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FICS Forum: Why Change the 100 km. rule to 300 km.?

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Camino(s) past & future
2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017,2018, (2019)
@SEB and @Anenome del Camino, I will retire to bed thinking about your comments about the practice/implications of people repeating the Camino multiple times. Given my personal track-record, it may take me a while to get to sleep tonight.
 
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@SEB and @Anenome del Camino, I will retire to bed thinking about your comments about the practice/implications of people repeating the Camino multiple times. Given my personal track-record, it may take me a while to get to sleep tonight.

I am mortified by the thought of your losing sleep because of anything I have posted. Much of my last post was being tongue in cheek but a serious realisation that I am adding to the pressures because of wanting to walk the Camino again. Also, I thank you for working as a 'Ditch-pig' with Rebecca last year. That is certainly giving something back to the Camino and we could all learn from your example.

With regard to the idea of changing the distance from 100kms, there is another reason why that cannot happen. The minimum starting point on the Camino Portuguese 'qualifying' pilgrims for a compostela is Tui, and I don't expect that the many Spanish pilgrims who leave from there every year would accept a change, not least because it is such an iconic place being just across the river from Portugal. But perhaps it is worth considering why Tui onwards is not suffering the density - and associated problems - of pilgrims ... or is it?
 
Camino(s) past & future
2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017,2018, (2019)
I am mortified by the thought of your losing sleep because of anything I have posted. Much of my last post was being tongue in cheek but a serious realisation that I am adding to the pressures because of wanting to walk the Camino again. Also, I thank you for working as a 'Ditch-pig' with Rebecca last year. That is certainly giving something back to the Camino and we could all learn from your example.

With regard to the idea of changing the distance from 100kms, there is another reason why that cannot happen. The minimum starting point on the Camino Portuguese 'qualifying' pilgrims for a compostela is Tui, and I don't expect that the many Spanish pilgrims who leave from there every year would accept a change, not least because it is such an iconic place being just across the river from Portugal. But perhaps it is worth considering why Tui onwards is not suffering the density - and associated problems - of pilgrims ... or is it?

@SEB, I slept like a log last night + so I hope your latest post began in a t-in-c fashion, too. Your kind words about my ditch-pig exploits are appreciated, but the real thanks should be directed elsewhere.

Re the density/problems from Tui question, I walked Tui -> SdC at the start of June last year and my experience was that there was plenty of spare capacity in the albergues where I stayed. I would imagine the Frances route to be far busier at the same time of year, so maybe it's a case that one is promoted more than the other.
 

soozansings

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
June 2nd (2016)
Being a practicing Catholic, it is intriguing that so much is being made out of a document that has no direct meaning to people that are not Christians. If the paper is not an issue for so many people, set a stack of Compostelas in front of the pilgrim office and let anyone that walks by have one and fill it in themselves. If, as a Christian, you want to get a formal document from the Church to evidence you have come to Santiago on pilgrimage, let the Pilgrim Office provide that separately.

But, as has been discussed before, if the real issue is large, organized groups of pilgrims traveling together, not carrying their own belongings, address those issues.
Outlaw the pack transport services if you like. Or don't allow group reservations/holding of beds in any municipal or donativo albergues.

Having said that, our church is considering taking a group of teens on a Camino, which could become logistically challenging...

But Spain has had a very difficult last decade, and it is hard to see that Galicia and other parts of the Way have not gotten much needed revenue from pilgrims/tourists. If a private individual wants to renovate a building in Galicia and open a refugio, it seems that they are providing more needed jobs and income into the Spanish economy. There is so much unemployment in Galicia, it seems wrong to stifle the little money coming from the party peregrinos.

Personally, I don't think the Compostela is the driver of the crowds as much as it is of the limited time people have to go on pilgrimage. Make the piece of paper easily obtainable and see what happens to the crowds.

Rambler
I'm not a Catholic but I am a Christian. Technically, doesn't the word "catholic" mean "universal"?
 

fraluchi

RIP 2019
Camino(s) past & future
One every year since 2007
Aren't most people victims of the Camino(s)' popularity!?:eek:
 

Lance Chambers

Lance Chambers
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria (2015), SJPdP (2016), Burgos (2017), SJPdP (2018), Burgos (2019), SJPdP (2020?).
... we want our annual walk in the spring or fall, when temperatures are pleasant, not making financial sacrifices, not putting our lives on hold to do this pilgrimage, not over exerting ourselves, etc.

Would we still be "feel the Camino calling" if it called with a much higher cost? What if 3, 4, whatever number of weeks on our "pilgrimage" cost the same as the same number of weeks in other tourist destinations? Would we still "feel the call" and claim we are really walking in Spain for "religious and/or spiritual reasons"?

I believe, given the cost of airfares for many of us, for the costs of getting to the start of your Camino, wherever it is, and getting home can be very high for some people.

Also there are still a lot of 'pilgrims' who go out and purchase top gear to do the Camino as if it's a fashion parade/competition to see who spent the most on their designer equipment as if it makes them more 'professional' or better walkers.

The $ costs can still be high even if the actual time and $ cost on the Camino itself isn't.

If you are a tourist/pilgrim why should the Camino be a 'pain in the butt'? No reason.

Way back when any pilgrimage was difficult, hard, dangerous, the food was awful, the sanitary conditions were atrocious, raging rivers had to be forded, wild animals abounded, thieves and murders were around every corner and if none of those killed you then your own bad health probably would.

Today we've moved on from there and that's great. Why would ANYONE suggest, for even a moment, that we should return to the bad old days even for a worn out traditions sake?

Ancient realities made pilgrimages a pain. Not needed today. Move on.
 

Lance Chambers

Lance Chambers
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria (2015), SJPdP (2016), Burgos (2017), SJPdP (2018), Burgos (2019), SJPdP (2020?).
@SEB and @Anenome del Camino, I will retire to bed thinking about your comments about the practice/implications of people repeating the Camino multiple times. Given my personal track-record, it may take me a while to get to sleep tonight.

If you love it then live it.
 

Lance Chambers

Lance Chambers
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria (2015), SJPdP (2016), Burgos (2017), SJPdP (2018), Burgos (2019), SJPdP (2020?).
Well, if I google the definition I see "with firm belief" "with assurance or confidence" ... If I gogle further Oxford dictionary says "used to show you are almost certain of what you are saying and want other people to agree with you". Also "used with a negative to show that something surprises you and you do not want to believe it"

Surely I know how to use the word. Thank you.


I think that jozero was thinking of the word 'surly' rather than 'surely'?
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
Reading again through the proposal, I remember that I wanted to ask this before:


Is this really correct?

Well, yeah. The person who wrote it is a respected historian, an expert on Galician pilgrimage history. So I think we can believe it. Gallegos had (and have) a web of pilgrimage routes that date to prehistory. (a remarkable number of shrines there are dedicated to St. Andrew, not James!) When the Santiago thing occurred, it grew up fast and furious and way beyond the local purview and mindset -- it was a calculated political stroke, a remarkably successful one! It's just another of the extraordinary things about this particular pilgrimage.
 
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Well, yeah. The person who wrote it is a respected historian, an expert on Galician pilgrimage history. So I think we can believe it.
Thanks. Is this person Anton Pombo? In the meantime, I have discovered a book written by Richard A. Fletcher. I've never heard of him before but apparently he was an Oxford medievalist with Spain as focus of research. His book on Saint James's Catapult: The Life and Times of Diego Gelmírez of Santiago de Compostela is available online http://libro.uca.edu/sjc/sjc.htm . It has more details about the time before the boom, ie before Diego Gelmirez, "one of the more remarkable ecclesiastical operators of his age, who, having become Bishop of Santiago de Compostela in 1101, managed to have himself made a papal legate and turned his remote Galician town into the destination of pilgrims from across Europe". The rise to prominence of this site is a fascinating story in any case.
 
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Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
Yes, the person who wrote the FICS paper is Anton Pombo. And thanks for reminding me of the Catapult book. Yet another thing I gotta read!
 

bunnymac

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2012 SJPP-Logrono, 2013 Logrono-Burgos, 2014 Burgos-Leon
CF August/September 2016 SJPP- Santiago
Might I suggest that if travellers are hell bent on having there Compostela as proof of pilgrimage at the end of their journey that FCIS awards different coloured sellos depending on distance travelled to Santiago. If you walk the minimum of 100km + you get one colour, 200km+ another &c. This system may be a way to remind people of the significance of their journey?
For me, I love the walk, I love my passport as memento, each stamp reminding me of a different time or person. I have no religious bent or belief so my camino is not completed for religious pilgrimage, or the receipt of a Compostela for that matter
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
It was meant to be positive. I was suggesting that of the people that I know on this forum, you have been prepared to follow paths that involved much higher costs, not just financial, on your pilgrimages.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
Into the mix comes the announcement that a sailing pilgrimage (see this thread) , not ending in Santiago but in a Galician port, will also qualify for a compostela.

Maybe giving out compostelas for arriving at places other than Santiago is another way of reducing the pressure on the last 100km. I seem to remember someone talking about a certificate for arriving at Oviedo.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
I've just re-read the thread on the sailing pilgrimage; I had assumed that it would be by "sailing boat" - i.e. non-motorised transport, requiring some skill and effort. But I see on closer reading that I am wrong.

Perhaps the answer is the pressure on the last 100 km is the reverse of that suggested by FICS - just give the certificate to anyone who journeys to Santiago, regardless of means of doing so.
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
I read this and wondered if the sailing pilgrims then walk in from Muxia or Coruña, as they would have done in the past. Under 100kms walking but qualified by the 150 nautical miles sailing along the northern Spanish coast and the various named marinas. Not very big boats/yachts will fit in them so skill and hard work will be needed still, plus coping with the elements on a sometimes difficult coast. We have a sailing friend and this might have been a possibility for her when she was more active.
 
A

AJ

Guest
Perhaps the answer is the pressure on the last 100 km is the reverse of that suggested by FICS - just give the certificate to anyone who journeys to Santiago, regardless of means of doing so.

If the purpose of the pilgrimage, in the eyes of the Church, is to visit the tomb of St James and perform some religious exercises, then it really shouldn't matter how a pilgrim travels to Santiago.
 
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Twentieth-century “National Catholicism” manipulated the Compostela pilgrimage, focusing the faithful on arriving at the goal. The Way itself was downplayed [...] The first Spanish association formed in Estella in the 1960s with the involvement of Paco Beruete and Eusebio Goicoechea, and registered itself in 1973. They delved into the study of the Jacobean pilgrimage as part of the Medieval Weeks festival in Estella, with their eyes always trained on the 11th and 12th-century "golden age" they hoped may someday revive.
The history of the modern pilgrimage is not quite as fascinating as the medieval one but it has its moments ;). I've just read an article by Lynn Talbot ("Revival of the medieval past") which covers the time from the 1930s to 1960s and presents quite a different view. The article also let me to a detailed description of a pilgrimage by members of the Estella association from Roncesvalles to Santiago in 22 etapas. I was intrigued to see that they used luggage transport in 1963 :):
From Clipboard.jpg
 

Thomas Fitzgerald

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
none in the past. I leave February 24,2015
Dear friends, the Fraternidad Internacional del Camino de Santiago, an activist group comprised of historians, sociologists, hospitaleros, and camino busybodies, last weekend met in Sarria to debate the latest issues and decide how to solve some problems.
Most of you know that one of our more controversial proposals is petitioning the cathedral to extend the 100 km. required to earn a Compostela certificate to 300 kilometers. Everyone asks why.
So I translated (pretty awkwardly in places, I know!) the explanatory document, a paper written by Anton Pombo, a camino historian who has lived much of the current renaissance on the trail -- he was one of the first to paint yellow arrows to Finesterre. This document was presented to the cathedral dean and cabildo last week. It has NOT been approved or put into effect!


PROPOSAL TO EXPAND THE MINIMUM DISTANCE REQUIRED FOR AWARDING OF THE COMPOSTELA to 300 KILOMETERS


THE GENESIS OF THE ROAD

Since its inception, the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela was never a short-term undertaking. It was not a local or regional shrine that gradually gained fame through popular acclaim and miracles. On the contrary, it sprang into being with fully-formed international appeal: It led to the officially recognized apostolic tomb of Santiago the Greater. It managed to bring together not only Christian rites and symbols, but incorporated practices of past cults as well, as evidenced by legends of the translation of James’ body and the possible Celtic pilgrimage to Finisterre.

Alfonso II the Chaste, King of Asturias and Galicia, made the first political pilgrimage to Santiago after the rediscovery or "inventio" of the tomb between AD 820 and 830. The first documented pilgrims appeared in the 10th century from beyond the Pyrenees, devotees from from Germany and France, but we do not know their itinerary.

By the 11th century the “French route” along the Meseta was already established as a long-distance roadway to and from Europe, equipped with a network of pilgrim shelters. The pilgrimage to Santiago took its place alongside Jerusalem and Rome as one of the three great classic treks of Christianity. Santiago stood at the western end of the known world, following the direction the sun in the day and the Milky Way in the night. For pure symbolic value, Santiago surpassed Jerusalem and Rome. The Jacobean legend spread through Europe in the tales of Compostela in the times of Bishop Gelmirez, and above all, in the Codex Calixtinus. The universal dimension of this pilgrimage shines through medieval literature, inspiring works like the Historia Caroli Magni et Rotholandi or “Pseudo Turpin.” This book recounts the exploits of King Charlemagne, whose army supposedly opened the Camino pathway, guided by a sweep of stars all the way to Compostela and the ocean beyond.

The same tone was maintained into the late Middle Ages, despite the Reformation. The Counter-Reformation infused the pilgrimage with a focus on Catholic dogma. Walking to Santiago became a visible, living profession of religious faith. Pilgrims trickled in from all over the world. Centuries passed, but the Way of Santiago never lost its international character.

DECLINE AND REBIRTH OF THE PILGRIMAGE

But over time, the triumph of Liberal thought and the overwhelming idea of progress consigned the ancient pilgrimage path to a relic, something anachronistic and meaningless, reserved for vagrants and beggars. By the 19th century, the Compostela pilgrimage was practically extinct.

