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Completion Certificate - The Facts Please

Camino(s) past & future
May - June 2018
#1
Hi all,

Unfortunately due to a recurring lower back injury and stuffed knees by the end of the 4th Stage at Estella, I’ve had to “reassess” my expectations for the Camino Frances. So, I’m needing some “concrete advice” as to when the actual minimum 100 km starts in order to obtain the Certificate and actually take something home with me back to Australia! Been an extremely frustrating experience getting to this point and hence have utilised the time to do some sight seeing if Burgos and León I’m a hope the lower back settles down. However, I’m willing to push it to do the minimum 100 km as I cannot see myself coming back over here again! So, I’ve been having this debate with a friend stating that the starting point is Triacastela whereas I believe it to be Sarria? And, that 2 stamps are required, per stage, from Sarria to Santiago inclusive.

Is this correct OR have I got it all horribly wrong. Look forward to your replies. Cheers.
 

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Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
#4
By "Completion certificate" I assume you mean the Compostela - issued by the cathedral's pilgrim office. For that you need a credencial stamped at least twice per day for a minimum of the last 100km to Santiago. If you want to walk only the final 100km of the Camino Frances that would probably mean starting at Ferreiros - which is not easy to reach by public transport. That's why most people start in Sarria which is about 118km from Santiago but easier to get to. If you are intending to skip a large chunk of the CF anyway you could consider a different route altogether: the Primitivo from Lugo is almost exactly 100km, and the Inglés from Ferrol is about the same distance as from Sarria but a quieter and (in my opinion) more interesting route.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#5
If you want to walk only the final 100km of the Camino Frances that would probably mean starting at Ferreiros - which is not easy to reach by public transport.
A taxi from Sarria to Ferreiros is under 30E, so you can actually start just before the 100km mark. Get a sello at Ferreiros and one more that day, and two each day thereafter, and you will not have a problem getting the compostela. I know from actual experience!!
 

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Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
#6
OK @Vaughan Bell you've been given some concrete. Now let's get to the softer stuff... Have you considered bag transport, chucking away half your stuff, changing your footwear? If this was a pre-existing condition what was your plan and why hasn't it worked?
I've walked with a dodgy back on a diet of Orujo and Pilgrim Candy (500mg NSAIDs) but I don't recommend it.
You've come a long way, in more ways than one, so what was it you wanted? A bit of paper or a Camino?
 

trecile

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aug - Sept (2016) SJPDP - Finisterre
July - Aug (2017) SJPDP - Muxia - Finisterre
#7
Even if you aren't able to walk the 100 km from Sarria you won't go home empty handed. You still have your credential with stamps from the places that you've passed through. To me, it's a much better reminder of the Camino.
 
Camino(s) past & future
May - June 2018
#8
OK @Vaughan Bell you've been given some concrete. Now let's get to the softer stuff... Have you considered bag transport, chucking away half your stuff, changing your footwear? If this was a pre-existing condition what was your plan and why hasn't it worked?
I've walked with a dodgy back on a diet of Orujo and Pilgrim Candy (500mg NSAIDs) but I don't recommend it.
You've come a long way, in more ways than one, so what was it you wanted? A bit of paper or a Camino?
The intention was “a Camino” but we really only had 3 weeks and knew that we could not do the whole journey so had to plan around which stages to skip. Unrealistic to get a 1 month & a bit holiday from work!! But, as always, life likes to throw it’s curve balls and I thought after 6 months of back strengthening at the gym and 2 months practicing with the backpack would be ok. However, one broken walking pole (had 2) and a few slippy loose stones on the steep descent on the way to Estella proved a bridge too far for the lower back. Have ditched some stuff (5 kg) and now under 10 kg for the backpack. In my opinion, I have to do the last 100 km for The Compostela, otherwise, a wasted trip regardless of whether it is for “a Camino or Certificate”.
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
#10
@Vaughan Bell my sympathies. Camino can be a pretty hard place. If you can make that 118 km or thereabouts from Sarria on foot you can hold your head up and claim the Compostella that you will have earned. Those are the requirements - walk, at least 100 contiguous Km to the tomb of Santiago with religious intent or with a searching heart ( I paraphrase). I won't ask your motivations: thats between you and Himself. And please be minded that the "whole journey" is only from where it starts to where it finishes. There is no "start" to Camino only an end.
Take it slow, take it careful, and be easy on yourself.
Buen camino
 

davebugg

DustOff: "When I have your wounded."
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#11
......In my opinion, I have to do the last 100 km for The Compostela, otherwise, a wasted trip regardless of whether it is for “a Camino or Certificate”.
If my sole reason for a pilgrimage is a Compostela, and if not obtained then would consider the pilgrimage as a wasted trip, I would feel empty inside. To me, the pilgrimage itself is the transformative event, not a piece of paper. Believe me, I can understand wanting a Compostela as tangible documentation of a goal reached. But if I placed a Compostela above the actual experience of the Pilgrimage, then I would actually be devaluing what the Compostela represents to me.

