A donation to the forum removes ads for you, and supports Ivar in his work running it

Advertisement

Luggage Transfer Correos

Camino angels - origin?

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way + voie de Tours + CF + Gulf of Biscay + English Channel)
I am curious about "camino angel". On the way up to the Alto de Perdon, I had already outed myself as a Camino ignoramus when we had to stop to let some cyclists pass and got into chatting with another group. While introducing themselves, a "Jack from Ireland" was mentioned, to great hilarity all around. I had to ask who he was as I had never heard of him nor seen him before.

Not much later, at a stop in the next village, someone said first to me and then to her neighbour that I was their "camino angel". I did not dare to ask where that came from - Shirley MacLaine, Paul Coelho?

BTW, I had not done anything particular that I had not done before many times: trying to teach someone who was obviously unfit and inexperienced to understand that going up a modest hill - or a long flight of stairs for that matter - really slowly slowly was the least exhausting way for him to reach the top.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (Sept 2014)
Hi Katharina. Congratulations on your angelic nature! It is not that angels do such exceptional things, it is that they act with open hearts, for reasons beyond themselves. Reassuring someone that it's ok and often wise to go up hill slowly may be a life lesson in a fast-forward world!

In the spiritual tradition of Christianity 'angels' are God's messengers. Maybe the person you helped was intending to use the word more casually, but it would make a lot of sense to refer to you as a 'Camino angel' if you were doing something that had a strong impact on them, helping them on their Way.

In that ancient pilgrimage tradition, such a messenger who carries guidance, aid or a well-timed gift of something soon to be needed, is one way 'the Camino provides us all that we really need, when we really do need it'. It is another way of saying that you were the answer to their prayer, and that they see you as cooperating with God's desire to be a loving parent in their time of need. Even if the person you helped wasn't Christian and didn't intend to use it that way, that's the best explanation I could give of what 'Camino angel' might have meant over the ages.
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
I suppose they mean the Irish gentleman from the movie "The Way"
Ah! I see! I saw the movie but think it was on a small screen on an airplane. I clearly didn't commit the details to memory.

Thanks for the answer!
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
I suppose they mean the Irish gentleman from the movie "The Way"
I think Estevez picked up the "angel" concept from Camino lore. Jack did not invent it in the film, I don't think. The term has been in the Forum almost from its start. Good deeds abound. That may or may not qualify for "angel" status, but it is a nice tradition.

Use more Compeed on others than yourself.
Matthew 15:23
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (Sept 2014)
Good point Katharina. I liked your question because it opened layers. What if the movie or Shirley MacLaine's book did use a catch-phrase about 'Camino angel'? Your question shows how ancient words gain or loose power to express a single meaning, depending on the current cultural reference points of each party.

Would it be correct to say that a good Samaritan can be a messenger of goodness and, on the Camino, more likely to be seen as an angel? If the Bible is even one of many possible cultural references, that leaves it to the recipients to determine if they coincidentally find good, helpful people at key moments, or if they encounter mounting personalized proof of the Creator's attentive love & innovative desire for goodness in their lives.

I'd better stop now, as I sure don't have credentials to guess the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin :D
 

CaminoJohn

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2006,2008,2011; VDLP, Sanabrias (2018)
"Camino Angel" may come from the very long tradition, here in the states, of being a "Trail Angel" on one of the three long distances trails here; the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail. In this tradition a "trail angel" is someone who provides unsolicited support to through hikers on the trail. "Trail Magic" is a special moment/place on the trail where someone is providing support. I earned both titles this year on the CDT by providing food and other support at a spot 2 days distance from any town on a particular weekend for more than 3 years in a row. My sister has earned this title by packing extra sandwiches to pass out as she is hiking on the AT near here home. No biblical references implied on these secular routes.
On the camino, volunteer hospitaleros are the obvious camino angels secular or not. Sounds like you did something nice and noted!
 
Last edited:

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
"Camino Angel" may come from the very long tradition, here in the states, of being a "Trail Angel" on one of the three long distances trails here
The U.S. is 500 years old. The Appalachian Trail was started in 1923, and became nominally a part of the National Park Service in 1968, which is still acquiring parts of it.

The Camino de Santiago goes back to the 9th century.