Other European Christian shrines and pilgrimages enjoyed a limited success, so archbishops Payá y Rico and Martin Herrera sought to stir up a new public religious devotion to St. James. The relics of the apostle were re-discovered after 300 years, so the local authorities tried to revitalize the pilgrimage with their meager means, using local processions and day-trips to Santiago as well as other holy sites, to at least keep the flame burning.

These local “romerias” became popular throughout Spain, upholding regional pride but thwarting the idea of traditional pilgrimage on foot. Twentieth-century “National Catholicism” manipulated the Compostela pilgrimage, focusing the faithful on arriving at the goal. The Way itself was downplayed, and the old walking routes were practically forgotten.

When the European Postwar intellectual and social crisis struck in the 1950s, it was foreigners, not Spaniards, who rediscovered the value of the pilgrimage. The Paris Society of Friends of the Camino was founded in 1950, with the Marquis Rene de La Coste-Messelière, among those who took the first timid steps.

The first Spanish association formed in Estella in the 1960s with the involvement of Paco Beruete and Eusebio Goicoechea, and registered itself in 1973. They delved into the study of the Jacobean pilgrimage as part of the Medieval Weeks festival in Estella, with their eyes always trained on the 11th and 12th-century "golden age" they hoped may someday revive.

This same historicist and romantic spirit, with the Codex Calixtinus as the main reference, is what inspired Elijah Valiña Sampedro, a man misunderstood in his time, to conceive the idea of revitalizing the foot pilgrimage on the French Way. Not beginning from Sarria, his own birthplace, nor from the Galician frontier, despite his being the pastor of St. Mary of O Cebreiro, Don Elias took the long view. He traced the most direct route to Compostela, gradually joining section to other sections. He understood from the beginning the Way in its original sense, as a geographic whole. Thus, with the collaboration of different people all along the route, he went to work to recover and mark with yellow arrows the better-known and documented French Way, from the Pyrenees to Compostela. He cooperated closely with the French, who did the same with France’s great historic routes, described in the famous guide book V of Calixtino: Tours, Vézelay, Le Puy and Arles.

Thus was reborn the Camino de Santiago in the 70s and 80s of the last century, with the utmost respect for history and tradition. The French Way was recovered first, and the remaining historical itineraries soon followed. It was an exemplary process, performed selflessly from the bottom up with the support and generosity of associations of Friends of the Camino de Santiago, which multiplied since the 80s. The Amigos groups’ first major achievement was the International Congress of Associations of Jaca (1987), chaired by Elias Valiña as Commissioner of the Way. A new credential was established, drawn from a prototype from Estella, to serve as a safe-conduct to contemporary pilgrims, allowing the use of pilgrim accommodations. No minimum distance was established to claim a Compostela at the Cathedral.

FROM THE XACOBEO TO NOW

The year 1993 was a Holy Year, and pilgrims poured into the shrine city. The regional government of Galicia rolled out "Xacobeo," a secular, promotional program that claimed to “parallel” the religious celebration while developing advertising campaigns and marketing strategies. The Xacobeo slogan, "All the Way," summed-up its fundamental objective: to transform the Camino de Santiago into a great cultural and tourist brand for Galicia, and squeeze the maximum benefit from a tourist phenomenon ripe with possibilities for community development. It was at this point that the still-incipient mileage requirement of the Compostela was set at 100 km.

The "All the Way" and 100 km idea, despite Galicia’s good-faith construction of a public network of free shelters, immediately created tensions with the plan developed by Valiña and the worldwide Jacobean associations. The minimum distance, which fit perfectly into the plans of the Xunta de Galicia to “begin and end the Camino in Galicia,” ended up creating a distorted image of what and where the Camino de Santiago is, a distortion that appears now to be unstoppable, and threatens to undermine and trivialize the traditional sense of the Compostela pilgrimage. For many, the pilgrimage is understood only as a four- or five-day stroll through Galicia – a reductionist view antagonistic to the historical sense of the great European pilgrimage tradition.

This distortion has contributed to the ongoing transformation of the road into a tourist product. Tour operators and travel agencies offer the credential and Compostela as marketing tools, souvenirs that reward tourists and trekkers who walk four or five days of the road without any idea of pilgrimage, using and monopolizing the network of low-cost hostels intended for pilgrims. The consequence of this abuse is the same seen at by many sites of significant cultural heritage: the progressive conversion of the monument or site to a “decaffeinated” product of mass tourism. It is a theme park stripped of “boring” interpretive information from historians or literary scholars, suitable for the rapid entertainment of the new, illiterate traveler unable to see any value in an experience that is not immediately recognizable and familiar. The consumer cannot enjoy an experience that requires preparation, training, and time, so the marketers provide him with a cheap and easy “Camino Lite” experience. Likewise, even as the Camino is commodified, its precious, intangible heritage of interpersonal generosity and simplicity is lost. Without this “pilgrim spirit,” the Camino’s monumental itinerary becomes a mere archaeological stage-set.

In recent years, the number of pilgrims from Sarria, Tui, Lugo, Ourense, Ferrol and other places just beyond the 100 km required to obtain the Compostela, has grown steadily, according to data provided by the Pilgrimage Office of the Cathedral of Santiago. The true number of “short haul” pilgrims is, according to studies prepared by the Observatory of the Camino de Santiago USC, much higher. More than 260,000 pilgrims registered in 2015, but at least as many again did not register at the cathedral office – they had been on the road without reaching the goal (they ran out of time) or they did not collect the Compostela due to lack of interest or knowledge. Many of these unregistered "pilgrims" respond the low-cost tourist or hiker profile.

According to figures for 2015, of the 262,516 pilgrims who collected the Compostela, 90.19% arrived on foot. More than a quarter left from Sarria (25.68%, more than double the number who left from St. Jean-Pied-de-Port, a traditional starting point 500 km. away in France). Another 5.25% walked from Tui; 3.94% came from O Cebreiro (151 km); Ferrol 3.31%; 2.17% from Valenca do Minho; 1.17% from Lugo; Ourense 1.09%; 0.84% to 0.57% from Triacastela and Samos, to name the next major starting points. Add up all these “short haul” pilgrims, and you see they are 44.02%, almost half of the total. Their numbers rise each year. If we add to this figure those arriving from points far less than 300 km from Santiago de Compostela the number is well over 50% of registered pilgrims.

We are faced with a choice. This “short-trip pilgrim” dynamic is only slowed by foreign pilgrims, who naturally fit better into the traditional role of the long-haul pilgrimage. We can keep silent and give up the Camino to the short-term interests of politicians, developers and agencies seeking only immediate benefit or profits. Or we can resist, try to change the trend, redirect the Camino to its role as an adventure that has little to do with tourism. We can reclaim the long-distance Camino and the values that make it unique: effort, transcendence, searching, reflection, encounters with others, solidarity, ecumenism or spirituality, all of them oriented toward a distant, shared goal.

Some object, noting that long ago, every pilgrim started from his own home, no matter how near or far it was from Santiago. Documentation and history say that Santiago de Compostela was never a place of worship for the Galicians, who had their own shrines and pilgrimages. Outside the pilgrimage, Santiago never had a great relevance for Spaniards, let alone the majority of foreign pilgrims.

The FICS proposal to amend of the Compostela requirements by the Council of the Church of Santiago is not intended to solve at a stroke the problems of the Camino. Requiring a walk of 300 kilometers will not ease the overcrowding on the last sections, or stop the clash between two opposite ways of understanding the pilgrimage. It aims at the symbolic level, and hopes to establish a new understanding of the Way which dovetails with the traditions of the preceding eleven centuries .

1. We hope first to re-establish to dignity of the Compostela, which has lately become an increasingly devalued certificate granted without requirements or agreements attached. It is handed out as a prize or a souvenir at the end of a Camino de Santiago package tour, without a flicker of its religious or spiritual connotation.

2. The contemporary revival of the Camino has made every effort to restore and protect historic pilgrimage routes. The Camino trail is hailed for its cultural interest, and its heritage value is listed by UNESCO. The same care should be exercised should be taken to preserve the practices of the pilgrims on the Santiago trail – the “pilgrim spirit” that forms the Camino’s intangible heritage. Thousands of pilgrims still experience the unity and life-changing power of the trail in its utter simplicity. Their needs cannot be sacrificed to “inevitable concessions to modernity.”

3. Many Gallegos who profit from the Camino see the pilgrimage as a passing phenomenon. They take a short-sighted view of history, and disregard the efforts and claims of neighboring communities of Asturias and Castilla y Leon, and Portugal, all of which have striven to document, retrieve, waymark and revitalize their historic itineraries of the reborn pilgrimage. Despite what Gallego tourist authorities say, the Camino de Santiago does not begin at the Galician border. The road should be treated as a whole, not segmented into independent and disjointed portions, and even less monopolized by the end-point. Even more oddly, ancient camino routes are being marketed as a paths without a goal – a phenomenon apparent in France, or on tributary routes that converge with larger axis, (ie, the Aragonés Camino, Camino del Baztán, San Adrian Tunnel, etc.), sold as "Jacobean routes."

4. This proposed distance is fixed at about three hundred kilometers. This figure is not a random whim – it is drawn from the very first recorded pilgrimage route to Compostela, now known as Camino Primitivo. This is the route taken by the courtiers of Oviedo to the honor the relics of the “Locus Sancti Iacobi,” a distance of 319 km.

Likewise, the 300 km. distance also fits the subsequent 10th century shift of the main pilgrimage axis to the French Way. King Garcia moved his court from Oviedo to Leon, a move confirmed by Ordoño II. Leon is 311 kilometers from Santiago.

Other places linked to the pilgrimage also fit within the scope of this distance: Aviles (320 km), the main medieval port of Asturias, where seaborne pilgrims landed; Zamora (377 km) in the Via de la Plata; Porto (280 km) in the Central Portuguese Way; or the episcopal city of Lamego (290 km) on the Portuguese Way of the Interior.

5. The basis of our proposal is historical: The original geographic triangle of Aviles, Oviedo, Leon. There should therefore not be an arbitrary numerical figure, but a reasonable level of average distance for the traditional pilgrimage on foot, by bicycle or on horseback, in the vicinity of 300 km. This puts the spotlight on the different Jacobean long-distance routes. It meets the needs of contemporary pilgrims for good transportation links and population centers to launch them on their way.

6. The change is not intended to exclude pilgrims whose limited schedules prevent them from walking more than 100 km, an objection that always is posited against increasing the required mileage. The road can be done in stages, at different time periods, or very slowly, all of which are perfectly valid ways to obtain the Compostela.

7. Attempts to divert pilgrims from the overcrowded French Way and Portuguese Route have been unsuccessful, and there are still overcrowding problems on the final, Galician stages, especially from Tui and Sarria onward to Compostela. Municipalities along these roads face serious problems at times of peak pilgrim traffic.

8. The Galician administration’s appropriation of the Camino de Santiago and marketing efforts that describe only the last (Galician) 100 km, have left large areas of Galician Camino “high and dry:” Samos, Triacastela or O Cebreiro, on the French Way; Castroverde, Baleira and A Fonsagrada on the Primitivo; Ribadeo, Lourenzá, Mondoñedo, Abadín and Vilalba on the Northern Way; The whole province of Ourense east of the capital, Allariz, Xinzo, Verin, A Gudina, on the Sanabres Route. The citizens of these camino communities provide the same services to pilgrims, but are unfairly cut from the pilgrimage map by a regional administration so sharply focused on the 100-kilometer radius.

9. The 300-kilometer shift will ease the antagonism that rises up between long-distance pilgrims and those on a “short haul.” Attempts to turn the last stages of the Way into a pure tourist “Disneyland” will be blunted.

10. An exception must be made for the English Way, a route with historical documentation reaching back to the Late Middle Ages. Pilgrims came by sea to Ferrol (120 km) and A Coruña (75 km), now one of the most marginalized of all itineraries. Finally, another logical exception must be granted to disabled pilgrims, for whom the 100 km limit should continue.

The request to extend the 300 km the minimum for obtaining Compostela is part of a more ambitious global proposal. FICS proposes a new management model for public shelters, with preference given to long-haul pilgrims, and eliminating abuses by commercial interests who profit from the albergue network. Government bodies should stop viewing the pilgrimage to Santiago as a tourist product or leisure experience. It is imperative that management and promotion of the Camino be removed from the Tourism department and returned to the oversight of Culture and Heritage.

We view The Way in its original medieval incarnation, as a great long-haul odyssey. The current dynamic strips away the meaning of the Camino for the sake of pecuniary interests and inevitably leads to a complete break with tradition. Those of us who work on and for the Camino – Amigos Associations, albergues, volunteers, government agents, and the Compostela cathedral itself -- are directly responsible for preventing this process of consumption. Our position is not just a romantic notion, much less a reactionary stand. It is made from deep respect for an ancient tradition that some shortsighted people are distorting for the sake of economic opportunism. If we do not stand up, they will soon destroy the magic that is the Camino de Santiago.


Anton Pombo, International Brotherhood of Camino de Santiago.

Sarria, March 12, 2016
I noticed that the distance from St Jean Pied de Port to St-Saturnin at Toulouse is almost exactly 300 kms. St-Saturnin at Toulouse also claims to have the remains of St James! Maybe a new Camino Frances is in order to satisfy the 300 km demand for a Champes de Etoiles.
 

Richard A Stead

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino France's (2016) Portuguese 2017
Might I suggest that if travellers are hell bent on having there Compostela as proof of pilgrimage at the end of their journey that FCIS awards different coloured sellos depending on distance travelled to Santiago. If you walk the minimum of 100km + you get one colour, 200km+ another &c. This system may be a way to remind people of the significance of their journey?
For me, I love the walk, I love my passport as memento, each stamp reminding me of a different time or person. I have no religious bent or belief so my camino is not completed for religious pilgrimage, or the receipt of a Compostela for that matter
 

Richard A Stead

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino France's (2016) Portuguese 2017
I agree the Compostela is not important. My objection is that having walked over 400 miles I cannot find a bed for the night because of the Sarria to Santiago tourists.
 

