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Has the Camino lost its way?

Time of past OR future Camino
Podiensis, Portugues, Primitivo, 6 others
I just read this article.

Here are some points in English:

"That pilgrims abandon the French path, which is the initial one, the most
traveled one, which comes from medieval origins, clearly worries us. It is
being abandoned because of this overcrowding that is caused by the tourist
desire of the institutions, especially Galician ones. "It is the forceful
opinion of Anselmo Reguera, president of the Association of Friends of the
Camino de León. "The Xunta de Galicia and the archbishopric of Santiago have
encouraged that by completing the last hundred kilometers the Compostela be
awarded. This has created an economic gap from Sarria to Santiago to obtain
the Compostela, and that is not pilgrims, they are hikers.

"The thing about one hundred kilometers to obtain the Compostela is not new,
it comes from 1948, but it is also true that this formula has been increasing
in recent years, so that people do not understand the Camino as we understood
it before as a complete route and take a tasting trail, which is the last
hundred kilometers," says José Ignacio Gutiérrez. A reflection shared by the
Camino Francés Federation. "The Xunta de Galicia has appropriated the Camino,
legally, and has carried out a tourist campaign under the pretext of the
Camino. It talks about historically non-existent paths and the popularity has
transferred it to tourist aspects.

I have always, do now and always will say that there is no right or wrong camino, just different ones with different experiences, costs, difficulty, culture, language, etc.

I took particular note of the comment by Sr. Gutierrez: ...people do not understand the Camino as we understood it before as a complete route..." I can't contest that in the sense that even for us, the camino of today has indeed changed in some ways dramatically from our first camino. And I know that at least for us, we have been seeking lesser walked paths in recent years, even though we always make a point of visiting one of the places on the Frances we hold so dear from our first camino.
 
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I tend to think it's a matter of perspective...and all that on a continuum.
In comparison to the pilgrims who walked from home in the Middle Ages or who do so today, I am a softie, hopping on three planes and a train to get to wherever I deem my camino will start.
I remember walking with a Korean couple just after Arzua - they had started at Melide and were so full of the joy of what they were experiencing, whereas I had almost become jaded after 1600km. We parted ways when they went for afternoon tea at the bus accompanying their group - I was convicted to appreciate every moment and they were planning on returning to walk independently, something they had not realised was even possible.
 
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Well, things are different now. People are walking the Portuguese for several reasons. It is shorter for one than starting in SJPDP. It is also easier to get to Porto,. It does walk through a beautiful landscape (or so I have heard since I have not walked that way myself.) Other routes also have beautiful landscapes and while I love the CF, some people want more of the ocean or the mountains...

Also after Covid, more people do want private rooms and in general just seem less satisfied with a "place to sleep" which may not include a private room, sheets, blankets, towels and a private bathroom. They want the certainty of a reservation. It is sometimes hard for me personally to hear that pilgrims are not grateful for what is offered, but I can only police myself and not everyone else.

I just took a group of university students on the last 115 km of the CF. It rained a lot. We stayed in Xunta albergues which they seemed to like at the time, but their post-Camino reflections reveal the dissatisfaction of not having their own space and privacy so I expect if they walked again they might not choose albergues despite the thriftiness of communal living.
 
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Note that the article is dated Aug 19, 2022.
I think that has a lot to do with the alarmist tone. Still not recovered from the pandemic effect on travel at that point. The reason why the 2021 Holy Year was officially extended to cover 2022 as well. Looking at the Compostela figures for those who departed from SJPDP and Roncesvalles in 2023 compared to 2019 there is only a quite small drop from about 38,000 to 36,000. Not the drastic collapse the article seems to suggest. I have read elsewhere that the numbers staying in albergues has declined markedly in Castilla and Leon but that may be due more to a growing preference for private accommodation than any major decline in overall pilgrim numbers on the Camino Frances.
 
The points translated from the article read to me like sour grapes from Leon, but I admit freely that my command of Spanish isn't up to the task. But...

"That pilgrims abandon the French path, which is the initial one, the most
traveled one, which comes from medieval origins, clearly worries us..."

With all due respect to everyone's love of the Frances - the Frances is probably not the "initial" camino route, though certainly the most traveled (if memory serves????). I observe once again that the Primitivo goes past ruins of hospitales, monasteries, and churches that date back, in some cases, to the Codex Calixtinus or before. We've already noted on these boards that the writer of the Codex was *not* trying to provide an exhaustive list of routes to Santiago - just ones that originated in France.

To me, the article reads simply that not enough pilgrims are coming through that section of the Frances and staying in albergues in Leon to keep them open, and this is blamed on overmarketing and overcrowding in Galicia. I give a Gallic shrug to the worry.

But I admit extreme irritation at the following, if it was translated correctly.

Anselmo Reguera, president of the Association of Friends of the
Camino de León, is then quoted as saying... "This has created an economic gap from Sarria to Santiago to obtain the Compostela, and that is not pilgrims, they are hikers."

Obviously, *I* object strenuously to this characterization, and am hopeful that it's just bad translation. As a practicing Roman Catholic, only God and my confessor get to decide if *I'm* a pilgrim - and *I* don't get to decide that for *anyone* else.

Frankly, if the albergues in Leon fill up with people that pay their best and respect the property and the Camino, I suspect that these worthies won't really care if the occupants "think" they are pilgrims.
 
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"The thing about one hundred kilometers to obtain the Compostela is not new,
it comes from 1948, but it is also true that this formula has been increasing
in recent years, so that people do not understand the Camino as we understood
it before as a complete route and take a tasting trail, which is the last
hundred kilometers," says José Ignacio Gutiérrez. A reflection shared by the
Camino Francés Federation. "The Xunta de Galicia has appropriated the Camino,
legally, and has carried out a tourist campaign under the pretext of the
Camino.
I wonder what the 1948 reference is about? I walked my first Camino in 1990 and there was no 100km minimum distance rule for receiving a Compostela at that time. As I understand it that rule was introduced in connection with the 1993 Holy Year which did indeed mark the beginning of the Xunta's dominant role in developing and promoting the Caminos within Galicia.

Before 1993 numbers walking the Camino were miniscule by today's standards. 4,918 Compostelas were issued in 1990. In just two years that had almost doubled to 9,764. Up to that point the Camino had been developed mostly by voluntary effort and on a piecemeal basis by local groups of Amigos, confraternities, churches and local councils. The provision of refugios was haphazard, locally organised and mostly very low key. On my own 1990 Camino I slept on straw in a palloza in O Cebreiro, a monastic refugio without water or a toilet in Samos, and in an abandoned apartment completely free of furniture in Arca. The Xunta built the first dedicated albergues in preparation for the 1993 Holy Year and actively promoted it both in Spain and internationally. Very quickly church and municipal refugios were replaced by larger buildings under the direct control of the Xunta. Journalists like @Rebekah Scott were invited to see the route for themselves in 1993 in the hope of generating international interest. 99,436 Compostelas were issued in the 1993 Holy Year - ten times the number the previous year. The massive investment in both political effort and funding has paid off enormously. So much so that the Xunta have allocated 141 million euros for their preparations for the 2027 Holy Year. As early as 2002 when I walked my second Camino the change in the character of the Camino once across the border into Galicia was evident. Much more of an "official" project compared with the earlier stages.
 
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The points translated from the article read to me like sour grapes from Leon, but I admit freely that my command of Spanish isn't up to the task. But...

"That pilgrims abandon the French path, which is the initial one, the most
traveled one, which comes from medieval origins, clearly worries us..."

With all due respect to everyone's love of the Frances - the Frances is probably not the "initial" camino route, though certainly the most traveled (if memory serves????). I observe once again that the Primitivo goes past ruins of hospitales, monasteries, and churches that date back, in some cases, to the Codex Calixtinus or before. We've already noted on these boards that the writer of the Codex was *not* trying to provide an exhaustive list of routes to Santiago - just ones that originated in France.

To me, the article reads simply that not enough pilgrims are coming through that section of the Frances and staying in albergues in Leon to keep them open, and this is blamed on overmarketing and overcrowding in Galicia. I give a Gallic shrug to the worry.

But I admit extreme irritation at the following, if it was translated correctly.

Anselmo Reguera, president of the Association of Friends of the
Camino de León, is then quoted as saying... "This has created an economic gap from Sarria to Santiago to obtain the Compostela, and that is not pilgrims, they are hikers."

Obviously, *I* object strenuously to this characterization, and am hopeful that it's just bad translation. As a practicing Roman Catholic, only God and my confessor get to decide if *I'm* a pilgrim - and *I* don't get to decide that for *anyone* else.

Frankly, if the albergues in Leon fill up with people that pay their best and respect the property and the Camino, I suspect that these worthies won't really care if the occupants "think" they are pilgrims.
There are some Camino organizations which make no bones about judging who they believe is and is not a pilgrim so I am not surprised.
 