Consider that the Compostela is given for making "the pilgrimage for religious or spiritual reasons, or at least an attitude of search." In other words, the Compostela is not the purpose of a pilgrimage; instead, it is the attitude of the pilgrim while on the pilgrimage which allows a Compostela to be issued.

Please, do not consider all that you have done and all you have been through to be a wasted trip without a Compostela. You have gained a tremendous amount -- despite the negatives -- if you consider the macro view rather than the micro view.

Take care, Vaughan. I hope and pray that things will be a blessing for you as you continue. :)
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#12
If the truth be known, a lot of pilgrims receive a compostela without walking the last 100km. I have seen them on buses and in taxis. The rules speak to the last 100km on foot, but the document does not say that. It is about :

to all the Faithful and pilgrims who arrive from anywhere on the Orb of the Earth with an attitude of devotion or because of a vow or promise make a pilgrimage to the Tomb of the Apostle, Our Patron Saint and Protector of Spain, recognises before all who observe this document that: …………… has devotedly visited this most sacred temple with Christian sentiment (pietatis causa).

That pietatis causa is the operative thought for a pilgrimage.

You have a lot of kilometers under your belt. I think that it is up to you whether you abide by the rule that the 100km must be the continuous last 100km. I think that you get to decide the ethics of applying for the compostela. After all, you can get a plenary indulgence if you are Catholic for just visiting the tomb and doing a few other very Catholic things. You clearly would qualify as a cheater, but you won't be the first (or the last), and you get to decide the ethics. A middle ground is the completion certificate that gives a lot of latitude on motivation and continuity. Just say you walked for athletic reasons and take the completion certificate!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugués (June 2018)
#13
In my opinion, I have to do the last 100 km for The Compostela, otherwise, a wasted trip regardless of whether it is for “a Camino or Certificate”.
I completely understand your desire to obtain the compostela, and applaud you for "sticking to your guns" on that point, to whatever extent is best for you, physically, mentally, and spiritually.

While there are often others who are quick to toss out their opinions on what a "real" camino experience is, or perhaps why a piece of paper is meaningless relative to the grand journey, what makes your camino special to you is all that matters. I understand the frustration that comes with pain and setbacks, and a desire to "accomplish" any given thing as part of your camino. For me, while I certainly look forward to the entire experience, there are one or two things in particular that I feel call out to me. And, if I could do nothing more, I would do everything I could to be able to experience those.

And just because I believe that one particular part of the camino would be especially fulfilling, or because I feel that missing out on that one experience would be the part I might regret most, that does not mean the rest of the journey is meaningless. Just because someone else says they would feel empty inside, given a particular set of circumstances, that does not mean you have any reason to feel anything other than the satisfaction you get from whatever you choose to make of your camino.

In the end, you may or may not find a particular sense of fulfillment from holding that piece of paper in your hand. You may wipe the sweat off your brow, chuckle to yourself, and stuff it in your sack with little care, having come to some realization that it is less important to you than some bracelet, wine label, photo or even rock which you grabbed as a memento days or weeks prior. But, if you believe it is worth pursuing, and you are reasonably able to do so, there is no reason to return home with that regret, or that nagging thought in the back of your mind, wondering about something you left behind and may never be able to experience.

Whatever you decide,
Buen Camino!
 
Camino(s) past & future
'
#14
If the truth be known, a lot of pilgrims receive a compostela without walking the last 100km. I have seen them on buses and in taxis. The rules speak to the last 100km on foot, but the document does not say that.
Aren't you stirring the ants' nest here? :cool:

The Compostela text actually does say so. The fact that nobody, including the Oficina del Peregrino in Santiago on their website, bothers to update the translations from Latin into modern languages is proof to me how little the actual text matters to anyone. It's all good as long as it looks pretty and ancient and traditional and in Latin. I cannot be the only person who can read Latin. See quote from an earlier forum post:

The 100 km are stated explicitly in the current (2016-2018) version of the Compostela which contains the lines perfecto itinere sive pedibus sive equitando post postrema centum milia metrorum, birota vero post ducenta pietatis causa, devote visitasse.
On foot or riding after one hundred thousand meters, however by bicycle after two hundred thousand meters, for religious reasons and as a devout visitor. [One hundred thousand meters = 100 km]
But I largely agree, pietatis causa ought be the operative thought of a Santiago pilgrimage and the apostle ought to be central to it, and by golly, is that concept stretched by so many. So why one cannot stretch the last 100 km on foot concept, too, is beyond my kind of logic. It seems to be the one of lesser importance. :cool:
 
Last edited:

davebugg

DustOff: "When I have your wounded."
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#15
.....Just because someone else says they would feel empty inside, given a particular set of circumstances, that does not mean you have any reason to feel anything other than the satisfaction you get from whatever you choose to make of your camino.
That's not what was said or meant.

