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All Welcome on the Camino

2020 Camino Guides

Wokabaut_Meri

somewhere along the Way
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2015
Pilgrims Way 2018
Via Francigena #1 Canterbury-Dover 2018
Come, come, whoever you are.
Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving.
It doesn't matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times.
Come, yet again, come, come.

Jelaluddin Rumi


Still processing and buzzing from the weekend...

I was privileged to participate in a workshop on challenges facing the Camino with Señor Isaias Calvo de la Uz. During our discussions he made the statement - echoed so beautifully in the Rumi poem - that ALL are welcome on the Camino.

John Brierley mentioned in his talk that there are many other great religious pilgrimages in the world but that they are specific to a religion eg the Hajj or the Kumbh Mela.

Once again, this Forum has had several lively discussions on what it means to be a pilgrim but our speakers really touched the essence of the Camino de Santiago. It welcomes all...

On another note, Señor Isaias told us that 10 million visitors are expected to Santiago in the Holy Year of which 10% would probably be pilgrims :eek:
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
I agree with the sentiments expressed. I would just say that a statement that all are welcomed presupposes that there is a selection process that either admits or disallows walkers. The Camino is basically public access paths and roads and trails, etc. so anyone for any reason can make a journey along those ways.

I say this because I think the speaker has hit on something more important than the access to a physical path; it is that each individual ON that path has the ability to be accepting of others regardless of their reasons for walking, or their background. As we work on that acceptance, it helps to strengthen us and our character.

But I still prefer to walk without crowds :)
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
I'm not sure that I buy the premise that the camino de Santiago is a more accepting and welcoming pilgrimage than others. While it's true that only Muslims can make the Haj, most other pilgrimage sites of my experience don't exclude people of other faiths. I've been warmly welcomed into a number of non-Christian holy sites.

I'd say more, but it would violate the rules.
 

Wokabaut_Meri

somewhere along the Way
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2015
Pilgrims Way 2018
Via Francigena #1 Canterbury-Dover 2018
I say this because I think the speaker has hit on something more important than the access to a physical path; it is that each individual ON that path has the ability to be accepting of others regardless of their reasons for walking, or their background. As we work on that acceptance, it helps to strengthen us and our character.
That was exactly the context in which the statement was made :) we were looking at challenges facing the Camino into the next decade and participants began - unconsciously - protecting ‘their’ experience to the exclusion of others.

It was definitely focussed on our acceptance of all as pilgrims, as people not in any physical sense of exclusion.

I, too, prefer to walk without crowds ;) my ‘little patch’ and we are greatly spoiled for that within Australia... and yes, the 100kms vs 300kms Compostela qualification was raised.
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
That was exactly the context in which the statement was made :) we were looking at challenges facing the Camino into the next decade and participants began - unconsciously - protecting ‘their’ experience to the exclusion of others.

It was definitely focussed on our acceptance of all as pilgrims, as people not in any physical sense of exclusion.

I, too, prefer to walk without crowds ;) my ‘little patch’ and we are greatly spoiled for that within Australia... and yes, the 100kms vs 300kms Compostela qualification was raised.
It would be interesting to know specifically what were discussed ( if practical impacts were even brought up) as the challenges ahead, in practical terms like, say increasing piles of feces and toilet paper. . or increasing lack of bed space at alburgues. . .or local residents growing weary of the pilgrim onslaught yet loving the income. And what were viewed as potential resolutions.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Thank you, @Wokabaut_Meri , for letting is have a peek at a meeting many would have loved to attend.

It would be interesting to know specifically what were discussed ( if practical impacts were even brought up) as the challenges ahead, in practical terms like, say increasing piles of feces and toilet paper. . or increasing lack of bed space at alburgues. . .or local residents growing weary of the pilgrim onslaught yet loving the income. And what were viewed as potential resolutions.
My question, too.
Less travelled caminos have an entirely different feel - no rubbish, no graffiti, no bed races, and meeting people who are genuinely glad to see a pilgrim, rather than feeling like you're perceived as one of a hoarde of locusts.
In 2021, the already crowded Francés will probably be even more of a zoo. I do wonder how institutions and people on the ground are planning to adapt.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
So from half a million to 10 million? Twenty times more?? I'll be surprised if that comes to be.
I guess 10 million in 2021 is a credible figure. According to this article, published by Clúster Turismo Gallego, the aim in 2021 is to surpass the 9,3 million visitors that marked the previous Holy Year of 2010. This number includes those who come for the day and don’t stay the night. Just for info, and to have a bit more of a framework for theses rather abstract figures: according to another news article, 3 million visited the Cathedral during the last Holy Year in 2010. I think when one compares figures from different sources, one should know exactly how “visitor” is defined. And it’s often best to go directly to the source that produces the statistics, which is not always easy to find.

As to the number of foot/bicycle Camino pilgrims expected in Santiago in 2021: the Xunta of Galicia base their planning on around 500,000 pilgrims (2019: around 350,000).
 
