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Ecumenism on the Camino?


New Member
A friend of mine, who is Jewish, is thinking of doing the Camino next summer. What should he expect? Is the Camino such a unique Christian experience that someone of another faith would feel "on the outside?" Would the spiritual fellowship among pilgrims in the refugios be too exclusively Christian for a Jew to get the full experience?

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William Marques

Staff member

The door is open to all, to sick and healthy,
not only to Catholics but also to pagans,
Jews, heretics and vagabonds.

These lines taken from a thirteenth century Latin poem in praise of the Monastery of Roncesvalles show that the Camino has welcomed all people for a very long time.

I would not worry what religion you are, part of the joy of the camino is the mixing of people from many different backgrounds, languages and opinions. Of course the ultimate goal is Christian but the journey which is 99% of it can be understood and undertaken by anyone.

It's clearly within a Christian tradition, but the Camino is walked by people of many different beliefs, and of none. In fact, I would say one of the striking things is how different pilgrims' beliefs are, from the conventionally religious to the decidedly esoteric. Only a small %age are conventionally pious in the Roman Catholic sense, attending mass every day for example. The overwhelming majority claim to have a spiritual motivation when getting their compostela, but no-one checks on what they actually mean by that - there is no test ;)

As to whether your friend would feel 'on the outside', pilgrim comes from Latin peregrinus, a foreigner, stranger, outsider. Pilgrims are supposed to be outsiders, that is what pilgrim means.


Interesting question...

Come to think about it, I haven't met anybody who was walking because of his/her religion. Last year was a holly year and so there was spoken about the forgiveness of all sins... but not with a very strong belief that this was the reason to walk the Camino. It was more like something extra to walk in that year.

Nowadays a lot of people are also walking because of the challenge (both fysical / mental etc) or even sportiv reasons.

Also I've experienced the Camino as a place where every belief / religion come together and go hand in hand. Just as everything else that can be considered opposites in daily life :roll:


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2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Ecumenism on the Camino

You do not have to be a Christian to appreciate the camino just as you do not have to be Hindu or Buddhist to appreciate the Jomosom Trek to Muktinath in Nepal - a Holy site for Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims for thousands of years.
The Shikoku (88 Buddhist Temple) pilgrimage on the Japanese island is also growing in popularity with Westerners.
The camino is walked by Catholics, Protestants, atheists, agnostics, secular-humanists, Buddhist etc etc.,
Pope John Paul desribed the Camino as a "path of Ecumenical fraternity" and that is exactly what it is.
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