Sraaen

Steven Raaen
Camino(s) past & future
Via Podiensis (Le Puy - Pamplona) [2013]
Via Turonensis (Tours - SJPdP) [2013]
Camino Frances (SJPdP - SdC) [2013]
Via Tolosana (Montpellier - Pau) [2015]
Camino del Norte (Irun - SdC) [2015]
Dear friends, the Fraternidad Internacional del Camino de Santiago, an activist group comprised of historians, sociologists, hospitaleros, and camino busybodies, last weekend met in Sarria to debate the latest issues and decide how to solve some problems.
Most of you know that one of our more controversial proposals is petitioning the cathedral to extend the 100 km. required to earn a Compostela certificate to 300 kilometers. Everyone asks why.
So I translated (pretty awkwardly in places, I know!) the explanatory document, a paper written by Anton Pombo, a camino historian who has lived much of the current renaissance on the trail -- he was one of the first to paint yellow arrows to Finesterre. This document was presented to the cathedral dean and cabildo last week. It has NOT been approved or put into effect!


PROPOSAL TO EXPAND THE MINIMUM DISTANCE REQUIRED FOR AWARDING OF THE COMPOSTELA to 300 KILOMETERS


THE GENESIS OF THE ROAD

Since its inception, the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela was never a short-term undertaking. It was not a local or regional shrine that gradually gained fame through popular acclaim and miracles. On the contrary, it sprang into being with fully-formed international appeal: It led to the officially recognized apostolic tomb of Santiago the Greater. It managed to bring together not only Christian rites and symbols, but incorporated practices of past cults as well, as evidenced by legends of the translation of James’ body and the possible Celtic pilgrimage to Finisterre.

Alfonso II the Chaste, King of Asturias and Galicia, made the first political pilgrimage to Santiago after the rediscovery or "inventio" of the tomb between AD 820 and 830. The first documented pilgrims appeared in the 10th century from beyond the Pyrenees, devotees from from Germany and France, but we do not know their itinerary.

By the 11th century the “French route” along the Meseta was already established as a long-distance roadway to and from Europe, equipped with a network of pilgrim shelters. The pilgrimage to Santiago took its place alongside Jerusalem and Rome as one of the three great classic treks of Christianity. Santiago stood at the western end of the known world, following the direction the sun in the day and the Milky Way in the night. For pure symbolic value, Santiago surpassed Jerusalem and Rome. The Jacobean legend spread through Europe in the tales of Compostela in the times of Bishop Gelmirez, and above all, in the Codex Calixtinus. The universal dimension of this pilgrimage shines through medieval literature, inspiring works like the Historia Caroli Magni et Rotholandi or “Pseudo Turpin.” This book recounts the exploits of King Charlemagne, whose army supposedly opened the Camino pathway, guided by a sweep of stars all the way to Compostela and the ocean beyond.

The same tone was maintained into the late Middle Ages, despite the Reformation. The Counter-Reformation infused the pilgrimage with a focus on Catholic dogma. Walking to Santiago became a visible, living profession of religious faith. Pilgrims trickled in from all over the world. Centuries passed, but the Way of Santiago never lost its international character.

DECLINE AND REBIRTH OF THE PILGRIMAGE

But over time, the triumph of Liberal thought and the overwhelming idea of progress consigned the ancient pilgrimage path to a relic, something anachronistic and meaningless, reserved for vagrants and beggars. By the 19th century, the Compostela pilgrimage was practically extinct.

Other European Christian shrines and pilgrimages enjoyed a limited success, so archbishops Payá y Rico and Martin Herrera sought to stir up a new public religious devotion to St. James. The relics of the apostle were re-discovered after 300 years, so the local authorities tried to revitalize the pilgrimage with their meager means, using local processions and day-trips to Santiago as well as other holy sites, to at least keep the flame burning.

These local “romerias” became popular throughout Spain, upholding regional pride but thwarting the idea of traditional pilgrimage on foot. Twentieth-century “National Catholicism” manipulated the Compostela pilgrimage, focusing the faithful on arriving at the goal. The Way itself was downplayed, and the old walking routes were practically forgotten.

When the European Postwar intellectual and social crisis struck in the 1950s, it was foreigners, not Spaniards, who rediscovered the value of the pilgrimage. The Paris Society of Friends of the Camino was founded in 1950, with the Marquis Rene de La Coste-Messelière, among those who took the first timid steps.

The first Spanish association formed in Estella in the 1960s with the involvement of Paco Beruete and Eusebio Goicoechea, and registered itself in 1973. They delved into the study of the Jacobean pilgrimage as part of the Medieval Weeks festival in Estella, with their eyes always trained on the 11th and 12th-century "golden age" they hoped may someday revive.

This same historicist and romantic spirit, with the Codex Calixtinus as the main reference, is what inspired Elijah Valiña Sampedro, a man misunderstood in his time, to conceive the idea of revitalizing the foot pilgrimage on the French Way. Not beginning from Sarria, his own birthplace, nor from the Galician frontier, despite his being the pastor of St. Mary of O Cebreiro, Don Elias took the long view. He traced the most direct route to Compostela, gradually joining section to other sections. He understood from the beginning the Way in its original sense, as a geographic whole. Thus, with the collaboration of different people all along the route, he went to work to recover and mark with yellow arrows the better-known and documented French Way, from the Pyrenees to Compostela. He cooperated closely with the French, who did the same with France’s great historic routes, described in the famous guide book V of Calixtino: Tours, Vézelay, Le Puy and Arles.

Thus was reborn the Camino de Santiago in the 70s and 80s of the last century, with the utmost respect for history and tradition. The French Way was recovered first, and the remaining historical itineraries soon followed. It was an exemplary process, performed selflessly from the bottom up with the support and generosity of associations of Friends of the Camino de Santiago, which multiplied since the 80s. The Amigos groups’ first major achievement was the International Congress of Associations of Jaca (1987), chaired by Elias Valiña as Commissioner of the Way. A new credential was established, drawn from a prototype from Estella, to serve as a safe-conduct to contemporary pilgrims, allowing the use of pilgrim accommodations. No minimum distance was established to claim a Compostela at the Cathedral.

FROM THE XACOBEO TO NOW

The year 1993 was a Holy Year, and pilgrims poured into the shrine city. The regional government of Galicia rolled out "Xacobeo," a secular, promotional program that claimed to “parallel” the religious celebration while developing advertising campaigns and marketing strategies. The Xacobeo slogan, "All the Way," summed-up its fundamental objective: to transform the Camino de Santiago into a great cultural and tourist brand for Galicia, and squeeze the maximum benefit from a tourist phenomenon ripe with possibilities for community development. It was at this point that the still-incipient mileage requirement of the Compostela was set at 100 km.

The "All the Way" and 100 km idea, despite Galicia’s good-faith construction of a public network of free shelters, immediately created tensions with the plan developed by Valiña and the worldwide Jacobean associations. The minimum distance, which fit perfectly into the plans of the Xunta de Galicia to “begin and end the Camino in Galicia,” ended up creating a distorted image of what and where the Camino de Santiago is, a distortion that appears now to be unstoppable, and threatens to undermine and trivialize the traditional sense of the Compostela pilgrimage. For many, the pilgrimage is understood only as a four- or five-day stroll through Galicia – a reductionist view antagonistic to the historical sense of the great European pilgrimage tradition.

This distortion has contributed to the ongoing transformation of the road into a tourist product. Tour operators and travel agencies offer the credential and Compostela as marketing tools, souvenirs that reward tourists and trekkers who walk four or five days of the road without any idea of pilgrimage, using and monopolizing the network of low-cost hostels intended for pilgrims. The consequence of this abuse is the same seen at by many sites of significant cultural heritage: the progressive conversion of the monument or site to a “decaffeinated” product of mass tourism. It is a theme park stripped of “boring” interpretive information from historians or literary scholars, suitable for the rapid entertainment of the new, illiterate traveler unable to see any value in an experience that is not immediately recognizable and familiar. The consumer cannot enjoy an experience that requires preparation, training, and time, so the marketers provide him with a cheap and easy “Camino Lite” experience. Likewise, even as the Camino is commodified, its precious, intangible heritage of interpersonal generosity and simplicity is lost. Without this “pilgrim spirit,” the Camino’s monumental itinerary becomes a mere archaeological stage-set.

In recent years, the number of pilgrims from Sarria, Tui, Lugo, Ourense, Ferrol and other places just beyond the 100 km required to obtain the Compostela, has grown steadily, according to data provided by the Pilgrimage Office of the Cathedral of Santiago. The true number of “short haul” pilgrims is, according to studies prepared by the Observatory of the Camino de Santiago USC, much higher. More than 260,000 pilgrims registered in 2015, but at least as many again did not register at the cathedral office – they had been on the road without reaching the goal (they ran out of time) or they did not collect the Compostela due to lack of interest or knowledge. Many of these unregistered "pilgrims" respond the low-cost tourist or hiker profile.

According to figures for 2015, of the 262,516 pilgrims who collected the Compostela, 90.19% arrived on foot. More than a quarter left from Sarria (25.68%, more than double the number who left from St. Jean-Pied-de-Port, a traditional starting point 500 km. away in France). Another 5.25% walked from Tui; 3.94% came from O Cebreiro (151 km); Ferrol 3.31%; 2.17% from Valenca do Minho; 1.17% from Lugo; Ourense 1.09%; 0.84% to 0.57% from Triacastela and Samos, to name the next major starting points. Add up all these “short haul” pilgrims, and you see they are 44.02%, almost half of the total. Their numbers rise each year. If we add to this figure those arriving from points far less than 300 km from Santiago de Compostela the number is well over 50% of registered pilgrims.

We are faced with a choice. This “short-trip pilgrim” dynamic is only slowed by foreign pilgrims, who naturally fit better into the traditional role of the long-haul pilgrimage. We can keep silent and give up the Camino to the short-term interests of politicians, developers and agencies seeking only immediate benefit or profits. Or we can resist, try to change the trend, redirect the Camino to its role as an adventure that has little to do with tourism. We can reclaim the long-distance Camino and the values that make it unique: effort, transcendence, searching, reflection, encounters with others, solidarity, ecumenism or spirituality, all of them oriented toward a distant, shared goal.

Some object, noting that long ago, every pilgrim started from his own home, no matter how near or far it was from Santiago. Documentation and history say that Santiago de Compostela was never a place of worship for the Galicians, who had their own shrines and pilgrimages. Outside the pilgrimage, Santiago never had a great relevance for Spaniards, let alone the majority of foreign pilgrims.

The FICS proposal to amend of the Compostela requirements by the Council of the Church of Santiago is not intended to solve at a stroke the problems of the Camino. Requiring a walk of 300 kilometers will not ease the overcrowding on the last sections, or stop the clash between two opposite ways of understanding the pilgrimage. It aims at the symbolic level, and hopes to establish a new understanding of the Way which dovetails with the traditions of the preceding eleven centuries .

1. We hope first to re-establish to dignity of the Compostela, which has lately become an increasingly devalued certificate granted without requirements or agreements attached. It is handed out as a prize or a souvenir at the end of a Camino de Santiago package tour, without a flicker of its religious or spiritual connotation.

2. The contemporary revival of the Camino has made every effort to restore and protect historic pilgrimage routes. The Camino trail is hailed for its cultural interest, and its heritage value is listed by UNESCO. The same care should be exercised should be taken to preserve the practices of the pilgrims on the Santiago trail – the “pilgrim spirit” that forms the Camino’s intangible heritage. Thousands of pilgrims still experience the unity and life-changing power of the trail in its utter simplicity. Their needs cannot be sacrificed to “inevitable concessions to modernity.”

3. Many Gallegos who profit from the Camino see the pilgrimage as a passing phenomenon. They take a short-sighted view of history, and disregard the efforts and claims of neighboring communities of Asturias and Castilla y Leon, and Portugal, all of which have striven to document, retrieve, waymark and revitalize their historic itineraries of the reborn pilgrimage. Despite what Gallego tourist authorities say, the Camino de Santiago does not begin at the Galician border. The road should be treated as a whole, not segmented into independent and disjointed portions, and even less monopolized by the end-point. Even more oddly, ancient camino routes are being marketed as a paths without a goal – a phenomenon apparent in France, or on tributary routes that converge with larger axis, (ie, the Aragonés Camino, Camino del Baztán, San Adrian Tunnel, etc.), sold as "Jacobean routes."

4. This proposed distance is fixed at about three hundred kilometers. This figure is not a random whim – it is drawn from the very first recorded pilgrimage route to Compostela, now known as Camino Primitivo. This is the route taken by the courtiers of Oviedo to the honor the relics of the “Locus Sancti Iacobi,” a distance of 319 km.

Likewise, the 300 km. distance also fits the subsequent 10th century shift of the main pilgrimage axis to the French Way. King Garcia moved his court from Oviedo to Leon, a move confirmed by Ordoño II. Leon is 311 kilometers from Santiago.

Other places linked to the pilgrimage also fit within the scope of this distance: Aviles (320 km), the main medieval port of Asturias, where seaborne pilgrims landed; Zamora (377 km) in the Via de la Plata; Porto (280 km) in the Central Portuguese Way; or the episcopal city of Lamego (290 km) on the Portuguese Way of the Interior.

5. The basis of our proposal is historical: The original geographic triangle of Aviles, Oviedo, Leon. There should therefore not be an arbitrary numerical figure, but a reasonable level of average distance for the traditional pilgrimage on foot, by bicycle or on horseback, in the vicinity of 300 km. This puts the spotlight on the different Jacobean long-distance routes. It meets the needs of contemporary pilgrims for good transportation links and population centers to launch them on their way.

6. The change is not intended to exclude pilgrims whose limited schedules prevent them from walking more than 100 km, an objection that always is posited against increasing the required mileage. The road can be done in stages, at different time periods, or very slowly, all of which are perfectly valid ways to obtain the Compostela.

7. Attempts to divert pilgrims from the overcrowded French Way and Portuguese Route have been unsuccessful, and there are still overcrowding problems on the final, Galician stages, especially from Tui and Sarria onward to Compostela. Municipalities along these roads face serious problems at times of peak pilgrim traffic.