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Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
John Brierley mentioned in his talk that there are many other great religious pilgrimages in the world but that they are specific to a religion eg the Hajj or the Kumbh Mela.
And a pilgrimage to the shrine of an apostle housed in a Catholic cathedral is not specifically Christian? I have been fortunate enough to visit a number of pilgrimage sites internationally and to walk pilgrim routes of a number of faiths other than my own Christian background: Amritsar, Varanasi, Bodh Gaya, Shikoku, the Kumano Kodo. Sikh, Hindu, Buddhist, Shinto. I have been welcomed to share in the experience of all of these without in any way denying that they in essence "belong" to their particular faith group. Has our understanding of the Camino changed so much that it is no longer to be regarded even nominally as a Christian pilgrimage which is generously accepting and welcoming of others?
 

Wokabaut_Meri

somewhere along the Way
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2015
Pilgrims Way 2018
Via Francigena #1 Canterbury-Dover 2018
It would be interesting to know specifically what were discussed ( if practical impacts were even brought up) as the challenges ahead, in practical terms like, say increasing piles of feces and toilet paper. . or increasing lack of bed space at alburgues. . .or local residents growing weary of the pilgrim onslaught yet loving the income. And what were viewed as potential resolutions.
Oh yes!! All of the above and more were discussed but such a broad subject can only be touched upon. Of courseesources are limited and how best to spend them is the critical issue.

Certainly rubbish and toilets were top topics but also we were looking at the decade beyond so broader issues were discussed. Butcher paper lists are being collated by the wonderful organising committee so they will be available at some point.

Señor Isaias was certainly very open to developing the lesser Caminos to take pressure off the busy Sarria-Santiago route.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Has our understanding of the Camino changed so much that it is no longer to be regarded even nominally as a Christian pilgrimage which is generously accepting and welcoming of others?
Goodness, I hope not. Because it is a Christian pilgrimage. Which is exceedingly welcoming to others.
I can't find the text of the inscription at Roncesvalles, but that welcome has old and deep roots.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
I was privileged to participate in a workshop on challenges facing the Camino with Señor Isaias Calvo de la Uz. During our discussions he made the statement - echoed so beautifully in the Rumi poem - that ALL are welcome on the Camino.
I had to look up who he is. He is a government official from the Xunta, director de Administración y Relaciones con las Asociaciones de Amigos del Camino de Santiago de Sociedad, from the Xestión do Plan Xacobeo de la Xunta de Galicia, so responsible for relations between the Xunta and the Camino associations in Spain and worldwide and involved in the Xunta’s plans for the upcoming Holy Year 2021.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Señor Isaias was certainly very open to developing the lesser Caminos to take pressure off the busy Sarria-Santiago route.
I know the Xunta intends to spend 2020 promoting the Invierno. I have to admit that I selfishly hope it does not get too busy. :oops:
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
Goodness, I hope not. Because it is a Christian pilgrimage. Which is exceedingly welcoming to others.
I can't find the text of the inscription at Roncesvalles, but that welcome has old and deep roots.
I disagree. This is how the Camino pilgrimage is sold today but the pilgrimage had not been not welcoming to all (Jews and Muslims and heretics, as mentioned in the Roncesvalles poem that has many more lines than the four lines usually quoted). Christian pilgrimage and Christian hospitality were not the same. Christian hospitality - welcoming the poor, the stranger, in fact everyone and anyone and providing care for them - is older than the Middle Ages and it is a core tenet of Christian faith but it was separate from pilgrimage as such.

The fact that all are welcome to go on pilgrimage to Santiago shows how secular the Camino pilgrimage has become. It also shows, of course, that the Christian churches have become more tolerant and accepting of those of other faiths or no faith at all, in a religious context.
 
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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
The fact that all are welcome to go on pilgrimage to Santiago shows how secular the Camino pilgrimage has become.
And (from lots of personal experience as a non-Christian) I have found more than just Christian hospitality, but Christian brother- and sister-hood. The deep welcome, and probing but open-hearted conversations on both sides have continuously amazed and humbled me.
I would say that it's not that the camino has become secular, but that the nature of the pilgrimage (and the nature of many people's Christian faith) has shifted to become less literal and more mystical than it was 1000 years ago.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
I would say that it's not that the camino has become secular, but that the nature of the pilgrimage (and the nature of many people's Christian faith) has shifted to become less literal and more mystical than it was 1000 years ago.
There are words - proper ones, not derogatory ones - to describe the changes and developments you allude to but "more mystical" isn't a term that I would use or that I encounter when I read about it. :cool:
 

Wokabaut_Meri

somewhere along the Way
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2015
Pilgrims Way 2018
Via Francigena #1 Canterbury-Dover 2018
Thank you, @Wokabaut_Meri , for letting is have a peek at a meeting many would have loved to attend.
Thank you!

Yes, that’s all my posts are folks - just an unofficial participant’s experience of an absolutely fabulous and thought provoking weekend.