There are some Camino organizations which make no bones about judging who they believe is and is not a pilgrim so I am not surprised.
I can't help feeling that people have become very thin-skinned and touchy recently. All too ready to yell some variant of the J-word whenever an alternative opinion is voiced. If you have given serious thought to your own choices and are confident that they are justified why get so worked up about a different point of view? There were more than 446,000 pilgrims recorded in Santiago last year. Forums like this one and the various Facebook groups have thousands of members. It strikes me as unrealistic to believe that you can please all of the people all of the time no matter what you choose to do!
 
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I can't help feeling that people have become very thin-skinned and touchy recently. All too ready to yell some variant of the J-word whenever an alternative opinion is voiced. If you have given serious thought to your own choices and are confident that they are justified why get so worked up about a different point of view? There were more than 446,000 pilgrims recorded in Santiago last year. Forums like this one and the various Facebook groups have thousands of members. It strikes me as unrealistic to believe that you can please all of the people all of the time no matter what you choose to do!
People in general, are very sensitive and they think they are being personally criticized if they don't fit the "view" expressed. We see it here on the forum which is why the rule about not saying who is a tourist and who is a pilgrim was made. Other organizations do not have such rules and they say what they want.
 
The Camino, camino is. If some of the people who wander down it’s ways have no notion of camino that matters not a jot to camino. If the hoteliers, restaurateurs and merchants scattered along the ways are gazing, disgruntled, at the fortune afforded their Galician counterparts camino doesn’t give a shit, and neither do I.

For me Camino is camino. It has nothing to do with economic benefits, trading opportunities or balance sheet bottom lines. If the restaurateurs of Santiago want to complain about too many pilgrims in the same month as those of Leon winge about a shortage let them. None of that has anything to do with Camino
 
I agree completely, 100%, absolutely. I am verging on what cannot be written about on here, but - a pilgrimage is a process, an internal/external process, it isn't something that can be Googled to know the answer, or be done in a hiking holiday way ... a pilgrimage is an ancient deep internal process .. a process that commonly doesn't belong to this modern world, the world that believes you can just take something off a shelf, buy it, and experience it ...

Traditionally pilgrimage is religious and, I say again, it is a process, a mainly internal process - a process that is killed dead by using phones to stay in contact with 'home' and take useless photographs, and earbud music and getting online in the evening ..

It is very like this, pilgrimage ... if anyone goes into a retreat, monastic Christian or Buddhist or Yogic, the first thing that happens is that they take away your phones, your tablets, your earbud music, your fiction books - as the monks know that you cannot be there and process through the retreat if you are not there with only you and your mind and whatever thoughts and connection that comes.
This is the ideal of pilgrimage .. everything else is bucket list hiking. So I understand exactly what they are saying, I have been saying it for twenty years now, sadly watching the holiday bucket list hike take over from the pilgrimage that it is supposed to be.

This isn't an attack on hikers - I know they enjoy their holidays, nor is it a call to join a religion - it is about being human, the deeper questions; the riddle of existence, of what we are, why we are, even where we are, that which wakes us at three in the morning, questioning one's life, the why of it ... and if a human enters the Camino as a pilgrim and these are uppermost in their minds ... it can lead to something quite wonderful.
 
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I do wonder how it is these days, to 'discover' the Camino Frances and the other routes into SdC for the first time, with so many vested interests in it, and with so many promoting it for their own ends.. it's easy to see the pilgrimage concept being lost in the mix for many. It seems a world away from my first camino, not all that many years ago..
 
I have walked and enjoyed the Camino Francis ten times since 2013.
I have obsolutely no interest in walking the Portuguese which lacks the appeal to me of the Camino Frances. All the videos I have seen from the Portuguese looks flat and boring with little Cràic (Fun).
So I will keep the faith and walk the Frances until I drop which maybe quite soon.
 
Over my dozen caminos I have seen so many who have found it by accident, or tagged on to a group, or came to it thinking of it as an extension of Mexico, or hoped to get a course credit, or just wanted a walk away from things-- for time not to think. I've even encountered pilgrims who walked a thousand km in fulfillment of a vow or as instructed by their confessor! But they all learned something from it, and benefitted from it.

Xuntas have their concerns, as they will, and they're not ours; but they are providing greater and more conscientious support than they did 20 years ago. I am astonished at the numbers, but walked/limped into Santiago last October and saw the same sort of pilgrims and experiences I saw in 2002.
 
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I have walked and enjoyed the Camino Francis ten times since 2013.
I have obsolutely no interest in walking the Portuguese which lacks the appeal to me of the Camino Frances. All the videos I have seen from the Portuguese looks flat and boring with little Cràic (Fun).
So I will keep the faith and walk the Frances until I drop which maybe quite soon.

The Frances is a wonderful route, still, I believe.
It's the one I always suggest for a first time Pilgrim.
It has an energy that seems to come to us through the ages and the millions of souls who have passed along it.

That energy will always be there I think.
You just have to shut out the 'noise' for it to find you.

For others, often on 'repeat' Caminos, we might seek the solitude and 'peace' of other routes.
There are plenty of those for us to enjoy too.
 
Some of the comments after the article are as interesting as the article itself. One of them mentioned that the Camino Francés may have lost ´market share´, but it hasn´t lost in total numbers (even those have been more than made up since, and witness the recent complaints about the difficulty of finding accommodation). The main increase has been on the Portugués, the others have remained almost static or even, e.g. the VdlP, fallen. But there seems to be a contradiction in the article: is it bemoaning the fact that the Francés has lost its popularity or that it has lost its character? I would question whether either is true and if so whether they are mutually exclusive.

It did make the point that the Junta of Castilla y Léon has been comparatively uninterested in the Camino. Even if there is an undercurrent of inter-regional enmity here, my impression is that there is some justification for that.

It also makes the point that some of the camino routes are based on tenuous evidence, but unless you are a fanatical purist, does it matter?

My view? The Camino changes all the time, it is whatever the individual makes of it. It isn´t for me to try and define what it should be for anyone else.
 
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I have certainly learned a lot about religion, spirituality, myself, and so many other things while walking and experiencing the Camino. Gratitudes. I’ve returned to the Francés many times because it keeps reminding me of all the people and experiences I’ve had… for which I will be forever grateful.
For me, I can’t imagine The Camino losing It’s Way. I wonder if perhaps it isn’t humanity that, in fact, has lost its Way…
 
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As this may be my last Camino I approach it with hope and trepidation , will it have the same effect on me , will the events and people give me the same joy , will I be able to complete it . All these feelings are normal and to be expected it is up to me to open myself up and be in the moment as I walk and hope that its magic is still there . Will let you know after I finish in June !
 
But there seems to be a contradiction in the article: is it bemoaning the fact that the Francés has lost its popularity or that it has lost its character? I would question whether either is true and if so whether they are mutually exclusive.
I agree. I "lost my way" navigating through the conflated arguments in the article.
 
A selection of Camino Jewellery
Traditionally pilgrimage is religious and, I say again, it is a process, a mainly internal process [...] This is the ideal of pilgrimage .. everything else is bucket list hiking. So I understand exactly what they are saying, I have been saying it for twenty years now, sadly watching the holiday bucket list hike take over from the pilgrimage that it is supposed to be.

This isn't an attack on hikers - I know they enjoy their holidays, nor is it a call to join a religion - it is about being human, the deeper questions; the riddle of existence, of what we are, why we are, even where we are, that which wakes us at three in the morning, questioning one's life, the why of it ... and if a human enters the Camino as a pilgrim and these are uppermost in their minds ... it can lead to something quite wonderful.

I think it's fine to say that is what the Camino should be, but I do have to wonder if it ever was.

This is not a rhetorical question (I do not know the answer): but how many of the pilgrims in medieval times actually went on a deeply spiritual journey; and how many went because they needed a break from mundane life and this was one of the few options society offered them; or went because the whole congregation went and they could conveniently join; or went because they were rich nobles who could afford a vacation?

When I read the Canterbury Tales I don't get the sense that these were all supremely pious people on a journey of spiritual self-improvement: a lot of them just seem to want to have fun.

Surely the same would have applied to plenty of medieval pilgrims walking to Santiago - that a lot of them were mainly occupied with enjoying the company, telling stories and jokes, eating food, flirting, collecting baubles, hitching rides on carts -- rather than pondering the deep questions of life?

But I can't judge if there are (relatively) more or less pilgrims like that nowadays.
 
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This article from 2022 is the usual write-up of news taken from various different articles in other news media and it is quite poor.

I googled the names of the various actors quoted in the article to see what they actually said, or meant to say. The only interesting bit of information I got out of this was a link to the actual data for 2022 that the Leon Amigos publishes, see el estudio estadístico de los peregrinos que pasaron por la ciudad de León durante el año 2022 – o aquí, su versión completa. They have been analysing data of pilgrims passing through Leon for 20+ years, based on those who stay in the albergue-hostels of Leon. I've not seen their newer study-analysis for 2023 but I gather from other news articles that they said that 2023 was a smashing year in Leon and broke records.