8. The Galician administration’s appropriation of the Camino de Santiago and marketing efforts that describe only the last (Galician) 100 km, have left large areas of Galician Camino “high and dry:” Samos, Triacastela or O Cebreiro, on the French Way; Castroverde, Baleira and A Fonsagrada on the Primitivo; Ribadeo, Lourenzá, Mondoñedo, Abadín and Vilalba on the Northern Way; The whole province of Ourense east of the capital, Allariz, Xinzo, Verin, A Gudina, on the Sanabres Route. The citizens of these camino communities provide the same services to pilgrims, but are unfairly cut from the pilgrimage map by a regional administration so sharply focused on the 100-kilometer radius.

9. The 300-kilometer shift will ease the antagonism that rises up between long-distance pilgrims and those on a “short haul.” Attempts to turn the last stages of the Way into a pure tourist “Disneyland” will be blunted.

10. An exception must be made for the English Way, a route with historical documentation reaching back to the Late Middle Ages. Pilgrims came by sea to Ferrol (120 km) and A Coruña (75 km), now one of the most marginalized of all itineraries. Finally, another logical exception must be granted to disabled pilgrims, for whom the 100 km limit should continue.

The request to extend the 300 km the minimum for obtaining Compostela is part of a more ambitious global proposal. FICS proposes a new management model for public shelters, with preference given to long-haul pilgrims, and eliminating abuses by commercial interests who profit from the albergue network. Government bodies should stop viewing the pilgrimage to Santiago as a tourist product or leisure experience. It is imperative that management and promotion of the Camino be removed from the Tourism department and returned to the oversight of Culture and Heritage.

We view The Way in its original medieval incarnation, as a great long-haul odyssey. The current dynamic strips away the meaning of the Camino for the sake of pecuniary interests and inevitably leads to a complete break with tradition. Those of us who work on and for the Camino – Amigos Associations, albergues, volunteers, government agents, and the Compostela cathedral itself -- are directly responsible for preventing this process of consumption. Our position is not just a romantic notion, much less a reactionary stand. It is made from deep respect for an ancient tradition that some shortsighted people are distorting for the sake of economic opportunism. If we do not stand up, they will soon destroy the magic that is the Camino de Santiago.


Anton Pombo, International Brotherhood of Camino de Santiago.

Sarria, March 12, 2016
Won't exempting the English Way just re-route the short-haul pilgrims away from CF to the northern coast?
While it may have historical relevance dating to mid evil days, the journey from Britain to northern Spain was a perilous journey back then. Nowadays it's a luxury ferry or a flight and a bus. Exemptions (not handicapped of course) are usually political compromises and always exploited.
 

livinglifeMYway

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012),( 2013) (2014) Camino Del Norte August-September (2016)
Dear friends, the Fraternidad Internacional del Camino de Santiago, an activist group comprised of historians, sociologists, hospitaleros, and camino busybodies, last weekend met in Sarria to debate the latest issues and decide how to solve some problems.
Most of you know that one of our more controversial proposals is petitioning the cathedral to extend the 100 km. required to earn a Compostela certificate to 300 kilometers. Everyone asks why.
So I translated (pretty awkwardly in places, I know!) the explanatory document, a paper written by Anton Pombo, a camino historian who has lived much of the current renaissance on the trail -- he was one of the first to paint yellow arrows to Finesterre. This document was presented to the cathedral dean and cabildo last week. It has NOT been approved or put into effect!


PROPOSAL TO EXPAND THE MINIMUM DISTANCE REQUIRED FOR AWARDING OF THE COMPOSTELA to 300 KILOMETERS


THE GENESIS OF THE ROAD

Since its inception, the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela was never a short-term undertaking. It was not a local or regional shrine that gradually gained fame through popular acclaim and miracles. On the contrary, it sprang into being with fully-formed international appeal: It led to the officially recognized apostolic tomb of Santiago the Greater. It managed to bring together not only Christian rites and symbols, but incorporated practices of past cults as well, as evidenced by legends of the translation of James’ body and the possible Celtic pilgrimage to Finisterre.

Alfonso II the Chaste, King of Asturias and Galicia, made the first political pilgrimage to Santiago after the rediscovery or "inventio" of the tomb between AD 820 and 830. The first documented pilgrims appeared in the 10th century from beyond the Pyrenees, devotees from from Germany and France, but we do not know their itinerary.

By the 11th century the “French route” along the Meseta was already established as a long-distance roadway to and from Europe, equipped with a network of pilgrim shelters. The pilgrimage to Santiago took its place alongside Jerusalem and Rome as one of the three great classic treks of Christianity. Santiago stood at the western end of the known world, following the direction the sun in the day and the Milky Way in the night. For pure symbolic value, Santiago surpassed Jerusalem and Rome. The Jacobean legend spread through Europe in the tales of Compostela in the times of Bishop Gelmirez, and above all, in the Codex Calixtinus. The universal dimension of this pilgrimage shines through medieval literature, inspiring works like the Historia Caroli Magni et Rotholandi or “Pseudo Turpin.” This book recounts the exploits of King Charlemagne, whose army supposedly opened the Camino pathway, guided by a sweep of stars all the way to Compostela and the ocean beyond.

The same tone was maintained into the late Middle Ages, despite the Reformation. The Counter-Reformation infused the pilgrimage with a focus on Catholic dogma. Walking to Santiago became a visible, living profession of religious faith. Pilgrims trickled in from all over the world. Centuries passed, but the Way of Santiago never lost its international character.

DECLINE AND REBIRTH OF THE PILGRIMAGE

But over time, the triumph of Liberal thought and the overwhelming idea of progress consigned the ancient pilgrimage path to a relic, something anachronistic and meaningless, reserved for vagrants and beggars. By the 19th century, the Compostela pilgrimage was practically extinct.

Other European Christian shrines and pilgrimages enjoyed a limited success, so archbishops Payá y Rico and Martin Herrera sought to stir up a new public religious devotion to St. James. The relics of the apostle were re-discovered after 300 years, so the local authorities tried to revitalize the pilgrimage with their meager means, using local processions and day-trips to Santiago as well as other holy sites, to at least keep the flame burning.

These local “romerias” became popular throughout Spain, upholding regional pride but thwarting the idea of traditional pilgrimage on foot. Twentieth-century “National Catholicism” manipulated the Compostela pilgrimage, focusing the faithful on arriving at the goal. The Way itself was downplayed, and the old walking routes were practically forgotten.

When the European Postwar intellectual and social crisis struck in the 1950s, it was foreigners, not Spaniards, who rediscovered the value of the pilgrimage. The Paris Society of Friends of the Camino was founded in 1950, with the Marquis Rene de La Coste-Messelière, among those who took the first timid steps.

The first Spanish association formed in Estella in the 1960s with the involvement of Paco Beruete and Eusebio Goicoechea, and registered itself in 1973. They delved into the study of the Jacobean pilgrimage as part of the Medieval Weeks festival in Estella, with their eyes always trained on the 11th and 12th-century "golden age" they hoped may someday revive.

This same historicist and romantic spirit, with the Codex Calixtinus as the main reference, is what inspired Elijah Valiña Sampedro, a man misunderstood in his time, to conceive the idea of revitalizing the foot pilgrimage on the French Way. Not beginning from Sarria, his own birthplace, nor from the Galician frontier, despite his being the pastor of St. Mary of O Cebreiro, Don Elias took the long view. He traced the most direct route to Compostela, gradually joining section to other sections. He understood from the beginning the Way in its original sense, as a geographic whole. Thus, with the collaboration of different people all along the route, he went to work to recover and mark with yellow arrows the better-known and documented French Way, from the Pyrenees to Compostela. He cooperated closely with the French, who did the same with France’s great historic routes, described in the famous guide book V of Calixtino: Tours, Vézelay, Le Puy and Arles.

Thus was reborn the Camino de Santiago in the 70s and 80s of the last century, with the utmost respect for history and tradition. The French Way was recovered first, and the remaining historical itineraries soon followed. It was an exemplary process, performed selflessly from the bottom up with the support and generosity of associations of Friends of the Camino de Santiago, which multiplied since the 80s. The Amigos groups’ first major achievement was the International Congress of Associations of Jaca (1987), chaired by Elias Valiña as Commissioner of the Way. A new credential was established, drawn from a prototype from Estella, to serve as a safe-conduct to contemporary pilgrims, allowing the use of pilgrim accommodations. No minimum distance was established to claim a Compostela at the Cathedral.

FROM THE XACOBEO TO NOW

The year 1993 was a Holy Year, and pilgrims poured into the shrine city. The regional government of Galicia rolled out "Xacobeo," a secular, promotional program that claimed to “parallel” the religious celebration while developing advertising campaigns and marketing strategies. The Xacobeo slogan, "All the Way," summed-up its fundamental objective: to transform the Camino de Santiago into a great cultural and tourist brand for Galicia, and squeeze the maximum benefit from a tourist phenomenon ripe with possibilities for community development. It was at this point that the still-incipient mileage requirement of the Compostela was set at 100 km.

The "All the Way" and 100 km idea, despite Galicia’s good-faith construction of a public network of free shelters, immediately created tensions with the plan developed by Valiña and the worldwide Jacobean associations. The minimum distance, which fit perfectly into the plans of the Xunta de Galicia to “begin and end the Camino in Galicia,” ended up creating a distorted image of what and where the Camino de Santiago is, a distortion that appears now to be unstoppable, and threatens to undermine and trivialize the traditional sense of the Compostela pilgrimage. For many, the pilgrimage is understood only as a four- or five-day stroll through Galicia – a reductionist view antagonistic to the historical sense of the great European pilgrimage tradition.

This distortion has contributed to the ongoing transformation of the road into a tourist product. Tour operators and travel agencies offer the credential and Compostela as marketing tools, souvenirs that reward tourists and trekkers who walk four or five days of the road without any idea of pilgrimage, using and monopolizing the network of low-cost hostels intended for pilgrims. The consequence of this abuse is the same seen at by many sites of significant cultural heritage: the progressive conversion of the monument or site to a “decaffeinated” product of mass tourism. It is a theme park stripped of “boring” interpretive information from historians or literary scholars, suitable for the rapid entertainment of the new, illiterate traveler unable to see any value in an experience that is not immediately recognizable and familiar. The consumer cannot enjoy an experience that requires preparation, training, and time, so the marketers provide him with a cheap and easy “Camino Lite” experience. Likewise, even as the Camino is commodified, its precious, intangible heritage of interpersonal generosity and simplicity is lost. Without this “pilgrim spirit,” the Camino’s monumental itinerary becomes a mere archaeological stage-set.

In recent years, the number of pilgrims from Sarria, Tui, Lugo, Ourense, Ferrol and other places just beyond the 100 km required to obtain the Compostela, has grown steadily, according to data provided by the Pilgrimage Office of the Cathedral of Santiago. The true number of “short haul” pilgrims is, according to studies prepared by the Observatory of the Camino de Santiago USC, much higher. More than 260,000 pilgrims registered in 2015, but at least as many again did not register at the cathedral office – they had been on the road without reaching the goal (they ran out of time) or they did not collect the Compostela due to lack of interest or knowledge. Many of these unregistered "pilgrims" respond the low-cost tourist or hiker profile.

According to figures for 2015, of the 262,516 pilgrims who collected the Compostela, 90.19% arrived on foot. More than a quarter left from Sarria (25.68%, more than double the number who left from St. Jean-Pied-de-Port, a traditional starting point 500 km. away in France). Another 5.25% walked from Tui; 3.94% came from O Cebreiro (151 km); Ferrol 3.31%; 2.17% from Valenca do Minho; 1.17% from Lugo; Ourense 1.09%; 0.84% to 0.57% from Triacastela and Samos, to name the next major starting points. Add up all these “short haul” pilgrims, and you see they are 44.02%, almost half of the total. Their numbers rise each year. If we add to this figure those arriving from points far less than 300 km from Santiago de Compostela the number is well over 50% of registered pilgrims.

We are faced with a choice. This “short-trip pilgrim” dynamic is only slowed by foreign pilgrims, who naturally fit better into the traditional role of the long-haul pilgrimage. We can keep silent and give up the Camino to the short-term interests of politicians, developers and agencies seeking only immediate benefit or profits. Or we can resist, try to change the trend, redirect the Camino to its role as an adventure that has little to do with tourism. We can reclaim the long-distance Camino and the values that make it unique: effort, transcendence, searching, reflection, encounters with others, solidarity, ecumenism or spirituality, all of them oriented toward a distant, shared goal.

Some object, noting that long ago, every pilgrim started from his own home, no matter how near or far it was from Santiago. Documentation and history say that Santiago de Compostela was never a place of worship for the Galicians, who had their own shrines and pilgrimages. Outside the pilgrimage, Santiago never had a great relevance for Spaniards, let alone the majority of foreign pilgrims.

The FICS proposal to amend of the Compostela requirements by the Council of the Church of Santiago is not intended to solve at a stroke the problems of the Camino. Requiring a walk of 300 kilometers will not ease the overcrowding on the last sections, or stop the clash between two opposite ways of understanding the pilgrimage. It aims at the symbolic level, and hopes to establish a new understanding of the Way which dovetails with the traditions of the preceding eleven centuries .

1. We hope first to re-establish to dignity of the Compostela, which has lately become an increasingly devalued certificate granted without requirements or agreements attached. It is handed out as a prize or a souvenir at the end of a Camino de Santiago package tour, without a flicker of its religious or spiritual connotation.

2. The contemporary revival of the Camino has made every effort to restore and protect historic pilgrimage routes. The Camino trail is hailed for its cultural interest, and its heritage value is listed by UNESCO. The same care should be exercised should be taken to preserve the practices of the pilgrims on the Santiago trail – the “pilgrim spirit” that forms the Camino’s intangible heritage. Thousands of pilgrims still experience the unity and life-changing power of the trail in its utter simplicity. Their needs cannot be sacrificed to “inevitable concessions to modernity.”