...but seeing the response to this topic gives you all an appreciation of the many, many lively discussions that were had :p
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
The fact that all are welcome to go on pilgrimage to Santiago shows how secular the Camino pilgrimage has become.
The perception of the Camino has certainly changed. Something to which the writings of people like Brierley have contributed. Recently @Kathar1na posted some interesting figures from 1987 in which about 98% of the 1,400 walking had declared themselves to be Roman Catholic. The others were all at least nominally Christians of other denominations with the exception of two Buddhists, two Jews and a solitary individual listed as "sans religion". On my first Camino I was refused a credencial in SJPDP and part of the reason given for that refusal was my failure to produce a letter of reference from the priest of my home parish testifying to my own religious character and intentions. Unthinkable today. There has been a huge shift in the understanding of what the camino represents but I would be sad to think that the very welcome inclusion of those of other faiths or none is interpreted as meaning that the Camino is no longer in any sense a Christian pilgrimage.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
Yes, that’s all my posts are folks - just an unofficial participant’s experience of an absolutely fabulous and thought provoking weekend.
Well, you chose "All welcome on the camino" as the title of your thread so I guess it's not surprising when there are comments on this particular aspect. And sometimes, people even read only the title and then comment. ☺
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
I can't find the text of the inscription at Roncesvalles, but that welcome has old and deep roots.
Below is a translation from Latin via Spanish into English, with the help of DeepL and based on a modern edition. The quotation consists of 4 lines that you can find in every other guidebook and many times on this forum and on blogs, plus the next 4 lines that are usually omitted, thereby eliminating much of the context. These lines are an extract from a long 12th or 13th century poem. It's about Roncesvalles and not about the pilgrimage as such.

[Ronvesvalles'] door is open to all, to the sick and to the healthy; not only to Catholics [Christians], but also to pagans [Muslims], to Jews, to heretics, to the idle and to the vain, in short, to the good and to the profane. Here are practiced the six works of mercy that God commanded man to do so that when the Year of Heavenly Glory [end of time / Judgement Day] comes, he will not be judged guilty and thus will not be separated from the faithful [= and thus will not be condemned to spending eternity in Hell].

The contemporary Camino pilgrimage is now a Bring Your Own Faith pilgrimage. There's nothing wrong with it per se, I just feel it contorts the purpose and long history of the pilgrimage when this is presented as having its roots in the High Middle Ages.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) Portugues(2013)
San Salvador (2017) Ingles (2019)
Come, come, whoever you are.
Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving.
It doesn't matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times.
Come, yet again, come, come.

Jelaluddin Rumi


Still processing and buzzing from the weekend...

I was privileged to participate in a workshop on challenges facing the Camino with Señor Isaias Calvo de la Uz. During our discussions he made the statement - echoed so beautifully in the Rumi poem - that ALL are welcome on the Camino.

John Brierley mentioned in his talk that there are many other great religious pilgrimages in the world but that they are specific to a religion eg the Hajj or the Kumbh Mela.

Once again, this Forum has had several lively discussions on what it means to be a pilgrim but our speakers really touched the essence of the Camino de Santiago. It welcomes all...

On another note, Señor Isaias told us that 10 million visitors are expected to Santiago in the Holy Year of which 10% would probably be pilgrims :eek:
All welcome on the Camino. Yes. True? If your experience was positive, you will agree. If for some reason you did not find welcome, stop the bus: is the Camino there for me to find welcome? The Camino is there for me, personally, me, to experience... what exactly? Recently, looking at a number of threads, I wonder to myself - and here, before I say what I wonder, let me say that I respect and admire so many people on this forum who contribute in response to all kinds of questions about practical and other dimensions of walking any one of the Camino - will we ever be able to capture it all, the essence of Camino, the experience or the meaning of pilgrimage? I love the way that there are so many angles, and so many people who contribute experiences, thoughts, research, so that people like me can learn to be more open and accepting of other, of difference. and also, more practical and historical lessons are here by the dozen!
I do not define what is pilgrimage or pilgrim for anyone other than myself I am so utterly grateful that I can take time, and spend money, on walking Caminos. It is my way of paying attention for a period of time to the reason for my being. I do not need to find myself. I was found many long years ago! However, it is foolish to rest on one's laurels, so I add my words of gratitude for the existence of the infrastructure of the modern Camino to Santiago. It is there for me, for you, for us. Ultreia y suseia!
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
This recent article and also here shed some light on these numbers. According to the mayor of Santiago de Compostela, one has to distinguish between peregrinos, turistas, excursionistas y visitantes. I am not sure how these are defined or how to translate these terms, I'd think it's pilgrims, tourists, day-trippers (for example from cruise ships or people who stay on holiday in another town and visit Santiago during the day) and visitors. I guess the visitantes group includes everyone but this is often not clear.