It is not clear in the article what "they" want: The same share of the total number of pilgrims arriving in Santiago as Galicia has? The same "massification"?

I seriously doubt that the Camino Frances, whether within Castile and Leon or over the whole 800 km, has lost half of its pilgrims as the editor believes and as the title of the article wants us to believe. If a "market share" goes down from say 80% to 50% because relatively more pilgrims walk on the Portuguese or only within Galicia while at the same time the total number of pilgrims significantly increases over 10+ years then no pilgrims are lost. This is simple lower secondary school maths. Example:

Total number in 2009 is 150,000. 80% of this is 120.000 pilgrims.
Total number in 2022 is 450,000. 50% of this is 225.000 pilgrims. Hardly what one calls loss.

Also, the article uses a comparison between the year 2010 which was still a traditional Holy Year and the year 2022 which was not a traditional Holy Year, partly because of social change and partly because of lingering effects of the pandemic.

Also, as so often, percentages are thrown about without making it clear what they refer to, i.e. "percentage of what?" is not specified and remains a mystery!

As to peregrino, turista and senderista - yawn.
 
it's fine to say that is what the Camino should be, but I do have to wonder if it ever was
One of the persons quoted in the article is Anselmo Reguera, president of the Association of Friends of the Camino de León. One can read here that he walked his first Camino in 1981. When they refer to what the Camino was, they are not referring to the Middle Ages or to the 19th century. They mean how it was in the 1980s and early 1990s.
 
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Note that the article is dated Aug 19, 2022.
The subject does keep repeating itself though. A number of news websites today are reporting on a conference held in Camponaraya for representatives of local government and other interested parties to discuss the current state of the Camino Frances and options for the future. In several of the reports the mayor of Camponaraya mentions a 20% decline in numbers on the Camino Frances - though I cannot see any detail of how such a figure has been reached and over what period the decline has been observed. From a quick glance at the Santiago pilgrim office figures I would have expected any decline to have been far smaller.

 
One of the persons quoted in the article is Anselmo Reguera, president of the Association of Friends of the Camino de León. One can read here that he walked his first Camino in 1981. When they refer to what the Camino was, they are not referring to the Middle Ages or to the 19th century. They mean how it was in the 1980s and early 1990s.
As someone who walked my first Camino more than thirty years ago I do feel very strongly that the character of the Camino has changed markedly in that period. Not simply in terms of pilgrim numbers and increasingly sophisticated infrastructure but also in the outlook and expectations of those who walk. A qualitative change as well as a quantitative one.
 
In several of the reports the mayor of Camponaraya mentions a 20% decline in numbers on the Camino
I've tried to find out what he actually said and what this figure is based on. One article quotes it as "Para el alcalde de Camponaraya, Eduardo Morán, estos encuentros, que se iniciaron en su etapa como presidente de la Diputación, tienen que servir también para reflexionar sobre la pérdida de peregrinos que optan por otras rutas como la portuguesa y que, en los últimos años, ha sido del 20%.

As I tried to explain earlier: 20 percent of what? I think this may be about the "market share". Relatively speaking, more pilgrims than before opt for other Caminos than the Camino Frances. This may be the meaning of "having lost them". They could have come but they didn't and went elsewhere.

OK, so the Camino Francés numbers of pilgrims don't grow as wildly as those on the Portuguese or maybe they even go down slightly. Seen from the point of view of us who want to walk along the CF, is that a loss in either the literal sense and the figurative sense?
 
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A selection of Camino Jewellery
As I tried to explain earlier: 20 percent of what? I think this is about the "market share". Relatively speaking, more pilgrims than before opt for other Caminos than the Camino Frances. This is the meaning of "having lost them". They could have come but they didn't and went elsewhere.
The trend has also been for shorter Caminos close to the minimum distance required for a Compostela. Roncesvalles used to be thought of as the start of the Camino by many Spanish people but in practice very few choose to walk from there these days. Far more now start from Sarria and so do not pass through towns like Camponaraya.
 
I agree completely, 100%, absolutely. I am verging on what cannot be written about on here, but - a pilgrimage is a process, an internal/external process, it isn't something that can be Googled to know the answer, or be done in a hiking holiday way ... a pilgrimage is an ancient deep internal process .. a process that commonly doesn't belong to this modern world, the world that believes you can just take something off a shelf, buy it, and experience it ...

Traditionally pilgrimage is religious and, I say again, it is a process, a mainly internal process - a process that is killed dead by using phones to stay in contact with 'home' and take useless photographs, and earbud music and getting online in the evening ..

It is very like this, pilgrimage ... if anyone goes into a retreat, monastic Christian or Buddhist or Yogic, the first thing that happens is that they take away your phones, your tablets, your earbud music, your fiction books - as the monks know that you cannot be there and process through the retreat if you are not there with only you and your mind and whatever thoughts and connection that comes.
This is the ideal of pilgrimage .. everything else is bucket list hiking. So I understand exactly what they are saying, I have been saying it for twenty years now, sadly watching the holiday bucket list hike take over from the pilgrimage that it is supposed to be.

This isn't an attack on hikers - I know they enjoy their holidays, nor is it a call to join a religion - it is about being human, the deeper questions; the riddle of existence, of what we are, why we are, even where we are, that which wakes us at three in the morning, questioning one's life, the why of it ... and if a human enters the Camino as a pilgrim and these are uppermost in their minds ... it can lead to something quite wonderful.
You say your post is not meant as an attack on "hikers" and I gladly believe that that was not your intention. It would be more convincing though if you would limit yourself to your own motivation for being on the camino and not compare it to ways other people experience and enjoy their Camino/ hike
 
I think it's fine to say that is what the Camino should be, but I do have to wonder if it ever was.

This is not a rhetorical question (I do not know the answer): but how many of the pilgrims in medieval times actually went on a deeply spiritual journey; and how many went because they needed a break from mundane life and this was one of the few options society offered them; or went because the whole congregation went and they could conveniently join; or went because they were rich nobles who could afford a vacation?

When I read the Canterbury Tales I don't get the sense that these were all supremely pious people on a journey of spiritual self-improvement: a lot of them just seem to want to have fun.

Surely the same would have applied to plenty of medieval pilgrims walking to Santiago - that a lot of them were mainly occupied with enjoying the company, telling stories and jokes, eating food, flirting, collecting baubles, hitching rides on carts -- rather than pondering the deep questions of life?

But I can't judge if there are (relatively) more or less pilgrims like that nowadays.
I like this analogy in a way.

I think it is quite certain that many of the "original" "pure" "whatever other adjective you wish" pilgrims were actually walking for fear of not being allowed entry to heaven for varying reasons. And one can only wonder if they had their scrolls and feather pens confiscated at the doors of each monastery so as not to detract from their pilgrimage.

I think as has been wisely mentioned further up, and the advice we tend to all offer out when the question arises of first time pilgrims/tourists/hikers is that you have to walk your own Camino seen through your own eyes and no one else's - the rest is just noise (albeit quite interesting and thought provoking noise at times).

My first Camino last year was magical and a privilege, so personally it hasn't lost it's way for all, even if that could be considered to be an opinion born out of naivety for some.
 
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In parts, the article in question refers to percentages calculated and to numbers of pilgrims counted by the Amigos del Camino association of the Leon region. Out of curiosity, I had a look at what they had actually published themselves.

Below is the list of the number of pilgrims that they counted in 2022 and in the previous 10 years. They base their statistics on those who stay in selected albergues and hostal-albergues (details in the published study, see earlier link).

For the 2022 data, they presented their results in March 2023. I guess that they will communicate their data for 2023 very soon. I vaguely remember that numbers for 2023 will be in the region of 60.000 pilgrims although I don't recall whether that refers to an estimate of all Camino pilgrims walking through the Leon region, i.e. those who also stay in other privately run/commercial accommodation or not. In any case, I am confident that 2022 was still an exception and not a trend.

Leon.jpg
 
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The figures in the article refer to the situation in the Spanish region of Castilla y Leon. They are based on surveys and data transmitted from eleven local albergues and hostels. These data are collected and processed by the local Camino Association. It says so on the first page of their 2022 study (link already posted earlier):
Data source.jpg
 
They are based on surveys and data transmitted from eleven local albergues and hostels.
I think that means that the complaints in the articles are mainly about a decline in albergue use rather than changing total pilgrim numbers. The use of private accommodation was heavily boosted by Covid anxieties and the closure of some albergues. I don't think that trend has yet been fully reversed. And probably will not be as more people every year are choosing to avoid albergues altogether.
 
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In Leon we always stay in a hotel so we can stay an extra day is we want and dont have to lug our backpacks around waiting for another albergue to open. Wondering if cities like Leon and Burgos are seeing a decline in albergue use because there is more to see and a wider diversity of housing.
 