I do not mind that what I have written in a post has a counterpoint directed at it, but I do mind when that counterpoint is neither based on the actual, accurate context of a post, or is not a true reflection of what I have written.

Certainly no one posting to this thread was pooh-poohing the desire for obtaining a Compostela. What was being said in this thread, and in my post, was an encouragement for the OP that much has been accomplished, even if a Compostela is not a part of the picture. That no one would look at what he did as a waste of time with or without a Compostela. The posts in this thread have been proffered in hopes of helping to lift spirits of someone who seems upset and discouraged.
 
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Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
#16
The Compostela text actually does say so. ... The fact that nobody, including the Oficina del Peregrino in Santiago on their website, bothers to update the translations from Latin into modern languages is proof to me how little the actual text matters to anyone.
Thanks @Kathar1na for pointing this out. I can still remember enough Latin to make some sense of the text but I was so familiar with the old sepia Compostela that I never bothered to read the text of the newer version. There in front of me all the time! :) My first Camino predated the 100km rule and I had a serious theological grilling to establish the 'in pietatis causa' part but no one mentioned distances or questioned me about using taxis!
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances: 2013, 2014
Madrid: 2016
Portuguese: 2015, 2017
Invierno: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2017
#17
The intention was “a Camino” but we really only had 3 weeks and knew that we could not do the whole journey so had to plan around which stages to skip. Unrealistic to get a 1 month & a bit holiday from work!! But, as always, life likes to throw it’s curve balls and I thought after 6 months of back strengthening at the gym and 2 months practicing with the backpack would be ok. However, one broken walking pole (had 2) and a few slippy loose stones on the steep descent on the way to Estella proved a bridge too far for the lower back. Have ditched some stuff (5 kg) and now under 10 kg for the backpack. In my opinion, I have to do the last 100 km for The Compostela, otherwise, a wasted trip regardless of whether it is for “a Camino or Certificate”.
This has been an interesting thread. Included above are a multitude of ways to cut corners and only walk the absolute bare minimum distance to earn the Compostela. But, and as some have observed, this is only an issue if the Compostela is your goal. I have done six Caminos, but have four Compostelas. I know when I have had to cut corners due to injuries and have not earned the Compostela. It is a nice thing to have, but not the sole purpose of the journey.

Having worked as a volunteer in the Pilgrim Office for the four past summers, and I am scheduled to be there again this July - August, I have an alternative idea. It builds on the idea that the Camino is a state of mind, not a relay race where you must 'get your ticket punched' or credencial stamped.

There are two primary certificates available at the Pilgrim Office to pilgrims who arrive there, having traveled on a Camino route. The first, and most discussed, is the Compostela. The Compostela is discussed all over this Forum and above. SO, you likely understand that, to qualify, you must have walked the FINAL 100 km of any Camino route into Santiago de Compostela. Also, you must have 2 sellos per day to document this fact. Before the 100 km mark, a single sello daily suffices to establish your line of march and progress.

Here is a link to the official Pilgrim Office web page discussing the Compostela:

https://oficinadelperegrino.com/en/pilgrimage/the-compostela/

The SECOND and rarely mentioned certificate is the Certificate of Welcome. This similarly appearing certificate is issued to anyone who completes the Camino, with the requisite number of sellos in their credencial, but who states they accomplished the Camino for a sport or tourist purpose as opposed to a religious or spiritual reason.

The certificate itself is similarly attractive. However, the text is different. While the Compostela uses text that has been used for about 850 years (+/-), the Welcome Certificate acknowledges the pilgrims journey to visit and or venerate the relics of the Apostle St. James the Greater at the Cathedral.

THERE IS A THIRD CERTIFICATE, available to any pilgrim who visits the Basilica of Saint James. It is called the Cathedral Visitor Certificate. Again, a very nice document that resembles the Compostela and Welcome Certificates. The text is in Castellano (Spanish) instead of Latin. However, it does not carry any of the distance or sello requirements of the first two documents.

You MAY have to seek a Cathedral Visitor Certificate at the Cathedral proper, but you should try the Pilgrim Office first. With all the renovation work going on, some activities have been interrupted or relocated. I do not know where these visitor certificates are being issued at present.

So, you have options.

Hope this helps you make the correct choice for you.
 
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David Tallan

Active Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - central from Oporto (2018 - planned)
#18
Everyone walks their own Camino. I'm not going to second guess @Vaughan Bell when he says the priority for his Camino is fulfilling the requirements to get a compostella. My priorities may be different, but I am a different person with different experiences and challenges and I'm not the one asking the question.