While it is possible that an American tradition affected a European tradition, I would go with a less U.S.-centric opinion that it is the other way around. ;)
 

CaminoJohn

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2006,2008,2011; VDLP, Sanabrias (2018)
The U.S. is 500 years old. The Appalachian Trail was started in 1923, and became nominally a part of the National Park Service in 1968, which is still acquiring parts of it.

The Camino de Santiago goes back to the 9th century.

While it is possible that an American tradition affected a European tradition, I would go with a less U.S.-centric opinion that it is the other way around. ;)
Of course. But the revitalization of the camino and its use by a world wide population, including those familiar with the American trails, only dates to the 1980's or so.
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Thank you for your link re metanoia. Whatever their past history or present beliefs may all who walk the camino sense such a trancendental 'change of heart and mind'.
 
Last edited:

LGLG

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP - Finisterre (2005) ; LePuy - Muxia (2007) ; Porto - SC. (2009) planning Lourdes- SC (2018)

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way + voie de Tours + CF + Gulf of Biscay + English Channel)
That's an old thread from four years ago. I was curious to know where the term "camino angel" comes from. It was always obvious to me that there are various ideas about the existence and effects of angels and that you may call another person who does something nice for you an angel.

I put "trail angel" definition and "camino angel" definition into Google just now: 59.200 hits versus 2.100 hits.

To paraphrase a currently famous parliamentary person: The trail angels have it, the trail angels have it. 🙃
 
Last edited:

Raggy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
One of the figures frequently found in churches and other places associated with pilgrimage is Saint Raphael the Archangel. Raphael is often depicted with a pilgrim staff, gourd, and fish. These items are references to the story about Raphael assisting and protecting the young Tobias on a journey. I guess that the idea of an angel as a protector of pilgrims has older roots than the pilgrimage to Santiago:
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way + voie de Tours + CF + Gulf of Biscay + English Channel)
Raphael is often depicted with a pilgrim staff, gourd, and fish.
I vividly remember a statue of Saint Raphael in Burgos Cathedral with wings, fish and pilgrim garb. However, can you name a single legend where an angel or angels protected or saved pilgrims on the way to Santiago? I doubt it. They were all protected or saved by Saint James.

My money is still firmly on "trail angel" as the origin for the term "camino angel".
 
Last edited:

Raggy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
I vividly remember a statue of Saint Raphael in Burgos Cathedral with wings, fish and pilgrim garb. However, can you name a single legend where an angel or angels protected or saved pilgrims on the way to Santiago? I doubt it. They were all protected or saved by Saint James.
There is such an abundance of folklore in every pueblo. With all those statues of Raphael helping travelers up and down the country, I'd be very surprised if there wasn't a story about him protecting people on their way to Santiago. Perhaps it's just hard to compete with Saint James for headlines. Maybe Raphael just pointed out arrows that were difficult to spot or something. I'm sure if you ask around, you'll get to hear the story of Saint Raphael of the improved way finding and better directions.
My money is still firmly on "trail angel" as the origin for the term "camino angel".
And what's the origin of "trail angel"?
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way + voie de Tours + CF + Gulf of Biscay + English Channel)
For the linguistically inclined: the earliest citation of "trail angel" (found so far) refers apparently to a 1994 book titled Walking the Appalachian Trail by Larry Luxenberg.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
For the linguistically inclined: the earliest citation of "trail angel" (found so far) refers apparently to a 1994 book titled Walking the Appalachian Trail by Larry Luxenberg.
But note that it is used there as if it were already a commonly known term among hikers.

This links to the page in Luxenberg's book where the term is used (at Google Books):
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/?/Invierno ('19)
Saint Raphael the Archangel. Raphael is often depicted with a pilgrim staff, gourd, and fish.
Wait, wait. (Really) stupid question alert, but who is this guy? And what's with the fish?

Another layer of protection along the way?
Yes, please....I'll take it!

And more directly on topic...what about our friends Shirley and Paolo? I'm surprised no-one's brought them up because those books were full of angels.
 