Hostel Leon allows stays of more than 1 night, and I suspect several of the others do too. It's the 'more pure' type of albergue that will limit to one night.
Edit: looking at booking.com, most of the hostels listed above allow 2 nights so that is not the reason for the 'unpopularity' of these places.
 
I agree completely, 100%, absolutely. I am verging on what cannot be written about on here, but - a pilgrimage is a process, an internal/external process, it isn't something that can be Googled to know the answer, or be done in a hiking holiday way ... a pilgrimage is an ancient deep internal process .. a process that commonly doesn't belong to this modern world, the world that believes you can just take something off a shelf, buy it, and experience it ...

Traditionally pilgrimage is religious and, I say again, it is a process, a mainly internal process - a process that is killed dead by using phones to stay in contact with 'home' and take useless photographs, and earbud music and getting online in the evening ..

It is very like this, pilgrimage ... if anyone goes into a retreat, monastic Christian or Buddhist or Yogic, the first thing that happens is that they take away your phones, your tablets, your earbud music, your fiction books - as the monks know that you cannot be there and process through the retreat if you are not there with only you and your mind and whatever thoughts and connection that comes.
This is the ideal of pilgrimage .. everything else is bucket list hiking. So I understand exactly what they are saying, I have been saying it for twenty years now, sadly watching the holiday bucket list hike take over from the pilgrimage that it is supposed to be.

This isn't an attack on hikers - I know they enjoy their holidays, nor is it a call to join a religion - it is about being human, the deeper questions; the riddle of existence, of what we are, why we are, even where we are, that which wakes us at three in the morning, questioning one's life, the why of it ... and if a human enters the Camino as a pilgrim and these are uppermost in their minds ... it can lead to something quite wonderful.
TOTALLY AGREE… my Camino experiences have been great spiritual encounters with me myself and God. I am a hiker, walker, and a non conformist Catholic … I dont have a Compostella and Ive never felt compelled to receive one. I read IVAR almost daily just because … I want to go back every year and like to keep in touch with that part of the world. Its sunny here in Rockville Md …. Im praying for Camino spirit ….
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Hostel Leon allows stays of more than 1 night, and I suspect several of the others do too. It's the 'more pure' type of albergue that will limit to one night.
Edit: looking at booking.com, most of the hostels listed above allow 2 nights so that is not the reason for the 'unpopularity' of these places.
I forget to say we stay in a hotel where we can use points and stay for free more than one night. Normally I would opt for the traditional albergue otherwise.
 
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I think the issue -- to me and others who want to recapture the Camino as it was before tour groups, luggage, and booking ahead became common -- is the feeling of pilgrimage and self-discovery. This IMHO can only be accomplished by walking the distance and carrying your own pack -- at your own pace. Although we all don't hike for religious reasons, many of us do for spiritual or deeply personal reasons. That has become more difficult as the Camino becomes increasingly commercialized. I find, especially as one approaches Santiago, many people moving with paid companies in groups, carrying day packs, and loudly treating the experience as a bucket list holiday. It's clearly not a pilgrimage to them and it takes away from the experience of those of us who are seeking meaning in the experience. I know. I know. "It's your Camino." "Don't judge." I've heard that said so many times to justify the changes that have become inevitable as the Camino become commercialized. But, as I plan my final push into Santiago next month (I have only been able to go in stages and I am now approaching 70 ), I find myself dreading the last 100 km and wonder if it will even be worth it, given that I seek contemplation and inner spiritual strength from the experience. The last time (2022) I managed to get Covid and was stuck in Astorga for weeks. So many of the pilgrims coming through seemed more intent on sprinting to the end than the experience. Eye-opening.
 
But, as I plan my final push into Santiago next month (I have only been able to go in stages and I am now approaching 70 ), I find myself dreading the last 100 km and wonder if it will even be worth it, given that I seek contemplation and inner spiritual strength from the experience.

Mito, I suspect that in March you will be fine. I felt the same when I walked for a week in Nov 2022 from SJPP and was wonderfully surprised as to how quiet, uncrowded and spiritual the whole experience was.
And if it does get busy, I'm sure I don't need to tell you, but adapt your route. Stop at 'off stage' locations, walk later in the day etc and the crowds will melt away.
 
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I can't help feeling that people have become very thin-skinned and touchy recently. All too ready to yell some variant of the J-word whenever an alternative opinion is voiced. If you have given serious thought to your own choices and are confident that they are justified why get so worked up about a different point of view? There were more than 446,000 pilgrims recorded in Santiago last year. Forums like this one and the various Facebook groups have thousands of members. It strikes me as unrealistic to believe that you can please all of the people all of the time no matter what you choose to do!
I couldn't agree with you more regarding the overall thin skinness of this forum. It seems people will run each other over with their truck to prove how inclusive and ____________ (insert any other term you like) they are. Voicing any other opinion but what is accepted by the "majority" or is not touchy, feely enough will send you to perigrino purgatory. Any and all opinions condemning judgemental statements/opinions are just as judgemental as well. Why can't people just say what they feel and just leave it at that. If you have something to say, than say it. Even if it is a strong rebuttal, unless you are threatening to kill someone's dog, than you should be able to say what you want and the rest of us should not suffer from cardiac arrest or feel so deeply wounded you lose your appetite for your morning Cheerios.
 
Mito, I suspect that in March you will be fine. I felt the same when I walked for a week in Nov 2022 from SJPP and was wonderfully surprised as to how quiet, uncrowded and spiritual the whole experience was.
And if it does get busy, I'm sure I don't need to tell you, but adapt your route. Stop at 'off stage' locations, walk later in the day etc and the crowds will melt away.
Thank you, Felice. I have always walked in March for those very reasons. We'll see how it goes this time as I will straddle Easter!
 
Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.
You can observe a lot by just watching.
You better cut the pizza in 4 pieces because I’m not hungry enough to eat 6.
It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much.

Spiritual pilgrims rely on commercial opportunities to enjoy the spirit.
Recreational tourists rely on spiritual pilgrims to season their experience.
Success here is envied and hoped to be captured there.
If Heaven is overcrowded, do you want to stay in the other place?
 
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I think the issue -- to me and others who want to recapture the Camino as it was before tour groups, luggage, and booking ahead became common -- is the feeling of pilgrimage and self-discovery. This IMHO can only be accomplished by walking the distance and carrying your own pack -- at your own pace. Although we all don't hike for religious reasons, many of us do for spiritual or deeply personal reasons. That has become more difficult as the Camino becomes increasingly commercialized. I find, especially as one approaches Santiago, many people moving with paid companies in groups, carrying day packs, and loudly treating the experience as a bucket list holiday. It's clearly not a pilgrimage to them and it takes away from the experience of those of us who are seeking meaning in the experience. I know. I know. "It's your Camino." "Don't judge." I've heard that said so many times to justify the changes that have become inevitable as the Camino become commercialized. But, as I plan my final push into Santiago next month (I have only been able to go in stages and I am now approaching 70 ), I find myself dreading the last 100 km and wonder if it will even be worth it, given that I seek contemplation and inner spiritual strength from the experience. The last time (2022) I managed to get Covid and was stuck in Astorga for weeks. So many of the pilgrims coming through seemed more intent on sprinting to the end than the experience. Eye-opening.
Mito,
I have walked this stretch twice in the last year. The first time with my husband to recon for my student group and then again this winter with my students. We walked a simple Camino. Churches were open and even this winter we attended a Mass where we were given a blessing and stamp despite the fact it was not "pilgrim season". There are still many opportunities and resources for the traditional pilgrim. Go in peace on your journey.
Janet
 
I just read this article.

Here are some points in English:

"That pilgrims abandon the French path, which is the initial one, the most
traveled one, which comes from medieval origins, clearly worries us. It is
being abandoned because of this overcrowding that is caused by the tourist
desire of the institutions, especially Galician ones. "It is the forceful
opinion of Anselmo Reguera, president of the Association of Friends of the
Camino de León. "The Xunta de Galicia and the archbishopric of Santiago have
encouraged that by completing the last hundred kilometers the Compostela be
awarded. This has created an economic gap from Sarria to Santiago to obtain
the Compostela, and that is not pilgrims, they are hikers.

"The thing about one hundred kilometers to obtain the Compostela is not new,
it comes from 1948, but it is also true that this formula has been increasing
in recent years, so that people do not understand the Camino as we understood
it before as a complete route and take a tasting trail, which is the last
hundred kilometers," says José Ignacio Gutiérrez. A reflection shared by the
Camino Francés Federation. "The Xunta de Galicia has appropriated the Camino,
legally, and has carried out a tourist campaign under the pretext of the
Camino. It talks about historically non-existent paths and the popularity has
transferred it to tourist aspects.

I have always, do now and always will say that there is no right or wrong camino, just different ones with different experiences, costs, difficulty, culture, language, etc.