The mayor pointed out that the data forecasts for 2021 speak of:
  • around 10 million visitors in Galicia as a whole [I think current figures are around 5 million per year]
    • of these, 500,000-600,000 would be pilgrims, ie 5% of the total [currently 350,000+],
    • tourists [overnight in Santiago] would be around 1,6 million [currently half a million?]
    • 8 million would be excursionistas.
  • they counted 9,2 million visitors during the previous Holy Year in 2021.
So to put this into perspective: they expect the number of turistas and excursionistas to double in the Holy Year 2021 compared to now, and a much lower increase in the number of foot and bicycle pilgrims. But overall, they expect a similar figure compared to 2010. Roughly. In any case, this makes more sense to me than a 10-fold increase. 🤓
 
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Wokabaut_Meri

somewhere along the Way
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2015
Pilgrims Way 2018
Via Francigena #1 Canterbury-Dover 2018
Well, you chose "All welcome on the camino" as the title of your thread so I guess it's not surprising when there are comments on this particular aspect. And sometimes, people even read only the title and then comment. ☺
...and I haven’t even got to the more contentious discussions yet 🤣
 

Anna Cameron

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances sept-oct 2018
Oh yes!! All of the above and more were discussed but such a broad subject can only be touched upon. Of courseesources are limited and how best to spend them is the critical issue.

Certainly rubbish and toilets were top topics but also we were looking at the decade beyond so broader issues were discussed. Butcher paper lists are being collated by the wonderful organising committee so they will be available at some point.

Señor Isaias was certainly very open to developing the lesser Caminos to take pressure off the busy Sarria-Santiago route.
Thank you, Meri, for sharing so much of the Conference discussions and proceedings with pilgrims on this Forum - and so articulately! I am still processing my impressions and emotions from the weekend and could not express them nearly as well as you are doing.
 

Anna Cameron

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances sept-oct 2018
I had to look up who he is. He is a government official from the Xunta, director de Administración y Relaciones con las Asociaciones de Amigos del Camino de Santiago de Sociedad, from the Xestión do Plan Xacobeo de la Xunta de Galicia, so responsible for relations between the Xunta and the Camino associations in Spain and worldwide and involved in the Xunta’s plans for the upcoming Holy Year 2021.
And, he did such a fine job at our Conference, explaining his role and planning underway for the Holy Year and beyond. But, he was also a wonderful participant and good sport over the entire weekend, joining in all the singing and activities and speaking to many of us individually. Apparently, he was very impressed with the resilience and stamina of Australian pilgrims, after he experienced the very long journey (and jet lag) required to travel between Spain and Oz/NZ!
 

Wokabaut_Meri

somewhere along the Way
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2015
Pilgrims Way 2018
Via Francigena #1 Canterbury-Dover 2018
And, he did such a fine job at our Conference, explaining his role and planning underway for the Holy Year and beyond. But, he was also a wonderful participant and good sport over the entire weekend, joining in all the singing and activities and speaking to many of us individually. Apparently, he was very impressed with the resilience and stamina of Australian pilgrims, after he experienced the very long journey (and jet lag) required to travel between Spain and Oz/NZ!
Yes we were a great surprise to him :) particularly for how many had walked a Camino.

...and watching Señor Isais cope with his first bad experience of jet lag and still give 110% to the Conference was a credit to the man.

The Camino is in very good hands
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
I agree with the sentiments expressed. I would just say that a statement that all are welcomed presupposes that there is a selection process that either admits or disallows walkers. The Camino is basically public access paths and roads and trails, etc. so anyone for any reason can make a journey along those ways.

I say this because I think the speaker has hit on something more important than the access to a physical path; it is that each individual ON that path has the ability to be accepting of others regardless of their reasons for walking, or their background. As we work on that acceptance, it helps to strengthen us and our character.

But I still prefer to walk without crowds :)
I don't think that inviting everyone to come presupposes a selection process. I could write "Come, whoever you are, come to Toronto, all are welcome here!" and people wouldn't suppose I was speaking of a selection process that decides who can visit but rather the attitudes that one will find among the people should they decide to visit.