Raggy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
Wait, wait. (Really) stupid question alert, but who is this guy? And what's with the fish?
The wikipedia link that I attached is a good way to start, but since you asked, here's my unofficial summary:

The book of Tobit tells the story that in a hole in the ground there lived a Tobbit. NO NO NO. That's The Hobbit. . The book of Tobit is about a righteous, blind, man called Tobit, who send his son Tobias on a journey to Medina to collect some money that he's owed.
On his way, Tobias meets Raphael, who accompanies him in disguise. There's a fish that damn near bites off Tobias' arm, but somehow he manages to land it. Raphael tells him to keep the organs for some neat stuff that he'll show him later. On their travels, they come to the house of Sarah, who's having a string of bad luck. Every time she gets married, a devil kills her husband. Raphael tells Tobias to make an awful stink by burning some of the organs of the fish. This drives the devil out and Raphael does some angel jiu jitsu on him to keep him away - KaPow! Then Tobias marries Sarah and it's really cool. And then they go back to Tobit with the money, and Raphael shows Tobias how to use some more fish organs to cure his father's sight. And they all lived happily ever after.

Having a badass angel like Raphael with you when you're walking is just awesome.
 
Last edited:

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way + voie de Tours + CF + Gulf of Biscay + English Channel)
Wait, wait. (Really) stupid question alert, but who is this guy? And what's with the fish?
Another layer of protection along the way?
Yes, please....I'll take it!
Raphael is the mate of Gabriel, Michael, and Uriel ;).

Pilgrims in general (not only those going to Santiago) have a number of saintly protectors who are shown in pilgrim garb in art. Saint Roch is the most well known one, after Saint James. I think statues and paintings of Raphael in pilgrim garb are not as frequently seen as Saint James and Saint Roch.
 
Last edited:

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way + voie de Tours + CF + Gulf of Biscay + English Channel)
And more directly on topic...what about our friends Shirley and Paolo? I'm surprised no-one's brought them up because those books were full of angels.
My question did not refer to angels in the traditional sense appearing to people on or off the camino.

It referred to the most common meaning of "camino angel": an altruistic or simply helpful person encountered by those walking on a camino.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
In terms of terminology use.... My first (of 11) Caminos was in 2002 and I do not think that I heard it or ran into it in writing before 2012 or so. Camino family was a phrase I heard after a few stops back in 2002, but Camino angels seems to be fairly new. Perhaps, as others have suggested, it came into general use from the US trail angel idea?? I may not be using the search function on the Forum correctly, but the earliest use here is from 2017. Has someone found an earlier appearance in writing?
 

davebugg

"When I Have Your Wounded" - Dustoff Motto
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
In terms of terminology use.... My first (of 11) Caminos was in 2002 and I do not think that I heard it or ran into it in writing before 2012 or so. Camino family was a phrase I heard after a few stops back in 2002, but Camino angels seems to be fairly new. Perhaps, as others have suggested, it came into general use from the US trail angel idea?? I may not be using the search function on the Forum correctly, but the earliest use here is from 2017. Has someone found an earlier appearance in writing?
In reference to the term "Trail Angel", I had heard it being used in the early 1970s.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way + voie de Tours + CF + Gulf of Biscay + English Channel)
Camino family was a phrase I heard after a few stops back in 2002, but Camino angels seems to be fairly new. Perhaps, as others have suggested, it came into general use from the US trail angel idea?? I may not be using the search function on the Forum correctly, but the earliest use here is from 2017. Has someone found an earlier appearance in writing?
"Camino angel" used in the sense I mean: according to a Google search, the first time in a blog in 2008, and on the forum the first time in 2009. Both times, American English speakers. 😊
 
Last edited:

Davey Boyd

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Seven Compostelas in Three years and counting......
I always thought 'Camino Angel' came from the US from their 'Trail Angels'. I thought Trail Angels predate the use of Camino Angels but also seems a logical crossover.

Who invented the term 'Camino Candy' for Ibuprofen though!

Davey
 

OLDER threads on this topic


Book your lodging here

Booking.com



Advertisement

Booking.com

Most downloaded Resources

Forum Rules

Forum Rules

Camino Forum Store

Camino Forum Store

Casa Ivar Newsletter

Forum Donation

Forum Donation
For those with no forum account, it is possible to donate here as well. Thank you for your support! Ivar

Follow Casa Ivar on Instagram

When is the best time to walk?

  • January

    Votes: 12 1.3%
  • February

    Votes: 5 0.5%
  • March

    Votes: 41 4.3%
  • April

    Votes: 142 14.9%
  • May

    Votes: 236 24.8%
  • June

    Votes: 72 7.6%
  • July

    Votes: 20 2.1%
  • August

    Votes: 15 1.6%
  • September

    Votes: 277 29.1%
  • October

    Votes: 114 12.0%
  • November

    Votes: 12 1.3%
  • December

    Votes: 5 0.5%
Top