I took particular note of the comment by Sr. Gutierrez: ...people do not understand the Camino as we understood it before as a complete route..." I can't contest that in the sense that even for us, the camino of today has indeed changed in some ways dramatically from our first camino. And I know that at least for us, we have been seeking lesser walked paths in recent years, even though we always make a point of visiting one of the places on the Frances we hold so dear from our first camino.
Could be, might be, possibly be; however, another perspective is that the Camino 'never' loses its way . . . it is only people that lose their way but, then again, this is probably wrong because everyone one . . . everyone in life is on a path of some kind or another, whether it be a terrifically good path, a lazy path or a horribly/tragically wrong path. This, in and of itself, is good, wonderfully good.

It is not where you are on your path; rather, it is whether you are moving forward in some way or another even if it is one tiny slow step at a time.

What is, currently, with the Camino is as it should be as it mirrors humanity and, besides, times change, they always do.

A good article to ponder and contemplate as all viewpoints have their intrinsic value, whether they align with your own or not.

The world has always had suffering; it currently has suffering; and it always will have suffering. The question might be . . . what have you recently done to alleviate this suffering?
 
I took particular note of the comment by Sr. Gutierrez: ...people do not understand the Camino as we understood it before as a complete route..."
I think there was never an idea of a particular starting point to the Camino de Santiago. I can't speak to the earliest times, but in the 80s, when I first came across it, there was the idea that four routes across France converged into two passes (Somport and Cize) and merged by Puente la Reina.

I think there have been a couple of major changes in our understanding of it, though.

One is that in the 80s, there was little or no consideration to other routes to Santiago. There really was just one path across Spain (with a couple of options at the beginning) that was discussed or considered. Now there is much more an idea that "The Camino" is not a single path but a web or network of routes covering Iberia and Europe.

The other is that in the 80s, I think, the goal for most pilgrims would be to walk as far or as much of the route as possible, rather than as little, as seems to be increasingly the case.

Ultimately, I don't think the Camino has lost its way, much as some of us old timers like to grumble. I think it is stronger than ever. If we ever doubt the continuing transformative powers of the Camino, we can just read some of the personal stories that have recently been shared in some other threads in this forum.
 
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I like this analogy in a way.

I think it is quite certain that many of the "original" "pure" "whatever other adjective you wish" pilgrims were actually walking for fear of not being allowed entry to heaven for varying reasons. And one can only wonder if they had their scrolls and feather pens confiscated at the doors of each monastery so as not to detract from their pilgrimage.

I think as has been wisely mentioned further up, and the advice we tend to all offer out when the question arises of first time pilgrims/tourists/hikers is that you have to walk your own Camino seen through your own eyes and no one else's - the rest is just noise (albeit quite interesting and thought provoking noise at times).

My first Camino last year was magical and a privilege, so personally it hasn't lost it's way for all, even if that could be considered to be an opinion born out of naivety for some.
Good point.

One can read medieval accounts of less than “pure” pilgrims along with people upset at getting hustled by merchants gouging them or royal trains carrying their personages upon litters elbowing the hoi polloi aside -- perhaps an older variant of loud people on group tours. This isn't the first time crowds and commercialization has been a problem.

Being human we tend to want our experience of something to remain static and can be disappointed by change, much like when we revisit a favorite vacation spot and find there are more hotels cropping up in what used to be a quieter place because other people are looking for the same thing we’ve been enjoying for years. We lament how it’s been ruined and maybe it has for us so time to move on and let the more recent arrivals who like the additional activity have their day too. Conditions and the popularity of routes ebbs and flows and will likely continue to do so as it has for twelve centuries. In ten or twenty years a lot of the more casual hikers will probably find some other hotter spot, but our obstacles and irritations are opportunities for others. One upside of more crowds, especially on the Frances, is more albergues spaced closer together that makes the Camino more doable for people with physical limitations. The Camino is what one makes of it and there are other quieter routes -- along with fewer amenities -- if one wants an experience similar to what the Frances was like a generation ago.

It’s also true that the nature of blogs encourages people to read more into what people are saying than they should and critically parse their language in a manner they probably wouldn’t if actually sitting down and having a conversation that would allow one to ask questions and clarify what others actually mean!
 
I agree completely, 100%, absolutely. I am verging on what cannot be written about on here, but - a pilgrimage is a process, an internal/external process, it isn't something that can be Googled to know the answer, or be done in a hiking holiday way ... a pilgrimage is an ancient deep internal process .. a process that commonly doesn't belong to this modern world, the world that believes you can just take something off a shelf, buy it, and experience it ...

Traditionally pilgrimage is religious and, I say again, it is a process, a mainly internal process - a process that is killed dead by using phones to stay in contact with 'home' and take useless photographs, and earbud music and getting online in the evening ..

It is very like this, pilgrimage ... if anyone goes into a retreat, monastic Christian or Buddhist or Yogic, the first thing that happens is that they take away your phones, your tablets, your earbud music, your fiction books - as the monks know that you cannot be there and process through the retreat if you are not there with only you and your mind and whatever thoughts and connection that comes.
This is the ideal of pilgrimage .. everything else is bucket list hiking. So I understand exactly what they are saying, I have been saying it for twenty years now, sadly watching the holiday bucket list hike take over from the pilgrimage that it is supposed to be.

This isn't an attack on hikers - I know they enjoy their holidays, nor is it a call to join a religion - it is about being human, the deeper questions; the riddle of existence, of what we are, why we are, even where we are, that which wakes us at three in the morning, questioning one's life, the why of it ... and if a human enters the Camino as a pilgrim and these are uppermost in their minds ... it can lead to something quite wonderful.
Until ill health intervened I undertook all my long distance journeys on foot not as a pilgrim, a rambler or a hiker but simply as a walker. It’s virtually impossible to spend all day outdoors over a number of days without reflecting on “the deeper questions; the riddle of existence etc”. Something wonderful is always likely to result irrespective of how the traveller defines themselves. The mysteries of the universe and the riddle of existence exercise both pilgrims and hikers alike as well as those who listen to earbud music. An earlier poster observed that Camino couldn’t care less about us, our motives or our beliefs. Whatever our identity we are all engaged on a similar journey or we probably wouldn’t be on this site. Let’s just take people as we find them.
 
This is the ideal of pilgrimage .. everything else is bucket list hiking.

The thing with ideal pilgrimages is that they don't exist; never have. We know the picture that Medieval pilgrims painted of themselves, not how they actually behaved. I am sure they entertained themselves with music or reading along the way just as we do, along with other pastimes. They just never recorded it. Probably because of a sudden shortage of power chargers around the XIV century.

Who made the ideal pilgrimage? No one. People in all ages have gone about the Camino differently and with different motives and experiences. We should all be happy about that. Worst case scenario, an ideal could make people want to follow a rather strict example that never was, don't you think?
 
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The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
Lo de los cien kilómetros para obtener la Compostela no es nuevo, viene del año 1948, pero es cierto también que esa fórmula se ha ido incrementando en los últimos años, de manera que la gente no entiende el Camino como lo entendíamos antes como una ruta completa y realiza un Camino degustación que son los cien kilómetros últimos", dice José Ignacio Gutiérrez.

"people don't understand the Camino as we understood it before as a complete route and do a taste of a Camino, which is what the last hundred kilometers are."

I don't see what the dispute is here. Go online and you'll find multiple tour operators offering just that - a "Taste of the Camino de Santiago" from Sarria to Santiago.
 
Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.
You can observe a lot by just watching.
You better cut the pizza in 4 pieces because I’m not hungry enough to eat 6.
It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much.

Spiritual pilgrims rely on commercial opportunities to enjoy the spirit.
Recreational tourists rely on spiritual pilgrims to season their experience.
Success here is envied and hoped to be captured there.
If Heaven is overcrowded, do you want to stay in the other place?
I agree, and think it is important to keep the interdependence of spiritual and commercial interests in mind. The spiritual minority have always benefited from the commercial interests. Part of God's plan, I believe. The Hebrews got through the famine with the help of the Egyptians. Jesus and Paul moved through their missions on roads built for commercial and military purposes. Part of the responsibility of being a spiritually inclined pilgrim is to maintain course on your personal and unique inner path while travelling physically along the material-world path that your God -- acting through the less spiritually inclined -- provided for you.
 
The other is that in the 80s, I think, the goal for most pilgrims would be to walk as far or as much of the route as possible, rather than as little, as seems to be increasingly the case.
@Kathar1na posted some interesting statistics from Roncesvalles from 1987 - not so long before our first Caminos. The total number of pilgrims recorded by Roncesvalles that year was about half of the entire Compostela total for the year. Even though there was no specific minimum distance to receive a Compostela. Which suggests that at that time there was a very strong perception of the Camino as being principally a long-distance route.
 
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I just read this article.