I agree that the Camino is welcoming to all, and it is not some anthropomorphized road that is welcoming but the people. As you point out, the sentiment is noticeable among fellow pilgrims (even those who would prefer to walk alone or on a less popular route). We all tend to come across as each other's cheerleaders. But I suspect, given his job, that Señor Isaias Calvo de la Uz was speaking the welcome on behalf of the people who live along the route, and more specifically, the Government of Galicia.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
And a pilgrimage to the shrine of an apostle housed in a Catholic cathedral is not specifically Christian? I have been fortunate enough to visit a number of pilgrimage sites internationally and to walk pilgrim routes of a number of faiths other than my own Christian background: Amritsar, Varanasi, Bodh Gaya, Shikoku, the Kumano Kodo. Sikh, Hindu, Buddhist, Shinto. I have been welcomed to share in the experience of all of these without in any way denying that they in essence "belong" to their particular faith group. Has our understanding of the Camino changed so much that it is no longer to be regarded even nominally as a Christian pilgrimage which is generously accepting and welcoming of others?
I wasn't at the session (being half a world away) but the My Camino podcast this week featured excerpts from a feew speakers, including Señor Isaias Calvo de la Uz. The way the Camino tended to be described in this context seemed to be as "Christianity's gift to the world".
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
The perception of the Camino has certainly changed. Something to which the writings of people like Brierley have contributed. Recently @Kathar1na posted some interesting figures from 1987 in which about 98% of the 1,400 walking had declared themselves to be Roman Catholic. The others were all at least nominally Christians of other denominations with the exception of two Buddhists, two Jews and a solitary individual listed as "sans religion". On my first Camino I was refused a credencial in SJPDP and part of the reason given for that refusal was my failure to produce a letter of reference from the priest of my home parish testifying to my own religious character and intentions. Unthinkable today. There has been a huge shift in the understanding of what the camino represents but I would be sad to think that the very welcome inclusion of those of other faiths or none is interpreted as meaning that the Camino is no longer in any sense a Christian pilgrimage.
In 1989 I had no problem getting a credencial in Roncesvalles without any questions into my religious character or motivations. I said that I wanted to go on pilgrimage from Roncesvalles to Santiago and I was told "in that case you'll need one of these". I wasn't diligent about getting it stamped, didn't stay in albergues every night and didn't ask for a Compostela when I arrived, but I very much felt myself a pilgrim along the route.

Of course, the probing questions people got from a certain lady in SJPP are legendary.
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
Below is a translation from Latin via Spanish into English, with the help of DeepL and based on a modern edition. The quotation consists of 4 lines that you can find in every other guidebook and many times on this forum and on blogs, plus the next 4 lines that are usually omitted, thereby eliminating much of the context. These lines are an extract from a long 12th or 13th century poem. It's about Roncesvalles and not about the pilgrimage as such.

[Ronvesvalles'] door is open to all, to the sick and to the healthy; not only to Catholics [Christians], but also to pagans [Muslims], to Jews, to heretics, to the idle and to the vain, in short, to the good and to the profane. Here are practiced the six works of mercy that God commanded man to do so that when the Year of Heavenly Glory [end of time / Judgement Day] comes, he will not be judged guilty and thus will not be separated from the faithful [= and thus will not be condemned to spending eternity in Hell].

The contemporary Camino pilgrimage is now a Bring Your Own Faith pilgrimage. There's nothing wrong with it per se, I just feel it contorts the purpose and long history of the pilgrimage when this is presented as having its roots in the High Middle Ages.
@Kathar1na thanks for the translation. Not a bad job. Though I admit to a raising an eyebrow or two at the equation of pagan and muslim, as no doubt would any muslim of good heart. "There is no god but God" doesn't really have many parallels with my eclectic pantheon ;)

That the modern camino is open to all faiths and none is indisputable. Whether its a place of comfort and joy to all is much more debatable. I tend to keep quiet about my beliefs and intentions when I'm on the Ways. The christians, they're a pretty friendly and open bunch but the secularists - they're a fundamental pain.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
I admit to a raising an eyebrow or two at the equation of pagan and muslim, as no doubt would any muslim of good heart. "There is no god but God" doesn't really have many parallels with my eclectic pantheon ;)
You are apparently not a medieval writer ☺. It's a fascinating topic and I had not been aware of it for a long time. Pagan and Saracen became synonyms for a while to the extent that even the Danes and the Lithuanians who had not yet been converted to Christians were called Saracens. But instead of droning on about it, I'll just quote from another really long poem that I admit I have never read in its entirety and probably never will.

Says Oliver: "Pagans in force abound,
While of us Franks but very few I count;
Comrade Roland, your horn I pray you sound!
If Charles hears, he'll turn his armies round."
Answers Roland: "A fool I should be found;
In France the Douce would perish my renown.
With Durendal I'll lay on thick and stout,
In blood the blade, to its golden hilt, I'll drown.
Felon pagans to the pass shall not come down;
I pledge you now, to death they all are bound.
That's two occurrences of "pagans" and there are many more. And just in case you wondered: the original uses the word "païen".

As to your eclectic pantheon: I'm intrigued by the references you've occasionally made but I've not yet managed to make up my mind about what to believe ... 😉
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Felon pagans to the pass shall not come down; I pledge you now, to death they all are bound.
A whole lot of us are in trouble, then, no matter how we come over the pass at Ibañeta! ;)
Roland's ghost will be out to get all of us pagans.

Thanks @kathar1ina. Fascinating.
christians, they're a pretty friendly and open bunch but the secularists - they're a fundamental pain.
Only slightly off topic, I wish we humans - the lot of us, either religious or secular humanists - would grow up and learn to stop standing on our wee soapboxes, making everyone else's soapbox wrong. Sigh.

Fortunately soapboxes are not usually what the camino is about - there is welcome. And the odd person who has a soapbox is easy to avoid. (Next time I meet someone like that, I hope I can remember to ask how much their soapbox weighs.)
 