3. Many Gallegos who profit from the Camino see the pilgrimage as a passing phenomenon. They take a short-sighted view of history, and disregard the efforts and claims of neighboring communities of Asturias and Castilla y Leon, and Portugal, all of which have striven to document, retrieve, waymark and revitalize their historic itineraries of the reborn pilgrimage. Despite what Gallego tourist authorities say, the Camino de Santiago does not begin at the Galician border. The road should be treated as a whole, not segmented into independent and disjointed portions, and even less monopolized by the end-point. Even more oddly, ancient camino routes are being marketed as a paths without a goal – a phenomenon apparent in France, or on tributary routes that converge with larger axis, (ie, the Aragonés Camino, Camino del Baztán, San Adrian Tunnel, etc.), sold as "Jacobean routes."

4. This proposed distance is fixed at about three hundred kilometers. This figure is not a random whim – it is drawn from the very first recorded pilgrimage route to Compostela, now known as Camino Primitivo. This is the route taken by the courtiers of Oviedo to the honor the relics of the “Locus Sancti Iacobi,” a distance of 319 km.

Likewise, the 300 km. distance also fits the subsequent 10th century shift of the main pilgrimage axis to the French Way. King Garcia moved his court from Oviedo to Leon, a move confirmed by Ordoño II. Leon is 311 kilometers from Santiago.

Other places linked to the pilgrimage also fit within the scope of this distance: Aviles (320 km), the main medieval port of Asturias, where seaborne pilgrims landed; Zamora (377 km) in the Via de la Plata; Porto (280 km) in the Central Portuguese Way; or the episcopal city of Lamego (290 km) on the Portuguese Way of the Interior.

5. The basis of our proposal is historical: The original geographic triangle of Aviles, Oviedo, Leon. There should therefore not be an arbitrary numerical figure, but a reasonable level of average distance for the traditional pilgrimage on foot, by bicycle or on horseback, in the vicinity of 300 km. This puts the spotlight on the different Jacobean long-distance routes. It meets the needs of contemporary pilgrims for good transportation links and population centers to launch them on their way.

6. The change is not intended to exclude pilgrims whose limited schedules prevent them from walking more than 100 km, an objection that always is posited against increasing the required mileage. The road can be done in stages, at different time periods, or very slowly, all of which are perfectly valid ways to obtain the Compostela.

7. Attempts to divert pilgrims from the overcrowded French Way and Portuguese Route have been unsuccessful, and there are still overcrowding problems on the final, Galician stages, especially from Tui and Sarria onward to Compostela. Municipalities along these roads face serious problems at times of peak pilgrim traffic.

8. The Galician administration’s appropriation of the Camino de Santiago and marketing efforts that describe only the last (Galician) 100 km, have left large areas of Galician Camino “high and dry:” Samos, Triacastela or O Cebreiro, on the French Way; Castroverde, Baleira and A Fonsagrada on the Primitivo; Ribadeo, Lourenzá, Mondoñedo, Abadín and Vilalba on the Northern Way; The whole province of Ourense east of the capital, Allariz, Xinzo, Verin, A Gudina, on the Sanabres Route. The citizens of these camino communities provide the same services to pilgrims, but are unfairly cut from the pilgrimage map by a regional administration so sharply focused on the 100-kilometer radius.

9. The 300-kilometer shift will ease the antagonism that rises up between long-distance pilgrims and those on a “short haul.” Attempts to turn the last stages of the Way into a pure tourist “Disneyland” will be blunted.

10. An exception must be made for the English Way, a route with historical documentation reaching back to the Late Middle Ages. Pilgrims came by sea to Ferrol (120 km) and A Coruña (75 km), now one of the most marginalized of all itineraries. Finally, another logical exception must be granted to disabled pilgrims, for whom the 100 km limit should continue.

The request to extend the 300 km the minimum for obtaining Compostela is part of a more ambitious global proposal. FICS proposes a new management model for public shelters, with preference given to long-haul pilgrims, and eliminating abuses by commercial interests who profit from the albergue network. Government bodies should stop viewing the pilgrimage to Santiago as a tourist product or leisure experience. It is imperative that management and promotion of the Camino be removed from the Tourism department and returned to the oversight of Culture and Heritage.

We view The Way in its original medieval incarnation, as a great long-haul odyssey. The current dynamic strips away the meaning of the Camino for the sake of pecuniary interests and inevitably leads to a complete break with tradition. Those of us who work on and for the Camino – Amigos Associations, albergues, volunteers, government agents, and the Compostela cathedral itself -- are directly responsible for preventing this process of consumption. Our position is not just a romantic notion, much less a reactionary stand. It is made from deep respect for an ancient tradition that some shortsighted people are distorting for the sake of economic opportunism. If we do not stand up, they will soon destroy the magic that is the Camino de Santiago.


Anton Pombo, International Brotherhood of Camino de Santiago.

Sarria, March 12, 2016
 

livinglifeMYway

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012),( 2013) (2014) Camino Del Norte August-September (2016)
Dear friends, the Fraternidad Internacional del Camino de Santiago, an activist group comprised of historians, sociologists, hospitaleros, and camino busybodies, last weekend met in Sarria to debate the latest issues and decide how to solve some problems.
Most of you know that one of our more controversial proposals is petitioning the cathedral to extend the 100 km. required to earn a Compostela certificate to 300 kilometers. Everyone asks why.
So I translated (pretty awkwardly in places, I know!) the explanatory document, a paper written by Anton Pombo, a camino historian who has lived much of the current renaissance on the trail -- he was one of the first to paint yellow arrows to Finesterre. This document was presented to the cathedral dean and cabildo last week. It has NOT been approved or put into effect!


PROPOSAL TO EXPAND THE MINIMUM DISTANCE REQUIRED FOR AWARDING OF THE COMPOSTELA to 300 KILOMETERS


THE GENESIS OF THE ROAD

Since its inception, the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela was never a short-term undertaking. It was not a local or regional shrine that gradually gained fame through popular acclaim and miracles. On the contrary, it sprang into being with fully-formed international appeal: It led to the officially recognized apostolic tomb of Santiago the Greater. It managed to bring together not only Christian rites and symbols, but incorporated practices of past cults as well, as evidenced by legends of the translation of James’ body and the possible Celtic pilgrimage to Finisterre.

Alfonso II the Chaste, King of Asturias and Galicia, made the first political pilgrimage to Santiago after the rediscovery or "inventio" of the tomb between AD 820 and 830. The first documented pilgrims appeared in the 10th century from beyond the Pyrenees, devotees from from Germany and France, but we do not know their itinerary.

By the 11th century the “French route” along the Meseta was already established as a long-distance roadway to and from Europe, equipped with a network of pilgrim shelters. The pilgrimage to Santiago took its place alongside Jerusalem and Rome as one of the three great classic treks of Christianity. Santiago stood at the western end of the known world, following the direction the sun in the day and the Milky Way in the night. For pure symbolic value, Santiago surpassed Jerusalem and Rome. The Jacobean legend spread through Europe in the tales of Compostela in the times of Bishop Gelmirez, and above all, in the Codex Calixtinus. The universal dimension of this pilgrimage shines through medieval literature, inspiring works like the Historia Caroli Magni et Rotholandi or “Pseudo Turpin.” This book recounts the exploits of King Charlemagne, whose army supposedly opened the Camino pathway, guided by a sweep of stars all the way to Compostela and the ocean beyond.

The same tone was maintained into the late Middle Ages, despite the Reformation. The Counter-Reformation infused the pilgrimage with a focus on Catholic dogma. Walking to Santiago became a visible, living profession of religious faith. Pilgrims trickled in from all over the world. Centuries passed, but the Way of Santiago never lost its international character.

DECLINE AND REBIRTH OF THE PILGRIMAGE

But over time, the triumph of Liberal thought and the overwhelming idea of progress consigned the ancient pilgrimage path to a relic, something anachronistic and meaningless, reserved for vagrants and beggars. By the 19th century, the Compostela pilgrimage was practically extinct.

Other European Christian shrines and pilgrimages enjoyed a limited success, so archbishops Payá y Rico and Martin Herrera sought to stir up a new public religious devotion to St. James. The relics of the apostle were re-discovered after 300 years, so the local authorities tried to revitalize the pilgrimage with their meager means, using local processions and day-trips to Santiago as well as other holy sites, to at least keep the flame burning.

These local “romerias” became popular throughout Spain, upholding regional pride but thwarting the idea of traditional pilgrimage on foot. Twentieth-century “National Catholicism” manipulated the Compostela pilgrimage, focusing the faithful on arriving at the goal. The Way itself was downplayed, and the old walking routes were practically forgotten.

When the European Postwar intellectual and social crisis struck in the 1950s, it was foreigners, not Spaniards, who rediscovered the value of the pilgrimage. The Paris Society of Friends of the Camino was founded in 1950, with the Marquis Rene de La Coste-Messelière, among those who took the first timid steps.

The first Spanish association formed in Estella in the 1960s with the involvement of Paco Beruete and Eusebio Goicoechea, and registered itself in 1973. They delved into the study of the Jacobean pilgrimage as part of the Medieval Weeks festival in Estella, with their eyes always trained on the 11th and 12th-century "golden age" they hoped may someday revive.

This same historicist and romantic spirit, with the Codex Calixtinus as the main reference, is what inspired Elijah Valiña Sampedro, a man misunderstood in his time, to conceive the idea of revitalizing the foot pilgrimage on the French Way. Not beginning from Sarria, his own birthplace, nor from the Galician frontier, despite his being the pastor of St. Mary of O Cebreiro, Don Elias took the long view. He traced the most direct route to Compostela, gradually joining section to other sections. He understood from the beginning the Way in its original sense, as a geographic whole. Thus, with the collaboration of different people all along the route, he went to work to recover and mark with yellow arrows the better-known and documented French Way, from the Pyrenees to Compostela. He cooperated closely with the French, who did the same with France’s great historic routes, described in the famous guide book V of Calixtino: Tours, Vézelay, Le Puy and Arles.

Thus was reborn the Camino de Santiago in the 70s and 80s of the last century, with the utmost respect for history and tradition. The French Way was recovered first, and the remaining historical itineraries soon followed. It was an exemplary process, performed selflessly from the bottom up with the support and generosity of associations of Friends of the Camino de Santiago, which multiplied since the 80s. The Amigos groups’ first major achievement was the International Congress of Associations of Jaca (1987), chaired by Elias Valiña as Commissioner of the Way. A new credential was established, drawn from a prototype from Estella, to serve as a safe-conduct to contemporary pilgrims, allowing the use of pilgrim accommodations. No minimum distance was established to claim a Compostela at the Cathedral.

FROM THE XACOBEO TO NOW

The year 1993 was a Holy Year, and pilgrims poured into the shrine city. The regional government of Galicia rolled out "Xacobeo," a secular, promotional program that claimed to “parallel” the religious celebration while developing advertising campaigns and marketing strategies. The Xacobeo slogan, "All the Way," summed-up its fundamental objective: to transform the Camino de Santiago into a great cultural and tourist brand for Galicia, and squeeze the maximum benefit from a tourist phenomenon ripe with possibilities for community development. It was at this point that the still-incipient mileage requirement of the Compostela was set at 100 km.

The "All the Way" and 100 km idea, despite Galicia’s good-faith construction of a public network of free shelters, immediately created tensions with the plan developed by Valiña and the worldwide Jacobean associations. The minimum distance, which fit perfectly into the plans of the Xunta de Galicia to “begin and end the Camino in Galicia,” ended up creating a distorted image of what and where the Camino de Santiago is, a distortion that appears now to be unstoppable, and threatens to undermine and trivialize the traditional sense of the Compostela pilgrimage. For many, the pilgrimage is understood only as a four- or five-day stroll through Galicia – a reductionist view antagonistic to the historical sense of the great European pilgrimage tradition.

This distortion has contributed to the ongoing transformation of the road into a tourist product. Tour operators and travel agencies offer the credential and Compostela as marketing tools, souvenirs that reward tourists and trekkers who walk four or five days of the road without any idea of pilgrimage, using and monopolizing the network of low-cost hostels intended for pilgrims. The consequence of this abuse is the same seen at by many sites of significant cultural heritage: the progressive conversion of the monument or site to a “decaffeinated” product of mass tourism. It is a theme park stripped of “boring” interpretive information from historians or literary scholars, suitable for the rapid entertainment of the new, illiterate traveler unable to see any value in an experience that is not immediately recognizable and familiar. The consumer cannot enjoy an experience that requires preparation, training, and time, so the marketers provide him with a cheap and easy “Camino Lite” experience. Likewise, even as the Camino is commodified, its precious, intangible heritage of interpersonal generosity and simplicity is lost. Without this “pilgrim spirit,” the Camino’s monumental itinerary becomes a mere archaeological stage-set.

In recent years, the number of pilgrims from Sarria, Tui, Lugo, Ourense, Ferrol and other places just beyond the 100 km required to obtain the Compostela, has grown steadily, according to data provided by the Pilgrimage Office of the Cathedral of Santiago. The true number of “short haul” pilgrims is, according to studies prepared by the Observatory of the Camino de Santiago USC, much higher. More than 260,000 pilgrims registered in 2015, but at least as many again did not register at the cathedral office – they had been on the road without reaching the goal (they ran out of time) or they did not collect the Compostela due to lack of interest or knowledge. Many of these unregistered "pilgrims" respond the low-cost tourist or hiker profile.

According to figures for 2015, of the 262,516 pilgrims who collected the Compostela, 90.19% arrived on foot. More than a quarter left from Sarria (25.68%, more than double the number who left from St. Jean-Pied-de-Port, a traditional starting point 500 km. away in France). Another 5.25% walked from Tui; 3.94% came from O Cebreiro (151 km); Ferrol 3.31%; 2.17% from Valenca do Minho; 1.17% from Lugo; Ourense 1.09%; 0.84% to 0.57% from Triacastela and Samos, to name the next major starting points. Add up all these “short haul” pilgrims, and you see they are 44.02%, almost half of the total. Their numbers rise each year. If we add to this figure those arriving from points far less than 300 km from Santiago de Compostela the number is well over 50% of registered pilgrims.