Here are some points in English:

"That pilgrims abandon the French path, which is the initial one, the most
traveled one, which comes from medieval origins, clearly worries us. It is
being abandoned because of this overcrowding that is caused by the tourist
desire of the institutions, especially Galician ones. "It is the forceful
opinion of Anselmo Reguera, president of the Association of Friends of the
Camino de León. "The Xunta de Galicia and the archbishopric of Santiago have
encouraged that by completing the last hundred kilometers the Compostela be
awarded. This has created an economic gap from Sarria to Santiago to obtain
the Compostela, and that is not pilgrims, they are hikers.

"The thing about one hundred kilometers to obtain the Compostela is not new,
it comes from 1948, but it is also true that this formula has been increasing
in recent years, so that people do not understand the Camino as we understood
it before as a complete route and take a tasting trail, which is the last
hundred kilometers," says José Ignacio Gutiérrez. A reflection shared by the
Camino Francés Federation. "The Xunta de Galicia has appropriated the Camino,
legally, and has carried out a tourist campaign under the pretext of the
Camino. It talks about historically non-existent paths and the popularity has
transferred it to tourist aspects.

I have always, do now and always will say that there is no right or wrong camino, just different ones with different experiences, costs, difficulty, culture, language, etc.

I took particular note of the comment by Sr. Gutierrez: ...people do not understand the Camino as we understood it before as a complete route..." I can't contest that in the sense that even for us, the camino of today has indeed changed in some ways dramatically from our first camino. And I know that at least for us, we have been seeking lesser walked paths in recent years, even though we always make a point of visiting one of the places on the Frances we hold so dear from our first camino.
 
@Kathar1na posted some interesting statistics from Roncesvalles from 1987 - not so long before our first Caminos. The total number of pilgrims recorded by Roncesvalles that year was about half of the entire Compostela total for the year. Even though there was no specific minimum distance to receive a Compostela. Which suggests that at that time there was a very strong perception of the Camino as being principally a long-distance route.
[emphasis added by me]

The original article, in the translation provided by Anthony says:
The thing about one hundred kilometers to obtain the Compostela is not new,
it comes from 1948

So it would seem there was a minimum distance in the 80s, although the fact that neither of us knew of it shows how much attention was being paid to it by people seeking to walk a Camino.
 
The Camino de Santiago, aka the Camino Frances, has ALWAYS been a long-distance route. Short and easy religious trips are "romerias." A pilgrimage traditionally is about simplicity, traveling with the minimum, learning what you can do without, trusting in God and fellow travelers to meet your needs. Sure, there's always been big-spenders and joy-riders, but truly, this particular path is a PILGRIMAGE, which by definition is not just a hiking holiday. I wish hiking holidaymakers would respect the needs of pilgrims as much as they demand the pilgrims respect their hiking holiday attitudes.
 
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So it would seem there was a minimum distance in the 80s, although the fact that neither of us knew of it shows how much attention was being paid to it by people seeking to walk a Camino.
Do you have any idea what the 1948 reference is to? I can't find any mention of it online. The 1990 CSJ guide I used on my first Camino made no mention of any minimum distance rule. It did explain that one might be called upon to give a personal account of one's motives and understanding of pilgrimage when requesting a Compostela. I can't recall any mention of a minimum distance in Elias Valiña's guidebook either though I admit that it could easily have been missed through my negligible Spanish. I have definitely read something by Anton Pombo with additional commentary from @Rebekah Scott which linked the introduction of the 100km rule to the 1993 Holy Year. Though that was in the context of a polemic arguing for the increase of the minimum distance to 300km. An idea which I find even less appealing than the 100km rule.
 
A pilgrimage traditionally is about simplicity, traveling with the minimum, learning what you can do without, trusting in God and fellow travelers to meet your needs.
@Rebekah Scott I have very recently read Jack Hitt's "Off The Road". An account of a Camino journey during the astonishing Holy Year of 1993. A lot of what he describes there will be very familiar to both of us. As you know I walked the Frances again last year both solo in midwinter and in company with a mutual friend in summer. So I was very aware on reading Hitt's book that the Camino which he describes and which we both first encountered has largely disappeared now. It is very hard to convey to more recent arrivals that the shiny, easy and comfortable Camino of 2024 is an evolution from a much simpler but more demanding creature. And even more difficult to express why some of us regret that change in some aspects without sounding like one of the characters in the Monty Python "Four Yorkshiremen" sketch. I do not think the recent trends can be reversed. I just hope that there will remain opportunities across the wide spectrum of Camino routes for all of us to feel at home.
 
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I know I´m derailing the thread, but on a point of accuracy, that sketch was first performed on the ´At Last the 1948 Show´, on ITV in 1967. But I take your point.
Thank you. Being a natural pedant myself I appreciate attention to detail when I see it! :) I do like the version with Tim Brooke Taylor and Marty Feldman. But the international audience here are probably more familiar with the later versions!
 
Huh? He refers to 1948 - a Holy Year btw. I think that the line about a 100 km minimum requirement in 1948 is simply wrong.
Maybe. I don't know enough to argue with José Ignacio Gutiérrez, the spokesperson of the Association of Friends of the Camino de Santiago of Spain. I do know that no one was talking about such a limit in the 80s. The idea was to walk as much of the Camino as one could, not as little.
 
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And that remains the idea for many of us!
True. But increasingly there are many whose aim appears to be to tick the pilgrim office boxes and collect the paper prize with the absolute minimum of effort - physical or mental. Trading off cash for effort in the use of luggage services, travel agencies and so on. I have some personal rules for myself which many might consider outdated and possibly even draconian. I dislike much of the commercialisation of the Caminos. But I will not publicly criticise an individual for making use of whatever services are legitimately available to them. Provided someone stays within the laws of Spain, the house rules of wherever they may be staying, and the pilgrim office rules (if they choose to ask for a Compostela) then they are free to do as they wish. They do not need my permission but equally they are not entitled to my approval or endorsement.
 
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The Camino, camino is. If some of the people who wander down it’s ways have no notion of camino that matters not a jot to camino. If the hoteliers, restaurateurs and merchants scattered along the ways are gazing, disgruntled, at the fortune afforded their Galician counterparts camino doesn’t give a shit, and neither do I.

For me Camino is camino. It has nothing to do with economic benefits, trading opportunities or balance sheet bottom lines. If the restaurateurs of Santiago want to complain about too many pilgrims in the same month as those of Leon winge about a shortage let them. None of that has anything to do with Camino
#whathesaid
 
As Rebekah stated; the Camino Frances is a pilgrimage. By definition a journey to a sacred or holy place. But pilgrimage is much more than a journey to a physical place; it is meant to be a dualistic journey where the physical leads to the internal or spiritual journey. It is meant to be a liminal experience, where one is between two worlds. The everyday one left at home, and the one that they will return to transformed (hopefully). Ideally you should leave all your comforts behind (how better to appreciate them when you return?) My sadness stems from those that will never experience any sort of transformation on the Camino. The benefits of tour operators, smart phones and luggage transport have spared them the struggle of the journey, along with the transfiguration. I still think all should be welcome, regardless of their motivations or ignorance (of pilgrimage.) We never know who will be enlightened on the journey, regardless of how it is undertaken. Lead a horse to water…etc, etc...
 
I wish hiking holidaymakers would respect the needs of pilgrims as much as they demand the pilgrims respect their hiking holiday attitudes.
Please elaborate some on the first part of your statement above (I put it in bold). You've had more opportunity to see this than I.
I think we all have met the kind of person she's referring to. Anyway elaboration would lead down the road to breaking the Forum rules.

It is very hard to convey to more recent arrivals that the shiny, easy and comfortable Camino of 2024 is an evolution from a much simpler but more demanding creature.
And it's equally difficult to explain the value of engaging with this simpler and more demanding creature to those who are looking for something else. We essentially live on different planets - and those who live on the planet of the older way seem to be a minority. As @Bradypus says, hopefully there will continue to be paths to suit occupants of both planets for a long time to come.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
We essentially live on different planets - and those who live on the planet of the older way seem to be a minority. As @Bradypus says, hopefully there will continue to be paths to suit occupants of both planets for a long time to come.
Well, I certainly have no idea of what planet I occupy. I find the dichotomy to be artificial and divisive.
 
I don't know enough to argue with José Ignacio Gutiérrez, the spokesperson of the Association of Friends of the Camino de Santiago of Spain.
Is that an argumentum ab auctoritate 😇? I simply don't believe everything straight away that I read online or in a newspaper article, especially when it appears to be the one and only source to date, I know that people can be convinced that their incorrect facts are correct facts - even esteemed and/or qualified authorities in their fields, that their memory can fail, that news articles have misprints and contain muddled up info.