As many have said, the requirements for the compostela are pretty simple: walk the last 100 km (it doesn't matter what you've done before that) and demonstrate that with a credential stamped at least twice a day for that distance.

It seems to me that the most fruitful advice is to consider what gives you the best chance of achieving that: Some things to consider:
- As has been mentioned, lightening your backpack is good. Not carrying it at all may increase your chances of maintaining your health while achieving your goal of a compostela. Nowhere in the requirements does it say that you have to carry anything.
- Sarria is 118 km away. A taxi or switching to a different route may get you to a starting point closer to the 100 km mark.
- You may also want to look at how much time you have and how quickly you can get to the 100 km mark. The more days you have to walk the last 100 km, the less you have to walk each day and the less stress you are putting on your body. I know someone from our local Camino group who walks the last 100 km averaging about 5 km a day because that's what she can manage. I know you don't have enough time for that, but you may be able to shorten the daily distance somewhat.
- I'm not sure how much hills and inclines are a challenge for you. My recollection is that the last 100 km of the Frances weren't too bad. The big climbs up to O Cebreiro and down to Triacastela are further back. Others might be able to say if the last 100 km on different routes might be even flatter.

Ultreia!
 
Camino(s) past & future
May - June 2018
#19
The Certificate of Welcome is the most appropriate Certificate for me I believe. Didn’t receive an “relevations” along the way so far or sense of spiritual enlightenment (even though prayed for it). So, that’s all cool. Thanks for the clear advice. Cheers!
 

trecile

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aug - Sept (2016) SJPDP - Finisterre
July - Aug (2017) SJPDP - Muxia - Finisterre
#20
The Certificate of Welcome is the most appropriate Certificate for me I believe. Didn’t receive an “relevations” along the way so far or sense of spiritual enlightenment (even though prayed for it). So, that’s all cool. Thanks for the clear advice. Cheers!
For me too. I asked for the "non-Compestela" Certificate of Welcome when I completed my first Camino and didn't realize until after my second Camino the next year when the certificate that I received was different than the first, that I had been given an unasked for Compestela. I'm not sure why, as I answered that I didn't walk for religious or spiritual reasons.
 
Camino(s) past & future
May - June 2018
#21
Just one last query. We are arriving in Santiago on the 28th May and have pre-booked accommodation. May sound like a stupid question, but are we required to go to the Pilgrims Office near the Cathedral to claim the certificate (in my case the Welcome Certificate) on the day of arrival? OR can we simply crash at our hotel and go the following day as we will probably be arriving after 5 pm and be a bit tired.
 

WGroleau

Wandering Weirdo
Camino(s) past & future
2015 & 2016 (partial)
#22
THERE IS A THIRD CERTIFICATE, available to any pilgrim who visits the Basilica of Saint James. It is called the Cathedral Visitor Certificate. Again, a very nice document that resembles the Compostela and Welcome Certificates. The text is in Castellano (Spanish) instead of Latin. However, it does not carry any of the distance or sello requirements of the first two documents.
AND (last but not least?), if you don't want to stand in line for however long to get a certificate, you can go to a separate desk where the line is very short, and just get another sello—proof that you arrived. That was sufficient for me. in fact, I know I arrived even without it, but I figured there's a possibility some family memberr might want to see it some day.

The certificate doesn't mean much to me, because I know that a lot of people get a credential stamped and then walk back to their car parked just out of sight to go off to the next stamp.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances: 2013, 2014
Madrid: 2016
Portuguese: 2015, 2017
Invierno: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2017
#23
Yes, you are correct. If ALL YOU WANT is a sello / stamp to prove you got to Santiago:

1. Present yourself to the security guard or volunteer working the queue at the front door to the Pilgrim Office.

2. Show your pilgrim credencial, and tell him/her that you desire only a sello (Quiero solo sello! - I want only a sello).

3. They will direct you to pass straight into the courtyard (with the four trees and bypassing the line for a Compostela), and to turn RIGHT at the fountain.

4. Just inside the door ahead of you, to the right (the exit door from the Compostela process) there is a single cashier booth. The staff member there will affix the official Cathedral sell to your credential, thus closing it out for further Camino use.

5. There is no charge for this service...

Hope this helps.
 

trecile

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aug - Sept (2016) SJPDP - Finisterre
July - Aug (2017) SJPDP - Muxia - Finisterre
#24
Just one last query. We are arriving in Santiago on the 28th May and have pre-booked accommodation. May sound like a stupid question, but are we required to go to the Pilgrims Office near the Cathedral to claim the certificate (in my case the Welcome Certificate) on the day of arrival? OR can we simply crash at our hotel and go the following day as we will probably be arriving after 5 pm and be a bit tired.
No, you don't have to go the same day that you arrive.
 


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