes Compostellanes. A later edition was published by what was then Randonnées Pyrénéennes, now Rando Editions, part of the Sud-Ouest group. The 2nd edn of this, from 1989, was translated into English and published by Robertson McCarta in 1990 as The Pilgrim Route to Compostela: In search of St James. It's been out of print for years - in fact, RM went out of business some 15 or so years ago. The English guide was remaindered and I picked up a copy in a local bookshop for the princely sum of £1. In it, the author writes: "When I published the first edition, I was convinced that the pilgrimage to Santiago was about to flourish once more. Indeed, every year hundreds of pilgrims undertake this great walk on foot, and their numbers are increasing."

When I was first trying to gather info on the Camino in the 1980s, there only were 2 practical guides, this one and the Everest one based on Don Elias's original. Neither was easy to obtain, and eventually I sent the Abbé Bernès a blank cheque and asked him to send me a copy. I had a very nice letter back wishing me 'bon courage'. Ah, yes, the good old days.

If this really is a new book, I don't think the author is very up-to-date :roll:
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
I think the author read Mrs King and Walter Starkie and had a copy of Elias Valiña's guide. Nothing about it suggests that he knows anything at all about the modern camino.
 

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