Now matter how Compostelas (I think at the time they were still called Compostelanas, or maybe even just diplomas or certificados, and the text still confirmed that the holder had confessed and taken the Eucharist - unlike today's Compostela) were awarded in 1948 it is of no relevance for today's 100 km requirement which was communicated to the public by letter dated 6 July 1999 - copies available in electronic form. The letter was signed by a Cathedral representative, with Oficina de Peregrinaciones S.A.M.I Catedral in the letterhead, and it was addressed to the parishes of the Caminos de Santiago and the albergue managers and the Amigos del Camino and the Delegados Diocesanos. Some time later the 100 km requirement was also printed in the Camino credencials for the first time.

I read up a little on the Holy Year 1948. Apparently it was characterised by a massive Catholic youth movement. Something like 70,000 to 100,000 Catholic young people went on pilgrimage and arrived in Santiago. It would be interesting to read what Camino or pilgrimage meant in those days to people. I am a bit bemused by this thread, and the thought occurred to me whether the equation Camino = pilgrimage is even correct. We read - and some write - about the Camino losing its way or its spirit. Replace the word Camino by the word pilgrimage. Does pilgrimage lose its way? Or its spirit? Just wondering ...
 
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Is that an argumentum ab auctoritate 😇? I simply don't believe everything straight away that I read online or in a newspaper article, especially when it appears to be the one and only source to date, I know that people can be convinced that their incorrect facts are correct facts - even esteemed and/or qualified authorities in their fields, that their memory can fail, that news articles have misprints and contain muddled up info.

Now matter how Compostelas (I think at the time they were still called Compostelanas, or maybe even just diplomas or certificados, and the text still confirmed that the holder had confessed and taken the Eucharist - unlike today's Compostela) were awarded in 1948 it is of no relevance for today's 100 km requirement which was communicated to the public by letter dated 6 July 1999 - copies available in electronic form. The letter was signed by a Cathedral representative, with Oficina de Peregrinaciones S.A.M.I Catedral in the letterhead, and it was addressed to the parishes of the Caminos de Santiago and the albergue managers and the Amigos del Camino and the Delegados Diocesanos. Some time later the 100 km requirement was also printed in the Camino credencials for the first time.

I read up a little on the Holy Year 1948. Apparently it was characterised by a massive Catholic youth movement. Something like 70,000 to 100,000 Catholic young people went on pilgrimage and arrived in Santiago. It would be interesting to read what Camino or pilgrimage meant in those days to people. I am a bit bemused by this thread, and the thought occurred to me whether the equation Camino = pilgrimage is even correct. We read - and some write - about the Camino losing its way or its spirit. Replace the word Camino by the word pilgrimage. Does pilgrimage lose its way? Or its spirit? Just wondering ...
Thank you.
Does pilgrimage lose its way?
I think that the answer depends on the pilgrim. I understood a little of what is a pilgrim as a result of my first Camino pilgrimage walk. It is entirely up to me to hold fast to the gift I received in the experience. My guess is that anyone seeking will find, no matter the spiritual/religious focus of the search.
 
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Well, I certainly have no idea of what planet I occupy. I find the dichotomy to be artificial and divisive.
Perhaps I should have used another metaphor. All I know is that I do not 'get' the mindset of a lot of people I encounter along the way. And they do not 'get' mine.

Clear differences actually do exist out there, and here on the Forum - and I think openly talking about that is both honest and important. We have different intentions, is all - and that's not divisive unless someone wants to take it that way. We do need somehow to find mutual respect; mostly (here at least) we manage reasonably well.

That said, I find it unpleasant to be around lots of people in party mode. That's not divisive either, just my experience. So I find quieter ways to walk.
 
I think it's fine to say that is what the Camino should be, but I do have to wonder if it ever was.

This is not a rhetorical question (I do not know the answer): but how many of the pilgrims in medieval times actually went on a deeply spiritual journey; and how many went because they needed a break from mundane life and this was one of the few options society offered them; or went because the whole congregation went and they could conveniently join; or went because they were rich nobles who could afford a vacation?

When I read the Canterbury Tales I don't get the sense that these were all supremely pious people on a journey of spiritual self-improvement: a lot of them just seem to want to have fun.

Surely the same would have applied to plenty of medieval pilgrims walking to Santiago - that a lot of them were mainly occupied with enjoying the company, telling stories and jokes, eating food, flirting, collecting baubles, hitching rides on carts -- rather than pondering the deep questions of life?

But I can't judge if there are (relatively) more or less pilgrims like that nowadays.
You got there before me.

I presume none of the people criticising the Sarria starters did it barefoot in sackcloth and ashes whilst scourging themselves, so surely they are not real pilgrims either.
 
I think it's fine to say that is what the Camino should be, but I do have to wonder if it ever was.

This is not a rhetorical question (I do not know the answer): but how many of the pilgrims in medieval times actually went on a deeply spiritual journey; and how many went because they needed a break from mundane life and this was one of the few options society offered them; or went because the whole congregation went and they could conveniently join; or went because they were rich nobles who could afford a vacation?

When I read the Canterbury Tales I don't get the sense that these were all supremely pious people on a journey of spiritual self-improvement: a lot of them just seem to want to have fun.

Surely the same would have applied to plenty of medieval pilgrims walking to Santiago - that a lot of them were mainly occupied with enjoying the company, telling stories and jokes, eating food, flirting, collecting baubles, hitching rides on carts -- rather than pondering the deep questions of life?

But I can't judge if there are (relatively) more or less pilgrims like that nowadays.
I doubt very much that medieval pilgrims made the journey just for a break from everyday life. It was a difficult and often dangerous undertaking and embarking on a pilgrimage would not be taken lightly, in fact it was ordered as a punishment in some cases. While there was no doubt some frivolity and entertainment to be had at times, Chaucer's jolly pilgrims are a work of satirical fiction.
 
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I mentioned already that the reference to how the Camino was in the past refers to how it was perceived or framed during the second half of the 20th century and not to the Middle Ages. We know next to nothing about the inner journey of medieval Santiago pilgrims. They did not blog and they did not write about it. What little we have in the way of reports written by medieval pilgrims themselves is a description of their outer journey.

What we know about how they ought to feel and the attitude to adopt comes from sermons and similar. I am happy to be corrected on this but that is my impression and I did read a few original medieval (and slightly later) pilgrim reports. Erm ... being preached to ... maybe that did not change that much over the centuries. 🤭
 
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I doubt very much that medieval pilgrims made the journey just for a break from everyday life. It was a difficult and often dangerous undertaking and embarking on a pilgrimage would not be taken lightly, in fact it was ordered as a punishment in some cases. While there was no doubt some frivolity and entertainment to be had at times, Chaucer's jolly pilgrims are a work of satirical fiction.
I am just a ‘bucket list’ hiker really and have no problem with that! I had never really heard of the word ‘pilgrim’ before I came across this forum. Maybe vaguely! It gives off ancient images! I certainly wouldn’t want to be seen as one.. it sounds so unglamorous! Not for the Tinder profile! I still don’t really know what it is tbh! I think I know what ‘pilgrimage’ is but beyond that…? Do pilgrims go home and live a certain lifestyle after SDC? I have no idea.

I see the posts about best trainers, best underwear, best restaurants, what to buy to carry euros, long distance taxis, snorers, shower hoggers, alarm setters, spreadsheets and struggle a bit given this forum is the Camino ‘hardcore’. Aren’t we nearly all just hikers who are taking a bit of time out and reflecting? And spending a huge amount of money to do so! Some may embrace hardship as a ‘lifestyle choice’ on Camino but that seems about it to me!

Aren’t we all just the same?
 
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I am just a ‘bucket list’ hiker really and have no problem with that! I had never really heard of the word ‘pilgrim’ before I came across this forum. Maybe vaguely! It gives off ancient images! I certainly wouldn’t want to be seen as one.. it sounds so unglamorous! Not for the Tinder profile! I still don’t really know what it is tbh! I think I know what ‘pilgrimage’ is but beyond that…? Do pilgrims go home and live a certain lifestyle after SDC? I have no idea.

I see the posts about best trainers, best underwear, best restaurants, what to buy to carry euros, long distance taxis, snorers, shower hoggers, alarm setters, spreadsheets and struggle a bit given this forum is the Camino ‘hardcore’. Aren’t we nearly all just hikers who are taking a bit of time out and reflecting? And spending a huge amount of money to do so! Some may embrace hardship as a ‘lifestyle choice’ on Camino but that seems about it to me!

Aren’t we all just the same?
We are more the same than we are different, but we each believe our own way is likely the better one. I can only say what is best for me. I am sad though when I suggest something simple and get a reply that the other is seeking something more upscale.
 
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I am sad though when I suggest something simple and get a reply that the other is seeking something more upscale.
A friend of mine walked the Shikoku pilgrimage circuit and posted a blog about it. The first comment from a reader was someone asking if there was luggage transport available because otherwise they were not interested... :rolleyes:
 
I am just a ‘bucket list’ hiker really and have no problem with that! I had never really heard of the word ‘pilgrim’ before I came across this forum. Maybe vaguely! It gives off ancient images! I certainly wouldn’t want to be seen as one.. it sounds so unglamorous! Not for the Tinder profile! I still don’t really know what it is tbh! I think I know what ‘pilgrimage’ is but beyond that…? Do pilgrims go home and live a certain lifestyle after SDC? I have no idea.