We are faced with a choice. This “short-trip pilgrim” dynamic is only slowed by foreign pilgrims, who naturally fit better into the traditional role of the long-haul pilgrimage. We can keep silent and give up the Camino to the short-term interests of politicians, developers and agencies seeking only immediate benefit or profits. Or we can resist, try to change the trend, redirect the Camino to its role as an adventure that has little to do with tourism. We can reclaim the long-distance Camino and the values that make it unique: effort, transcendence, searching, reflection, encounters with others, solidarity, ecumenism or spirituality, all of them oriented toward a distant, shared goal.

Some object, noting that long ago, every pilgrim started from his own home, no matter how near or far it was from Santiago. Documentation and history say that Santiago de Compostela was never a place of worship for the Galicians, who had their own shrines and pilgrimages. Outside the pilgrimage, Santiago never had a great relevance for Spaniards, let alone the majority of foreign pilgrims.

The FICS proposal to amend of the Compostela requirements by the Council of the Church of Santiago is not intended to solve at a stroke the problems of the Camino. Requiring a walk of 300 kilometers will not ease the overcrowding on the last sections, or stop the clash between two opposite ways of understanding the pilgrimage. It aims at the symbolic level, and hopes to establish a new understanding of the Way which dovetails with the traditions of the preceding eleven centuries .

1. We hope first to re-establish to dignity of the Compostela, which has lately become an increasingly devalued certificate granted without requirements or agreements attached. It is handed out as a prize or a souvenir at the end of a Camino de Santiago package tour, without a flicker of its religious or spiritual connotation.

2. The contemporary revival of the Camino has made every effort to restore and protect historic pilgrimage routes. The Camino trail is hailed for its cultural interest, and its heritage value is listed by UNESCO. The same care should be exercised should be taken to preserve the practices of the pilgrims on the Santiago trail – the “pilgrim spirit” that forms the Camino’s intangible heritage. Thousands of pilgrims still experience the unity and life-changing power of the trail in its utter simplicity. Their needs cannot be sacrificed to “inevitable concessions to modernity.”

3. Many Gallegos who profit from the Camino see the pilgrimage as a passing phenomenon. They take a short-sighted view of history, and disregard the efforts and claims of neighboring communities of Asturias and Castilla y Leon, and Portugal, all of which have striven to document, retrieve, waymark and revitalize their historic itineraries of the reborn pilgrimage. Despite what Gallego tourist authorities say, the Camino de Santiago does not begin at the Galician border. The road should be treated as a whole, not segmented into independent and disjointed portions, and even less monopolized by the end-point. Even more oddly, ancient camino routes are being marketed as a paths without a goal – a phenomenon apparent in France, or on tributary routes that converge with larger axis, (ie, the Aragonés Camino, Camino del Baztán, San Adrian Tunnel, etc.), sold as "Jacobean routes."

4. This proposed distance is fixed at about three hundred kilometers. This figure is not a random whim – it is drawn from the very first recorded pilgrimage route to Compostela, now known as Camino Primitivo. This is the route taken by the courtiers of Oviedo to the honor the relics of the “Locus Sancti Iacobi,” a distance of 319 km.

Likewise, the 300 km. distance also fits the subsequent 10th century shift of the main pilgrimage axis to the French Way. King Garcia moved his court from Oviedo to Leon, a move confirmed by Ordoño II. Leon is 311 kilometers from Santiago.

Other places linked to the pilgrimage also fit within the scope of this distance: Aviles (320 km), the main medieval port of Asturias, where seaborne pilgrims landed; Zamora (377 km) in the Via de la Plata; Porto (280 km) in the Central Portuguese Way; or the episcopal city of Lamego (290 km) on the Portuguese Way of the Interior.

5. The basis of our proposal is historical: The original geographic triangle of Aviles, Oviedo, Leon. There should therefore not be an arbitrary numerical figure, but a reasonable level of average distance for the traditional pilgrimage on foot, by bicycle or on horseback, in the vicinity of 300 km. This puts the spotlight on the different Jacobean long-distance routes. It meets the needs of contemporary pilgrims for good transportation links and population centers to launch them on their way.

6. The change is not intended to exclude pilgrims whose limited schedules prevent them from walking more than 100 km, an objection that always is posited against increasing the required mileage. The road can be done in stages, at different time periods, or very slowly, all of which are perfectly valid ways to obtain the Compostela.

7. Attempts to divert pilgrims from the overcrowded French Way and Portuguese Route have been unsuccessful, and there are still overcrowding problems on the final, Galician stages, especially from Tui and Sarria onward to Compostela. Municipalities along these roads face serious problems at times of peak pilgrim traffic.

8. The Galician administration’s appropriation of the Camino de Santiago and marketing efforts that describe only the last (Galician) 100 km, have left large areas of Galician Camino “high and dry:” Samos, Triacastela or O Cebreiro, on the French Way; Castroverde, Baleira and A Fonsagrada on the Primitivo; Ribadeo, Lourenzá, Mondoñedo, Abadín and Vilalba on the Northern Way; The whole province of Ourense east of the capital, Allariz, Xinzo, Verin, A Gudina, on the Sanabres Route. The citizens of these camino communities provide the same services to pilgrims, but are unfairly cut from the pilgrimage map by a regional administration so sharply focused on the 100-kilometer radius.

9. The 300-kilometer shift will ease the antagonism that rises up between long-distance pilgrims and those on a “short haul.” Attempts to turn the last stages of the Way into a pure tourist “Disneyland” will be blunted.

10. An exception must be made for the English Way, a route with historical documentation reaching back to the Late Middle Ages. Pilgrims came by sea to Ferrol (120 km) and A Coruña (75 km), now one of the most marginalized of all itineraries. Finally, another logical exception must be granted to disabled pilgrims, for whom the 100 km limit should continue.

The request to extend the 300 km the minimum for obtaining Compostela is part of a more ambitious global proposal. FICS proposes a new management model for public shelters, with preference given to long-haul pilgrims, and eliminating abuses by commercial interests who profit from the albergue network. Government bodies should stop viewing the pilgrimage to Santiago as a tourist product or leisure experience. It is imperative that management and promotion of the Camino be removed from the Tourism department and returned to the oversight of Culture and Heritage.

We view The Way in its original medieval incarnation, as a great long-haul odyssey. The current dynamic strips away the meaning of the Camino for the sake of pecuniary interests and inevitably leads to a complete break with tradition. Those of us who work on and for the Camino – Amigos Associations, albergues, volunteers, government agents, and the Compostela cathedral itself -- are directly responsible for preventing this process of consumption. Our position is not just a romantic notion, much less a reactionary stand. It is made from deep respect for an ancient tradition that some shortsighted people are distorting for the sake of economic opportunism. If we do not stand up, they will soon destroy the magic that is the Camino de Santiago.


Anton Pombo, International Brotherhood of Camino de Santiago.

Sarria, March 12, 2016
Hi All...
I am new here but definitely not new to the camino. I have walked three times and plan to walk the Norte late summer-fall. I have never collected my compostela. I am catholic but felt it was more of a very spiritual and private journey. I am happy to hear that it will take a bit more dedication to earn your compostella.
 
Camino(s) past & future
23 May (2016)
In America we are loving our National parks to death. Too many people not enough services or space. The Park Service remedy was to close popular camp grounds, close access roads and trails, restrict or control what access there is, and to impose fees and raise existing prices. All they managed to do is alienate the very ones the parks were intended for, The People, and in tern have force the poor and marginalized out. I fully understand the Park Services intent but question the methods.

I understand the concerns of the FICS. People are loving the caminos to death and it is important to preserve and protect the past but I question their recommendations. If the cause or issue is over crowding on the last 100 kiloliters is the certificate, drop the certificate. Do keep the passport for prof for staying at albergues, other pilgrim accommodations and getting pilgrim meals. Personally, I'm prouder of my Stamped passport.

One last thing, I'm not Catholic nor am I very religious, refer to myself as agnostic. I believe in God and I know that Christ was a real person. Is the FICS saying that the Camino is for Catholics only. Does my not being Catholic make me unworthy of walking the caminos? Does my presents on the camino lessen the experience for the faithful? Maybe I'm trying to read between the lines. Buen Camino

Happy Trails
Ciao, UT -
I don't believe that the FICS at all is saying that one must be a Catholic. I do believe it IS saying that the intent is primarily for those who approach it for a spiritual or religious purpose. I get the strong sense that those who are only walking the Way for adventure or to lose weight have missed an essential reason for the pilgrimage's original existence.

I am kind of suspecting you already know that, because of the tinge of sarcasm in your paragraph 3.
Your presence does not diminish the experience for the faithful (providing your music isn't too loud, your drinking too raucous, or your hiking pants fall too low!). The presence of another human being does not ever diminish the experience, because how does one pilgrim know the intent of any other pilgrim? And for Catholics, we (are supposed to) learn early that all humans, all our fellow travelers on Life's Great Pilgrimage, are created in the image of the Creator, so your presence enhances the experience for others, not diminishes it.

But do keep in mind that this is a pilgrimage, with all that implies.
Vaya con dios,
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances x 2 , Norte x 2 , Le Puy x 3 , Portuguese x 2,
Mont St Michel , Primitivo .
Last month after starting in Biarritz , doing the Norte and then Primitivo we got the bus when we hit Melide , ...NOISE ......to SDC and then walked to Muxia
Noise and crowded thus the reason we continued onto Muxia which also is getting very popular.
Big increase from our previous walks which commenced in 08
 
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Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
Reading again through the proposal, I remember that I wanted to ask this before:


Is this really correct?
Yes, it's historical fact. The Camino de Santiago has never been a local "romeria," even though it was promoted as such early in the 20th century, when the international pilgrimage had gone dormant. It's always been a long-haul trip.
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
Yes, it's historical fact. The Camino de Santiago has never been a local "romeria," even though it was promoted as such early in the 20th century, when the international pilgrimage had gone dormant. It's always been a long-haul trip.
Renekah,

I tried to find the post you responded to as I am uncertain of your responses's meaning.

What is a "local romeria"? A shortish local walk vs a long haul?
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
Yes, it's historical fact. The Camino de Santiago has never been a local "romeria," even though it was promoted as such early in the 20th century, when the international pilgrimage had gone dormant. It's always been a long-haul trip.

A "romeria" is a Spanish parish festival, where everyone carries the image of the patron saint from one holy place to another, has a party, and carries it back again. It's a short-haul pilgrimage, very neighborhood-y.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
I did my first Camino in Sept. 2015 and started in Sarria. Because of the experiences I had I'm back this year with my son (he's 30 and I'm 66).

I went on the Camino because I had reached an age where I was unsure of my ability to do anything physical that required some dedication and effort. You may or may not understand how I felt when I walked through the doors of the Cathedral - I felt truly reborn and empowered.

A small part of wanting to return is, strange as it may seem, to get another Compostela. That piece of paper is a daily reminder that I achieved something and it is also a permanent reminder of the trip/hike/pilgrimage and it seems that there are some people would like to take that away from me. I will walk further this year and will, if I finish, feel even more empowered than I did in 2015.

Also the people who want to snatch away and devalue that indicator of what I achieved (the Compostela) are, it seems, people of a religious bent who feel that to get the Compostela everyone has to complete what they believe is a true pilgrimage. I believe those 'religious people' are being irreligious, petty and downright nasty. They seem to fail to understand or accept that there are many reason why people do the Camino and that a Compostela can be a part of that without them being Pilgrims in the truest sense of the word.

Saddened by the parochial attitude of some in this thread.

This is a complex discussion topic that has been doing the rounds since 2014 at least, and it has multiple inter-twining factors, including Tradition, Religion, Economics, and Politics. And Modern Transport.

But there's also an aspect whereby those of us with more experience feel that many are missing out from that experience because of the frankly artificial 100K rule, strictly religious or traditional aspects aside, leading some to propose this as a sort of "new normal".

Of course the Economics are a significant factor here, as the financial benefits to the Communities and Regions are currently quite unfairly being bagsied by Galicia ; the downside of the proposal is of course that the Galician touristification would treble its radius, thus denaturing the Camino even further.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
As for your suggestion/recommendation (which I have bolded above) what "church" will be recognised as being an acceptable issuing authority?

The Compostela is an official document issued by the Catholic Church. And so technically, as the Diocese of Santiago recently reminded everyone, is the Pilgrim's Credencial.

There are limits to how much secularisation of the Camino the Church will turn a blind eye to ...
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2017
Planning for 2021
If they are walking for 4 months and with a chaperone, surely they don't need the Compostela as proof of having walked.
Actually nobody NEEDS a Compostella do they? But having walked that distance carrying their own tent etc., it is a nice to have thing. They deserve one as much as anyone else. Having a chaperone does not make their effort any easier, after all it is their camino, as much as it is the camino of those who get their luggage carried and taxi over the difficult bits.
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
Alas this article gets a few things wrong, or maybe so does Julian Barro:

A) it talks about only two categories of people : those who walk for religious purposes (a spiritual process) and the rest who are just walkers who observe. There is no place for spirituality here other than if you have faith and are walking to Santiago with the destination being the reason for walking, and yet the same document is given to those who walk with faith and to reach Santiago then to those who claim to be walking for "spiritual reasons".

B) it says that since 2014 the Compostela is given to all, which is not true.

If the arzobispo really believes the only pilgrims are those walking with faith and for whom reaching Santiago is what matters it may be time to review the criteria for who is given a Compostela and who is not.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
I can't see that the FICS proposal makes any attempt to distinguish the motives of people walking. It merely wants the 100km rule changed to 300km.

Yes, but you cannot realistically suggest that it would have no effect upon motivation
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
If I have understood this correctly, one of the main reasons for the suggestion is to try and reduce the crush of folk that commences at Sarria at certain times of the year

I think that's unfair -- the central purpose seems to be to improve the quality of the Camino in itself for both the minimalist 100K crowd and the local communities.

I was under the impression that the vast majority of those who do the last 100 are mainly Spanish. My recollection is certainly of that, therefore I assume that they would not be unduly penalised by starting in a different location if they are looking to augment their CV with a Compostela?