Wokabaut_Meri

somewhere along the Way
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2015
Pilgrims Way 2018
Via Francigena #1 Canterbury-Dover 2018
A whole lot of us are in trouble, then, no matter how we come over the pass at Ibañeta! ;)
Roland's ghost will be out to get all of us pagans.

Thanks @kathar1ina. Fascinating.
Only slightly off topic, I wish we humans - the lot of us, either religious or secular humanists - would grow up and learn to stop standing on our wee soapboxes, making everyone else's soapbox wrong. Sigh.

Fortunately soapboxes are not usually what the camino is about - there is welcome. And the odd person who has a soapbox is easy to avoid. (Next time I meet someone like that, I hope I can remember to ask how much their soapbox weighs.)
...and doesn’t Johnnie Walker encapsulate it so beautifully in his book It’s about time:

Some people say that Camino only works if you do it in the ‘correct way’. In any group of pilgrims this will be a hot topic. Some will argue that you aren’t a real pilgrim if you don’t sleep in albergues and carry everything you need in your rucksack. Others say a pilgrimage is only a pilgrimage because of prayer, and if you don’t pray, it is simply a hike. ‘No pain, no gain’ is a particular grim slogan regarding blisters and sore muscles by those who believe that the Camino has to hurt to be effective.

My own view is simple. Take time out to make the pilgrimage by walking a Camino route to Santiago and let the journey do the rest. When I hear pilgrims arguing about this I say, ‘it doesn’t matter’.

The only thing that matters is that wherever you start, you walk every step of the way to Santiago and treat and its traditions with respect. It is a holy road.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Fortunately soapboxes are not usually what the camino is about - there is welcome. And the odd person who has a soapbox is easy to avoid. (Next time I meet someone like that, I hope I can remember to ask how much their soapbox weighs.)
I've only really experienced people with soapboxes on the forum, but never on the Camino.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
never on the Camino
Never? Oh, you are more lucky than me!
It's true that they are a rarity on the road, but they are definitely there.
Tiresome 'experts,' or people who insist on judging fellow pilgrims as not 'real' pilgrims.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
...and doesn’t Johnnie Walker encapsulate it so beautifully in his book It’s about time:

Some people say that Camino only works if you do it in the ‘correct way’. In any group of pilgrims this will be a hot topic. Some will argue that you aren’t a real pilgrim if you don’t sleep in albergues and carry everything you need in your rucksack. Others say a pilgrimage is only a pilgrimage because of prayer, and if you don’t pray, it is simply a hike. ‘No pain, no gain’ is a particular grim slogan regarding blisters and sore muscles by those who believe that the Camino has to hurt to be effective.

My own view is simple. Take time out to make the pilgrimage by walking a Camino route to Santiago and let the journey do the rest. When I hear pilgrims arguing about this I say, ‘it doesn’t matter’.

The only thing that matters is that wherever you start, you walk every step of the way to Santiago and treat and its traditions with respect. It is a holy road.
In general, I agree, but I'm not so sure about "walk every step of the way". If someone is injured and takes a taxi for 10 km out of however many they are walking (especially when not in the last 100) I am not so quick to say that they are not doing it the "correct way" and I suspect that the Camino will still work for them.
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
In general, I agree, but I'm not so sure about "walk every step of the way". If someone is injured and takes a taxi for 10 km out of however many they are walking (especially when not in the last 100) I am not so quick to say that they are not doing it the "correct way" and I suspect that the Camino will still work for them.
I do not think that John had that sort of situation in mind when he wrote. My impression is that he is thinking more of the cherry-picking approach of those who ask what are the most attractive parts of a Camino and what others they can happily skip. To me that approach does undermine the concept of a pilgrimage.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
I do not think that John had that sort of situation in mind when he wrote. My impression is that he is thinking more of the cherry-picking approach of those who ask what are the most attractive parts of a Camino and what others they can happily skip. To me that approach does undermine the concept of a pilgrimage.
My concept of pilgrimage is somewhat broader. For me, if you are getting yourself to a holy place and/or moving along a holy path, with the knowledge that it is considered a holy place/path and because it is considered a holy place/path (even if you do not yourself consider it holy) then you are a pilgrim. I don't so much care how you get there or move along the path and you can walk, bike, ride a horse, ride a bus, take a car (your own, rented or hitchhiking), take a train or plane, whatever for whatever parts of the journey you wish and still rightfully consider yourself a pilgrim. In fact, when I look at all of my journeys of pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, all have involved planes or buses or trains or all of the above for some portion of the journey.