Yep -- mais l'un n'empêche pas l'autre !!
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
I said this earlier, and on reflection, it may well be that to implement any changes, there will need to be new rules that discriminate against a certain class of people. Currently, the rules discriminate between those who walk 100km and those who don't. That is a reasonable factual observation, although there are possible abuses of the evidentiary requirements. Using albergues is also subject to a similar test, with the same potential for abuse. It is not a perfect system, but then I doubt any rules based system would be, and any system that relies on detecting the motivation of the individual is just nonsense. Is there another approach? There must be, but let's not make its design motivation be to deter those we somehow deem unworthy based on our assessments of their intentions.

In this, I also think we should consider how any proposal might affect those who currently walk the minimum distance with a sincere religious or spiritual purpose. When I walked, the road from Sarria seemed to be full of people about whom there was no reason to make any other assessment. I recall that when I walked in 2014, I really only had 12 days, and chose to do a slightly extended CI and then to walk to Muxia and Finisterre. I can imagine many others facing similar time constraints that the current proposal would effectively preclude.

This is a great post, but I think people should remember that the Tourigrino is a creation of the Middle Ages, not the 1990s, and that it is a perfectly valid traditional manner of being a Pilgrim. Even though we may shudder at the idea of being one oneself !!!

As the excellent mademoiselle Warcollier wrote, when the current incarnation of the Camino was being created back in the 60s, the only truly important thing is to get to Santiago.

To face financial difficulties has been part of every single Pilgrimage I have ever done.
 
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JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
My prediction: there will be a lot of talk, then no changes! The pilgrims are too large a source of revenue to risk a change.:)

Change is inevitable -- to be more metaphysical, Change is Intrinsic to ALL genuine Pilgrimage.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
Jeez, everyone is a critic!
A pilgrim is a person set apart by a holy purpose. If that's elitist and exclusive and hurts someone's feelings, well. So be it.
There is an ongoing confusion between the Holy Year indulgence and the Compostela.
The Compostela as we know it today is just acknowledgement that a person has visited the cathedral in Santiago, having made a journey for "pious reasons." It doesn't give anyone a "get out of hell free" card, it makes no statement about mileage covered or personal righteousness. It just says you were there in response to a promise made or a pious desire. The 100 km. covered is implied, but not expressed. A Compostela has no price tag, but a donation is suggested to cover costs.
The mileage certificate, an innovation of a couple of years ago, is the big money-maker these days for the pilgrim office. It is pretty, it acknowledges the "long-haul" achievement, it costs little. Producing it -- as well as selling postal tubes and souvenirs -- has slowed down the lines at the pilgrim office significantly, but it rakes in well over 100,000 Euro per year, tax free, so what's not to like?
The actual Compostela indulgence requires a walk through the Holy Door, confession, absolution, prayers for the pope, and attendance at a religious service in the cathedral. It doesn't cost any thing, but you don't get any certificate or souvenir or anything to take home and show your friends. You get nothing but Blessed Assurance.

IMHO, A Camino well-walked with compassion for fellows on the trail, finished-up at the Cathedral with thankfulness, cuts through all the rigmarole and rules. A pilgrimage is between you and God. The rest is noise.

Bekkah, I love you dearly, and please can you give a hefty kick to the Black Dog and a warm hug to the Toad, but no, the Compostela provided it is obtained in proper conditions is still a legal document and a proof of a Partial or Plenary Indulgence as the case may be, and so admissible as testimony in a Court of Ecclesial Law for various purposes, for those who may be in need of such things.

Otherwise no, it is not a "get out of hell free" card.
 
D

Deleted member 59555

Guest
I am 68 Live in New Zealand with my wife I am training for twelve months to do the 800ks for very spiritual reasons.
I know that my wife could not do the 800 ks but she is putting in the same effort as I to be able to meet me in Sarria and do the last 100 ks with me. I would be devastated if the same physical effort from both of us relevant to what our bodies can stand was not recognized by the compastella.
 

Richard A Stead

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino France's (2016) Portuguese 2017
I am nearly 71. I did the 800 ks this year and believe me I didn't thing I could. If you take your time and listen to your body you can do far more the Sarria and the last 100 ks is not the real CAMINO it is packed with people taking a holiday and it's difficult to achieve spirituality with soooo many people. I hope your wife decides to do more say from Leon but if not certainly she should get her compostela and she will. Good luck and Buen CAMINO.
 

SabineP

Camino = Gratitude + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
I am 68 Live in New Zealand with my wife I am training for twelve months to do the 800ks for very spiritual reasons.
I know that my wife could not do the 800 ks but she is putting in the same effort as I to be able to meet me in Sarria and do the last 100 ks with me. I would be devastated if the same physical effort from both of us relevant to what our bodies can stand was not recognized by the compastella.


Terry :Ultreïa to you and your wife. Happy preparations!
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
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:
Ouch Richard - "last 100 ks is not the real CAMINO.

I hope the many not-so-able people I have lead on the last 100km of the Caminos and to Rome don't read this post! Some pilgrims have taken up to 17 days from Sarria to Santiago - and for them it was a very real Camino.
There are many pilgrims who can't afford a 5 or 6 week holiday away from home who walk the last 100 km to Santiago and have deeply spiritual experiences on the Camino.
Any fit person can walk 800 km or 2000 km but that doesn't make it a 'real' Camino, just a really long hike.
No matter what distance you walk, the real Camino is what you carry in your heart and the intentions you live whilst on the walk.
 

Elizabeth Cheung

Existential Sherpa
Camino(s) past & future
Let's just say I've been around ;-)
"Historically, many countries have provided criminals with the choice to either serve prison time, or do the Camino. Even today, Belgium will sometimes allow minor crimes to be pardoned by completing the pilgrimage. While, in these cases, the Camino was used as a form of punishment, its impact upon a pilgrim’s connection with themselves and their world community could instead be regarded as an unconventional form of rehabilitation."

The source of this text is from the Camino Documentary website (http://caminodocumentary.org/the-camino-de-santiago/). The Belgian person I knew of who chaperoned these youth walked with them from Brussels, Belgium to SDC (1,550 mile, 4 month walk) and all were required to camp in tents that they carried on their back so hardly a "100km bus and taxi party for 4 days...".


Wow! That is actually pretty cool. We have a few "Wilderness High Schools" for troubled teens who are at risk and who do not respond well to conventional school. They do a lot of back country treks in all seasons. Many end up furthering their education to become park wardens or back country guides. As a social worker, I'd be really curious how this Belgian program works and how it changes the youth after.
 

SabineP

Camino = Gratitude + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
Wow! That is actually pretty cool. We have a few "Wilderness High Schools" for troubled teens who are at risk and who do not respond well to conventional school. They do a lot of back country treks in all seasons. Many end up furthering their education to become park wardens or back country guides. As a social worker, I'd be really curious how this Belgian program works and how it changes the youth after.

Being a belgian social worker I must tell you that due to different political agendas and financial issues the " Oikoten " project has gone rather minimal. There are still other projects running ( like farm work etc ) but walking the Camino is not high on the agenda.

http://alba.be/ondersteunende-begeleiding/onthemingen-oikoten/

No english version but google translate might help.
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
the last 100 ks is not the real CAMINO it is packed with people taking a holiday and it's difficult to achieve spirituality with soooo many people
If I assume that the words are a bit too stark and somewhat poorly chosen, it is a sentiment that is often expressed! :) The last 100 km is markedly different from the first four weeks, and Richard is pointing that out. Certainly it is a "real CAMINO," but it is likely to provide a very different interaction with fellow pilgrims.

Luis "Unapata" walked the "whole camino" on one leg and crutches from SJPdP to Fisterra. There are many different levels of not-so-able pilgrims who may have widely varying motivations and capabilities. The Camino offers them a complete range of choices and challenges to suit their imaginations. Able pilgrims do things like ride a unicycle, use skateboards, run, or go barefoot to fulfill their imaginations. They are quite fortunate to have a wider range of life choices, and many of them boastfully do not seem to appreciate that advantage!! After making the pilgrimage, some of them will have broadened their perception. ;)
 
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
If they are walking for 4 months and with a chaperone, surely they don't need the Compostela as proof of having walked.

Writing as a former bureaucrat, it is likely that the Belgian authorities revel in contemplating evidence of independent third-party verification-- one likes to think that they also take pleasure in the formal Latin scroll! It would also be more elegant in a frame than a copy of the companion's formal report.

But writing as one who walked with one of these pairs -- the youthful miscreant and his guide -- for a few days along the del Norte, I was struck by the maturity and thoughtfulness of the reflections of the young man as he walked along. Evidently it won't work for everyone, but,.....

As far as the 100-km gang go, I found them overwhelmingly Spanish and cheerful-- it was not what I look for in a Camino, but it was perhaps reflective of the spirit of the mediaeval pilgrimage and I would note that I spoke with a number of pilgrims who were taking a second, longer, Camino, having done the 100-km walk.
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
Being a belgian social worker I must tell you that due to different political agendas and financial issues the " Oikoten " project has gone rather minimal. There are still other projects running ( like farm work etc ) but walking the Camino is not high on the agenda.

http://alba.be/ondersteunende-begeleiding/onthemingen-oikoten/

No english version but google translate might help.

Sabine, this is a lart of the website I threw in GoogleTranslate.
"You're in a desperate situation and is challenged to take back your life into your own hands. But you do not know well which side you want out or you are not quite ready for. You sit for a long time in trouble and you feel that you really do not know how to proceed. You would like to change something about your life, stand on their own or you show environment that you can deliver a unique performance. You love adventure and it would do you good to have to be a long time away from everything and get to know a whole new world.

You are between 16 and 18 years (exceptionally to 20 years on extended supervision) and have a file within the youth. You live in Flanders or Brussels. Your juvenile court and / or consultant behind your plan."

Correct me if I'm wrong, especially since the website is very complete and I have not translated it all, but this doesn't give me the feel one gets the option between jail and this programme, just that it's a program for juvenile deliquents who have been in the system, or youth in the system for all sorts of other reasons not linked to a criminal offense, and are looking to build/rebuild their life. This is on top of "doing time" in the juvenile system, not in lieu of.

Also, could point out in the website where/if there is any info on why the Camino is no longer used in this program?

Thank you.
 

SabineP

Camino = Gratitude + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
Hi Anemone,

I thought it was still ' and -and "situation. Meaning youths who our under "jeugdrechtbank" ( court : mandatory ) or "jeugdzorg" ( care : voluntary ) who can participate.
I will ask later this week to some people in the field who might know more.

Don't get me wrong : Camino is still ONE of the tools but not the only one like in the seventies or eighties.


Here is a link to parliamentary discussion in 2012 where the halvation of subsidies is been discussed.
https://docs.vlaamsparlement.be/docs/handelingen_commissies/2011-2012/c0m228wel19-15052012.pdf

So again making it the organisation more difficult but not impossible to find alternatives.
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
With the party feeling now so prevalent on the Camino, especially bs the 70s and 80s, I can see why they would look for other challenges.
 

SabineP

Camino = Gratitude + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
With the party feeling now so prevalent on the Camino, especially bs the 70s and 80s, I can see why they would look for other challenges.

Nothing to do with the party feel...more a financial issue here in this country and political parties who believe more in punishment than in prevention. But I will not elaborate seeing this will get me into trouble with the forumrules;) Happy to continue through PM.
 

jsalt

Jill
Camino(s) past & future
Portugués, Francés, LePuy, Rota Vicentina, Norte, Madrid, C2C, Salvador, Primitivo, Aragonés, Inglés
Hi, just as a matter of interest, I have recently walked the Norte, and for the last week or two I was walking parallel with a French woman and her 16 year old charge, a troubled teenager, who had done something seriously bad, and was undergoing rehabilitation while on the camino. As far as I could see it was working. We stayed at the same albergues several nights, and celebrated an evening together in Santiago with other camino family. The teenager was very proud of her compostela. The French lady, who lives in Paris, said this was her fourth camino with a problem teenager. This girl was from Marseilles. Jill
 

greypacker

New Member
I am just sad for those who do not get the chance to experience a pilgrimage to Santiago. There is little space to "contemplate" during the last 100k this could be because it is too commercial or crowded, it could be because it is too short to lose yourself or possibly because there is little to challenge you physically. I found no magic in Santiago, it was just an over crowded tourist city. I wish there were several "End Points" where one's pilgrimage could be recognised by the Church. The compostella is a recognition, and we all need some external validation because we are social beings.
 
D

Deleted member 59555

Guest
I am just sad for those who do not get the chance to experience a pilgrimage to Santiago. There is little space to "contemplate" during the last 100k this could be because it is too commercial or crowded, it could be because it is too short to lose yourself or possibly because there is little to challenge you physically. I found no magic in Santiago, it was just an over crowded tourist city. I wish there were several "End Points" where one's pilgrimage could be recognised by the Church. The compostella is a recognition, and we all need some external validation because we are social beings.

Can some one please tell me that any rule change will not come into affect till after Sept, this year as I am walking the 800ks and getting my wife to travel to sarria to meet me and walk the last 100 ks as she could not do the 800ks. finishing without her would not be nice. Our flights are already booked as we live in New Zealand. What do people think?
 
Camino(s) past & future
23 May (2016)
Dear friends, the Fraternidad Internacional del Camino de Santiago, an activist group comprised of historians, sociologists, hospitaleros, and camino busybodies, last weekend met in Sarria to debate the latest issues and decide how to solve some problems.
Most of you know that one of our more controversial proposals is petitioning the cathedral to extend the 100 km. required to earn a Compostela certificate to 300 kilometers. Everyone asks why.
So I translated (pretty awkwardly in places, I know!) the explanatory document, a paper written by Anton Pombo, a camino historian who has lived much of the current renaissance on the trail -- he was one of the first to paint yellow arrows to Finesterre. This document was presented to the cathedral dean and cabildo last week. It has NOT been approved or put into effect!


Anton Pombo, International Brotherhood of Camino de Santiago.

Sarria, March 12, 2016
Ok, maybe it's just me, but I went on the Camino AS a pilgrim, in every sense of the word. The whole pilgrimage, beginning actually in Paris at the monument to St Jacques, then to SJPdP, and every step of the way. It was truly a marvelous, reverential, PILGRIM experience....UNTIL I GOT TO SARRIA.
From Sarria to Santiago was a miserable experience - the tourists mobbed the place, desecrated the markers, trampled on residents' lawns, stole their flowers, left underwear and garbage on the route, blocked the passage of pilgrims by marching 4 or 5 abreast (sometimes arm in arm), and simply made the last stage a most unpilgrimage-like event.