What counts to me is the intention of being a pilgrim, whether conscious or unconscious, acknowledged or not. So anyone who calls themselves a pilgrim I would agree with, and some who may not consider themselves pilgrims I would still consider as pilgrims. I'm pretty liberal with the term.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
My concept of pilgrimage is somewhat broader.
"Camino" isn't any kind of pilgrimage. It is a foot pilgrimage. And to a much smaller extent a bike pilgrimage. A pilgrimage by train, or bus, or car is a pilgrimage to Santiago but not a Camino.
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
What counts to me is the intention of being a pilgrim, whether conscious or unconscious, acknowledged or not. So anyone who calls themselves a pilgrim I would agree with, and some who may not consider themselves pilgrims I would still consider as pilgrims. I'm pretty liberal with the term.
I agree that intention is key to what makes a journey a pilgrimage. That is why I have no trouble with those who travel to Santiago, Rome or anywhere else by car, bus, train or airplane being a pilgrim. It is also a large part of my objection to the 100km rule which I believe creates a huge artificial division in thinking about pilgrimage. But I am deeply puzzled in trying to understand a spiritual intention which would underpin a deliberate and concerted effort to experience only the picturesque and unchallenging parts of a route. I have no window into the hearts of others but personally I could not square that with my own understanding of pilgrimage. Other hotly disputed questions like the use of luggage transport, albergues versus hotels, walking versus bike and the rest do not trouble me but the continuity of a pilgrimage journey from start to finish is my one personal inviolable rule.
 

Davey Boyd

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Again, soon as possible!
I read (somewhere) that the word Pilgrim comes from the pre-christian Latin word Peregrinus that means 'the stranger that comes over the fields'. I don't know if this is actually true, but I like it.

If you are a pilgrim in your heart, then you are a pilgrim in my mind. If you are searching for something then you are a pilgrim. Maybe we all are, walking to Santiago or not.

I am an anarchist pilgrim!
Just my interpretation of course.

Davey
 

Dromengro

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Partial frances 1980s
Frances (2020)
The perception of the Camino has certainly changed.
On my first Camino I was refused a credencial in SJPDP and part of the reason given for that refusal was my failure to produce a letter of reference from the priest of my home parish testifying to my own religious character and intentions.
Like Bradypus, I too was also denied a credencial in SJPDP when I walked the Frances in the 80s. I can't remember the year but between 84 & 87. Although not religious, I was walking it for spiritual reasons but had to face an inquisition from a fierce old woman who told me that because I didn't have a letter from a priest I was not a real pilgrim. Then when she found out I was starting my journey from SJPDP she almost exploded. Shouting that I should have started from my home, and chased me out into the street and told me in no uncertain terms that I was not welcome to walk her route.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
"Camino" isn't any kind of pilgrimage. It is a foot pilgrimage. And to a much smaller extent a bike pilgrimage. A pilgrimage by train, or bus, or car is a pilgrimage to Santiago but not a Camino.
My use of "Camino" is somewhat broader than yours. If people on bicycles and horses are considered to be doing a "Camino", I don't bind it to modes of transportation. I probably wouldn't say that someone who has flown directly to Santiago airport has done a Camino, but I would say that someone has "done a Camino" who had driven along the French route from Roncesvalles to Santiago through Pamplona, Puente la Reina, Estella, Logroño, Santo Domingo de la Calzada, etc., etc., especially if they had stopped frequently to appreciate places along the way and made the trip with pilgrim intent. I wouldn't say they had "walked a Camino", though.

It's a bit trickier when they are not going on one of the documented routes but rather making their own unique way to Santiago. In that case, I am more likely to use the term "Camino" for someone who has walked than for someone who just drove the biggest highways there without stopping or looking beyond the highway signs.
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
In July I attended the kickoff event for Xacobeo's Holy Year plan at the Ciudad de Cultura in Santiago. It was a razzle-dazzle spectacle worthy of Los Vegas, with lots of sparkly scallop shells and bagpipes and guys in suits.
Xacobeo is a PR arm of the Galician government, which views the Camino as beginning and ending at the Gallego border... the routes to the east and south and north are kinda just ways to get to them. The Camino is a major moneymaker for Galicia, and the Holy Year is being massively hyped in hopes that visitor numbers -- and profits -- will double or treble. Xacobeo is all about NUMBERS. Its success is measured by busloads and packed houses... and ultimately, money. Sure, Xacobeo doesn't care who comes, long as they are counted, and long as they bring some cash.
I was here on the Way for the big Holy Year 2010, and we saw the same kind of breathless marketing in the months running up to it... the TV and internet ads, the pack covers, maps, socks, hats, the newly paved bus-parking lots... they really really wanted huge waves of tourism. And when the year arrived? Yeah, there was a bump in the numbers, but nothing like we'd all been led to expect. It seems a lot of people saw the hype and stayed away, not wanting to be lost in the crowd!
Evidently Xacobeo has not learned from that experience.
Come, come whoever you are. Listen to the voice within. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.
 

hel&scott

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
I was here on the Way for the big Holy Year 2010, and we saw the same kind of breathless marketing in the months running up to it.
I've inadvertently undertaken the camino in two holy years, 2004 and 2010. 2010 wasnt so bad, although we did come into Santiago at the tail end of a storm and just after the pope so it kind of reminded me of a morning after of a student party. The French Route in 2004 didn't appear to cope well with the sudden influx of numbers, I remember seeing a graph of number by year and 2004 stood out as a great increase that wasnt meet again for another 4 years. Good to see the powers that be are trying to get ahead of things for the next wave, hopefully it isnt just confined to within the Gallician borders.