What true European pilgrims do who can't do the whole stretch at one time is start at the beginning, do what they can, save their passports, do the next stage the next year or whenever, and continue to save their passports until they've finished the whole thing.

The constant rebuttal I hear is "what about the elderly and the infirm who can't do the whole thing" I respectfully call hogwash. I passed by a young man with Muscular Dystrophy who was doing THE WHOLE THING on crutches, accompanied by his caretaker. Yeah, it took him a long time. But he did it.

As far as the elderly go, are you kidding? There wasn't one day on any stretch from Paris to Santiago where I didn't walk with, or in some cases, get passed by, a pilgrim well into their 80's. For four days I walked with an 86 year old retired physician from Mexico who told me with some pride this was his 4th Camino pilgrimage since he turned 70!

So, neither age nor infirmity nor time are barriers to doing a proper pilgrimage, but a proper pilgrimage isn't the crash course from Sarria.
I wish that more of the refugios would reserve space ONLY for pilgrims, and leave the tourists to the hotels.

I regret the tone of this comment, but I was so devastated by the damage done to the Camino by the tourists on the stretch from Sarria to Santiago that it has stayed with me as a dark memento, even now 6 months since I completed my pilgrimage.

I absolutely vote for the 300km designation.
 

SabineP

Camino = Gratitude + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
Please not again.

Why this discussion about true/ less true/ false/ genuine/ a pilgrim/ a Sarria tourist....?

It is so tiring.

It devaluates not only the achievement of the people who merely walked the " last 100 k" but it also devaluates ourselves.

This discussion saddens me enormously. That is all.
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
Can some one please tell me that any rule change will not come into affect till after Sept, this year as I am walking the 800ks and getting my wife to travel to sarria to meet me and walk the last 100 ks as she could not do the 800ks. finishing without her would not be nice. Our flights are already booked as we live in New Zealand. What do people think?

It is very unlikely that this change will come about this year - or ever. Also, the value of the pilgrimage is in actually doing it and not in the certificate you receive. Your wife can still walk with you, this is about the "end of the walk certificate" not about "being allowed to walk the Camino" - which anybody is - independent of creed or kilometers. Buen Camino, SY
 
Camino(s) past & future
23 May (2016)
Can some one please tell me that any rule change will not come into affect till after Sept, this year as I am walking the 800ks and getting my wife to travel to sarria to meet me and walk the last 100 ks as she could not do the 800ks. finishing without her would not be nice. Our flights are already booked as we live in New Zealand. What do people think?
Terry, of COURSE your wife can make the walk - the rule isn't about who can walk it, it's about the Pilgrim Certification process.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
So, neither age nor infirmity nor time are barriers to doing a proper pilgrimage, but a proper pilgrimage isn't the crash course from Sarria.

I'm sorry, but this is untrue on several different levels ...

1) "a proper pilgrimage" is not limited to how you personally define it (except for yourself and others like-minded)

2) those who go on a religious pilgrimage to Compostela by bus or by car or whatever are exactly pilgrims

3) and yes -- age and infirmity and time are all significant barriers against the foot pilgrimage regardless of dubious claims to the contrary ; the fact that some people can overcome these barriers does not mean that everyone could

4) And really -- if you have let yourself be distracted by the larger numbers of people between Sarria and Santiago, then maybe you needed to keep a bit more focus on your own pilgrimage instead of on other people's approaches to the Camino -- which regardless of how you feel about them, are exactly and precisely as valid and "proper" as your own
 
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Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances x 2 , Norte x 2 , Le Puy x 3 , Portuguese x 2,
Mont St Michel , Primitivo .
, beginning actually in Paris

You should be very proud Jennifer walking from Paris,

"The standard you walk past is the Standard you accept"
Thus we avoid Sarria onwards when walking , just bus it and start again from another area.
We were really shocked when we hit Melide after arriving there on the Primitivo.
In the last ten years the compostala's have TRIPLED
The numbers won't go backwards .
 
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Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
Can some one please tell me that any rule change will not come into affect till after Sept, this year as I am walking the 800ks and getting my wife to travel to sarria to meet me and walk the last 100 ks as she could not do the 800ks. finishing without her would not be nice. Our flights are already booked as we live in New Zealand. What do people think?
There is no rule change, just people who want to see a change.
Like @SabineP said - please don't let's go here again.

Have a great Camino @Terry W - that last 100kms for you and the full 100kms for your wife will be good. Maybe read the thread Walking with a Companion, especially as you will be 'walked in' and your wife just setting out from Sarria onwards.
Buen Camino to you both
 
D

Deleted member 59555

Guest

Well what this proves, is what I have been told, that deciding to walk the Camino makes you part of a larger family. In my family I have one wife and four adult daughters.(why do you think I am walking the Camino) mmm.
The same love and respect that I feel in my own family I also feel in the Camino family. Even if we get some little arguments now and again.
I wonder if we can reflect on the Gospel of the parable of the workers hired in the vineyard in the morning then midday then afternoon and all being treated equally.
Just a thought.
Love you all.
 

Peter Fransiscus

Be a Rainbow in someone else's cloud.
Camino(s) past & future
All that we are is the result of what we have thought.
Ok, maybe it's just me, but I went on the Camino AS a pilgrim, in every sense of the word. The whole pilgrimage, beginning actually in Paris at the monument to St Jacques, then to SJPdP, and every step of the way. It was truly a marvelous, reverential, PILGRIM experience....UNTIL I GOT TO SARRIA.
From Sarria to Santiago was a miserable experience - the tourists mobbed the place, desecrated the markers, trampled on residents' lawns, stole their flowers, left underwear and garbage on the route, blocked the passage of pilgrims by marching 4 or 5 abreast (sometimes arm in arm), and simply made the last stage a most unpilgrimage-like event.

What true European pilgrims do who can't do the whole stretch at one time is start at the beginning, do what they can, save their passports, do the next stage the next year or whenever, and continue to save their passports until they've finished the whole thing.

The constant rebuttal I hear is "what about the elderly and the infirm who can't do the whole thing" I respectfully call hogwash. I passed by a young man with Muscular Dystrophy who was doing THE WHOLE THING on crutches, accompanied by his caretaker. Yeah, it took him a long time. But he did it.

As far as the elderly go, are you kidding? There wasn't one day on any stretch from Paris to Santiago where I didn't walk with, or in some cases, get passed by, a pilgrim well into their 80's. For four days I walked with an 86 year old retired physician from Mexico who told me with some pride this was his 4th Camino pilgrimage since he turned 70!

So, neither age nor infirmity nor time are barriers to doing a proper pilgrimage, but a proper pilgrimage isn't the crash course from Sarria.
I wish that more of the refugios would reserve space ONLY for pilgrims, and leave the tourists to the hotels.

I regret the tone of this comment, but I was so devastated by the damage done to the Camino by the tourists on the stretch from Sarria to Santiago that it has stayed with me as a dark memento, even now 6 months since I completed my pilgrimage.

I absolutely vote for the 300km designation.
Hi , there is no " doing the whole thing ".
For one pilgrim the Camino is 100km and for a other pilgrim is it " what ever the distance " .
That's all , wish you well.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
I've always seen joining the "Sarria crowd" as the point where spiritually, you start to lose the solitude of the Camino and begin your re-entry back into normal life. And yes, for some whose Camino might not have been lengthy enough for their physical, emotional, intellectual, or spiritual needs -- that return to civilisation and its crowds can come as quite the shock.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I usually stay out of these discussions, but every now and then, I can't resist. So, here's the story of how I got over my "scorn of Sarria starters" (which I've told a number of times, so forgive me, old-timers). Two years ago, I was volunteering in the pilgrims' office writing Compostelas. One Sunday in May, we could hear a large group of boisterous teens outside the office. Eyeballs rolling, we braced for the onslaught of more "fake" pilgrims. As they came in one by one, we could see they were all wearing the same shirt, "Te queremos Juanito", with a picture of a teenage boy. Turns out they were all walking with Juanito's parents from Sarria, to arrive in Santiago on the anniversary of his untimely death. All compostelas were written "vicarie pro" and many tears were shed. And then the group gathered in the courtyard for a prayer. I realized then how ridiculous it was for me to think I had any business judging anyone's motives, authenticity, etc.

And like this, there were many other instances -- the young mother who walked from Sarria, while her husband drove with the 6 month old baby making stops to wait for mom so that the baby could be nursed at the appropriate time. This baby was near death at birth, and the mother promised Santiago she would walk in gratitude if he lived till 6 months. Or how about the father and son who hadn't spoken in 40 years and met in Sarria to walk together to see if they could reconcile..... I may walk many more kms than they did but I won't hazard a guess as to who were the more "real" pilgrims.

Buen camino, Laurie
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
As far as the elderly go, are you kidding?
Not at all. Those (including myself) who are healthy and fit enough to do it are very fortunate. Some humility and compassion are proper here.
So, neither age nor infirmity nor time are barriers to doing a proper pilgrimage, but a proper pilgrimage isn't the crash course from Sarria.
Of course, age and infirmity and time are all barriers to walking long distances. They are not, however, barriers to doing a proper pilgrimage. Attitude is.

We should not be badmouthing the crowds of which we are a part.

I was so devastated... that it has stayed with me as a dark memento.
Yikes. I wouldn't call that experience a proper tragedy. I hope you can put it in proper perspective soon.
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
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:
Ha, ha!! When you described a "Whole Pilgrimage" I'm sure you had your tongue firmly in your cheek! Please tell me that you did? I haven't heard that phrase for years! We all know that there is no such thing as a 'whole pilgrimage' starting from any place on the earth. Never was a disignated starting place, only a destination. [Certainly not Paris or Rome, or St Jean Pied de Port.]

Oh wait! There actually is one route - or two. The Camino Ingles from El Ferrol to Santiago is 'the whole pilgrimage'! And now, if you walk 25km in your own country, you can start at Coruna and walk the original, authentic, historic, no doubts about it, 'real' whole pilgrimage to Santiago - and earn a certificate.

"....went on the Camino AS a pilgrim, in every sense of the word".

Good for you! Not sure what sense you mean besides being a traveller to a strange land' or 'a pilgrimage to a holy shrine' but according to the Santiago cathedral website, a pilgrim is one who does the pilgrimage for the right reason and that is clearly and unequivocally, to revere the relics of Sant Iago in his tomb in the city named after him. The original, authentic, historic, undisputed origin of the pilgrimage to Compostela was to arrive at the tomb of the Saint, attend mass, say a prayer (at least the Apostle’s Creed, the Our Father) and a prayer for the intentions of the Pope; receive the eucharist, say confession, and earn an indulgence. It doesn't matter how you reach the tomb - train, plane or automobile - and millions of pilgrims do just that every year without setting foot on 'The Camino'. For walking pilgrims, it certainly doesn't matter where you start, how heavy the backpack is, where you sleep, what you eat and whether or not you rely on the 'universe' to provide for you. You don't get any extra Brownie points for starting in Paris, Milan or Rome. Mere 'walking' (whether 5 000 miles or 50 miles) is not the goal. Starting in a specific city, or in a specific country just doesn't cut it, sorry.

"So, neither age nor infirmity nor time are barriers to doing a proper pilgrimage, but a proper pilgrimage isn't the crash course from Sarria."

Speaking as a leader of 'Caracoles' not-so-able groups to Santiago (NB: on the last 100 km only) please don't use word like 'respectfully' and 'hogwash' in one sentence when referring to old and disabled people. That's not nice. (Say 5 Hail Mary's). When you have personally led groups of aged and disabled people from Sarria or El Ferrol to Santiago - perhaps taking 17 days doing 5 km - 7 km per day - then let's discuss this subject.
Our 90 year-old was no longer fit enough to walk a longer route (he's already done 9 Caminos so had nothing to prove) and wasn't financially able to spend almost a year walking to Santiago. Not at 5 km to 7km per day. Just do the math my dear - at 5km per day from Paris (to do the Whole Pilgrimage) would take him 320 days! We had a 74 year-old post-polio pilgrim with the Veloped walker in one of our groups who suffered excruciatingly every km and was the least able. It it took all her resources, energy and will to cover 5 km per day. I am so pleased that there wasn't someone there to tell her that her pain and efforts were Hogwash.

"...4 or 5 abreast (sometimes arm in arm), and simply made the last stage amost unpilgrimage-like event."
What is un-pilgrimage like about 'real' Spanish Catholic pilgrims who walk from Sarria to the tomb of their Patron Saint in youth groups, church groups, school groups, confraternity groups, with joy in their hearts? But then, every now and then, along comes a miserable foreigner with a long face frowning on their celebrations. You had your 1400 km of solem trudging. By the time you reached the Province of the Saint it was time to celebrate! The path to Santiago was never sacrosanct - it was a joyful, sometimes dangerous, exotic trail with huge crowds walking in caravans with mummers and troubadours; commercial touts on the paths close to Santiago accosting pilgrims, advertising their wares, taverns, ale houses.

"I wish that more of the refugios would reserve space ONLY for pilgrims, and leave the tourists to the hotels."
ABSOLUTELY - agree!! In 1988, a system of refugios was put in place on the Camino to (a) provide for pilgrims who could not afford to stay in hotels, pensions etc in towns and cities and (b) in remote places for all pilgrims to Santiago where there were no hoteles, pensiones or places for pilgrims to sleep. The refugios were never meant to compete with the established hospitality industry, but many pseudo 'poor pilgrim' (who can afford to stay in hotels) feel entitled to a place in the albergues which were never meant for them. They should stay in private, commercial albergues, hotels, pensions etc.
Of course I'm sure you followed that rule the whole way from Paris.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
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We all know that there is no such thing as a 'whole pilgrimage' starting from any place on the earth

Yes there is, although I generally agree with most of the excellent points that you make in your post -- from the altar of your parish church to the altar of your parish church via Santiago, walking every step of the way there and back, is "the whole pilgrimage" from start to finish.

...

No, I haven't done it either.
 
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