Christian hospitality - welcoming the poor, the stranger, in fact everyone and anyone and providing care for them - is older than the Middle Ages and it is a core tenet of Christian faith
It's worth noting that most cultures include similar tenets of hospitality, in desert cultures it is common to provide water and shelter to strangers and as a couple of tree hugging pagans we were always made welcome by our Muslim brothers and sisters when visiting their home lands.

Bit like pagan comes from paganus, the country dweller.
Lots of sources for pagan, it usually is used in a derogatory sense where one group refers to another earlier group such as Christians refering to Romans or Spanish Catholics refering to Moors. It's not helpful to dwell on it to much and I am more then happy to claim it to describe the roots of my beliefs. And happy to report that I've found the camino to be a generally welcoming place.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
My use of "Camino" is somewhat broader than yours.
Remember? This exchange started because of a quote from Johnnie Walker's book and had to do with "every step of the way". Where, btw, I also think that it should not be taken too literally.

My point is that, generally speaking, Camino means continuous walking for most people, notwithstanding the bikes and the horses and the wheelchairs and the sailing boats and what you do when you are ill for a day or two or have planned it in such a way that you risk running out of time. While pilgrimage is the broader concept.

Ah, I wish you would all speak German. It would be so much easier for you to accept that there is a thing called Fußwallfahrt and that one distinguishes between a Fußwallfahrt and the more general Wallfahrt. 🙃
 
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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Ah, I wish you would all speak German. It would be so much easier for you to accept that there is a thing called Fußwallfahrt and that one distinguishes between a Fußwallfahrt and the more general Wallfahrt.
Haha! Well, now we all know, and there should be no further excuses for mixing up a Fußwallfahrt and a plain old Wallfahrt.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
Haha! Well, now we all know, and there should be no further excuses for mixing up a Fußwallfahrt and a plain old Wallfahrt.
And when I feel that you are ready for it, I’m going to familiarise you with the Buswallfahrt. Please pay attention to the spelling, don't write ‘s’ instead of ‘ß’ or vice versa. I got it wrong and had to correct my previous post. 🙃
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I read (somewhere) that the word Pilgrim comes from the pre-christian Latin word Peregrinus that means 'the stranger that comes over the fields'. I don't know if this is actually true, but I like it.

If you are a pilgrim in your heart, then you are a pilgrim in my mind. If you are searching for something then you are a pilgrim. Maybe we all are, walking to Santiago or not.

I am an anarchist pilgrim!
Just my interpretation of course.

Davey
I go with this definition from the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

The course of life on earth

 

Tandem Graham

Every new day an adventure
Camino(s) past & future
Bike: Mont St Michel-SdC. Budapest-Vezelay. Alicante-Burgos
Walk: Le Puy-SJPdP. Dax-(CF)-SdC.
"Camino" isn't any kind of pilgrimage. It is a foot pilgrimage. And to a much smaller extent a bike pilgrimage. A pilgrimage by train, or bus, or car is a pilgrimage to Santiago but not a Camino.
I agree that there is more than one kind of pilgrimage. I'm not sure what status you are giving your definition of Camino. If you mean that, for you, it's not a Camino unless it's under your own steam, then you're of course perfectly entitled to that view. I'm not sure it works in Spanish though!
I'd prefer to stick to a literal translation of Camino de Santiago. It is literally a Way of (from or to) Santiago - the infrastructure rather than the activity. I describe my journeys as walking (or cycling) pilgrimages along one of the Caminos de Santiago.
A few of my fellow walkers were insistent that theirs was a hike along the Camino, not a pilgrimage. Some (cruise) tourists I met in Santiago said they had chosen the optional 'pilgrimage' to the cathedral - a day trip from A Coruna by coach.
Back to the original post, I think all are welcomed by *most* pilgrims and hosts on the Caminos, whatever their motivation and/or means of travel. If the anti-inclusive road sign graffiti prevalent this year on the CF was by pilgrims, then a small minority of pilgrims are not so open armed.
I see the Thread title as a reminder or a challenge for us to pass the welcome we have received onto fellow and new would-be Caminantes. But it's more than 'welcomed', it's embraced, encouraged and celebrated. My relationship with fellow walking pilgrims should be one of mutual support and respect. I'm not sure I always quite reach that standard, but I'll continue reminding myself!
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
I agree that there is more than one kind of pilgrimage. I'm not sure what status you are giving your definition of Camino. If you mean that, for you, it's not a Camino unless it's under your own steam, then you're of course perfectly entitled to that view. I'm not sure it works in Spanish though!
It all started with a quote in this post. Camino has obviously become a term used by English speakers. And my point is that those who use the term in general use it and understand it to denote something that one walks continuously - in general. I didn't expect this simple observation to become the subject of a longer discussion ...
 

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