I see the posts about best trainers, best underwear, best restaurants, what to buy to carry euros, long distance taxis, snorers, shower hoggers, alarm setters, spreadsheets and struggle a bit given this forum is the Camino ‘hardcore’. Aren’t we nearly all just hikers who are taking a bit of time out and reflecting? And spending a huge amount of money to do so! Some may embrace hardship as a ‘lifestyle choice’ on Camino but that seems about it to me!

Aren’t we all just the same?
No. I am not a hiker. You did ask! 😇
 
Please elaborate some on the first part of your statement above (I put it in bold). You've had more opportunity to see this than I. With respect.
I see the pilgrimage as a great big historic church that is open to tourism as well as worshipers. It bothers me when the tourist visitors ("hikers") crash through the pews and stand in the aisle and flash their photos during worship times, and are deeply offended when the worshipers tell them to be respectful and cut it out... to have the tourists tell the worshipers to reschedule their services, go somewhere else to pray, or consider everyone who comes through the door a full member of the congregation, or else they're being "judgmental" or "divisive."
There's something very sad and derelict about a spiritual site that no longer is home to a worshiping congregation, because tourism pressure has driven them out.
But that's the danger on the Camino. The spectators are crowding out the participants.
 
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Aren’t we nearly all just hikers who are taking a bit of time out and reflecting?


Superficially, maybe.

We're all travelling along the same route - walk, eat, sleep, repeat.

Look closer, and we do it in our unique way. So many different expectations, attitudes, methods, abilities, we're none of us the same as the next person.

You're a bucket list hiker. I'm not. Others are tourists, pilgrims, walkers, seekers, whatever. All different.
 
I am just a ‘bucket list’ hiker really and have no problem with that! I had never really heard of the word ‘pilgrim’ before I came across this forum. Maybe vaguely! It gives off ancient images! I certainly wouldn’t want to be seen as one.. it sounds so unglamorous! Not for the Tinder profile! I still don’t really know what it is tbh! I think I know what ‘pilgrimage’ is but beyond that…? Do pilgrims go home and live a certain lifestyle after SDC? I have no idea.

I see the posts about best trainers, best underwear, best restaurants, what to buy to carry euros, long distance taxis, snorers, shower hoggers, alarm setters, spreadsheets and struggle a bit given this forum is the Camino ‘hardcore’. Aren’t we nearly all just hikers who are taking a bit of time out and reflecting? And spending a huge amount of money to do so! Some may embrace hardship as a ‘lifestyle choice’ on Camino but that seems about it to me!

Aren’t we all just the same?
This is what has made the camino so special to me: we are all so very, very different. Among the many I have met over the years, so many are unforgettable characters who walk the camino for a seemingly endless list of reasons.

In the simplest terms, a pilgrimage is going to a shrine. When I walk to Santiago, it's a pilgrimage. When I walked to Manresa, it was a pilgrimage. When I walked to Lourdes and Fatima, they were pilgrimages. And I was a pilgrim. When I walk the Camino Baztan in a few months, from Bayonne to Pamplona, it's a walk. And I'm a walker.

I must admit that I was indeed changed after my first pilgrimage. Of course, this wasn't the first time in my life that an experience changed me, but each in different ways. The long walk from SJPdP from Santiago gave me lots of time to think and reflect, lots of experiences with fellow pilgrims who inspired me. And most important, it gave me faith and hope in humankind. Day after day, people were kind, thoughtful, helpful. It's a utopian world that we can aspire to or in fact live...on the camino.
 
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It bothers me when the tourist visitors ("hikers") crash through the pews and stand in the aisle and flash their photos during worship times, and are deeply offended when the worshipers tell them to be respectful and cut it out...
Thank you for the explanation; I understand what you wrote better now. I was thinking your prior post was more of a "hiker" versus pilgrim issue. I see now that your issue was more of a "hiker" versus worshipper or local thing. I'm sure I'm oversimplifying with this but I don't see any need for further clarification.

As for my quote of you; Our first church visit was at the start of a mass (Pamplona cathedral). We sat in the back of the nave and the mass occured in the neighboring open chapel. A parishioner had to get up, go to the nave and give a very loud shush to the tourists.
 
I doubt very much that medieval pilgrims made the journey just for a break from everyday life. It was a difficult and often dangerous undertaking and embarking on a pilgrimage would not be taken lightly, in fact it was ordered as a punishment in some cases. While there was no doubt some frivolity and entertainment to be had at times, Chaucer's jolly pilgrims are a work of satirical fiction.
I am sure that it was one component for many people along with a sense of adventure for others and also a desire to escape an unhappy home or an oppressive Lord. In a much more restrictive society Pilgrimage could be one of the few outlets available to many people.

Much pilgrimage was also local and done in groups, and would certainly be not more than a social outing for some. Much of the walking from Sarria would fall into this capacity and is not therefore wholly out of character.
 
Clear differences actually do exist out there, and here on the Forum - I think openly talking about that is both honest and important. We have different intentions, is all
Clear differences exist, but the extreme stereotypes are very rare. Most of us are interesting and well-meaning bundles of complexity, and all of us annoy others at times. An open and honest discussion about ourselves should not spend much energy on putting ourselves or other people into two categories that we are tempted to argue about.

I really don't understand what different intentions are, or what mine are. As far as I can tell, I am just bumbling my way through life, reacting to my circumstances. Somehow I developed an interest in the Camino, so here I find myself.
 
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Thank you for the explanation; I understand what you wrote better now. I was thinking your prior post was more of a "hiker" versus pilgrim issue. I see now that your issue was more of a "hiker" versus worshipper or local thing
It seemed that she was saying that it's a disrespectful hiker vs a worshiper thing.
 
Do pilgrims go home and live a certain lifestyle after SDC?
Yes, I have. I have changed. I don't worry about or keep many things. I have downsized my overall footprint and now I think about how I can further simplify my life. I am much more physically active and walk much more. I appreciate people and experiences now than I did before. There may not be a dramatic change for many, but I personally have changed.
 
Yes, I have. I have changed. I don't worry about or keep many things. I have downsized my overall footprint and now I think about how I can further simplify my life. I am much more physically active and walk much more. I appreciate people and experiences now than I did before. There may not be a dramatic change for many, but I personally have changed.
Well done! Good to hear!
 
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As a practicing, cradle Catholic, I love that people of different faiths, little or no faith, pure tourists, and hikers come to walk or bike, the Camino, whichever Camino leads them to a deeper relationship with their faith, and/or a deeper understanding of themselves and humanity. The camino travelers’ perspective on their status as a pilgrim or non-pilgrim is up to them. Why should it matter what others think? Besides, you can’t please everyone. Even Jesus had his detractors and haters.
 
I haven't read through all of this properly but I just wanted to pick up on one of the threads that has been touched on:

But there seems to be a contradiction in the article: is it bemoaning the fact that the Francés has lost its popularity or that it has lost its character? I would question whether either is true and if so whether they are mutually exclusive.

OK, so the Camino Francés numbers of pilgrims don't grow as wildly as those on the Portuguese or maybe they even go down slightly. Seen from the point of view of us who want to walk along the CF, is that a loss in either the literal sense and the figurative sense?

If people quoted in the article are from León then I guess they have a vested interest in the Francés maintaining its 'domination' of the market. But that aside, in a general sense, I only see it as a good thing that people are branching out onto other routes, if that's indeed what's happening.

Actually I want more of that. It's a theme we thought about a lot when we were walking the CPI, which has facilities but no pilgrims (we saw literally none in 10 days) while at the exact same time people on the Francés were saying it was bursting at the seams.

We were wondering how to spread pilgrims out more, both for the (financial) benefit of villages and regions on routes that are currently less popular, and for the pilgrims themselves to not be walking among big crowds with the problems that come with that (bed races etc). Yes, the Francés is unique so I see the attraction, but I'm not sure how having its raw numbers and/or market share continuing to grow is really a good thing at this point, as it's already pretty much at capacity in the peak months.
 
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Thank you for the explanation; I understand what you wrote better now. I was thinking your prior post was more of a "hiker" versus pilgrim issue. I see now that your issue was more of a "hiker" versus worshipper or local thing. I'm sure I'm oversimplifying with this but I don't see any need for further clarification.

As for my quote of you; Our first church visit was at the start of a mass (Pamplona cathedral). We sat in the back of the nave and the mass occured in the neighboring open chapel. A parishioner had to get up, go to the nave and give a very loud shush to the tourists.
I think Rebekah was writing metaphorically, and not literally about the physical church structures on the Camino. She did begin with:
I see the pilgrimage as a great big historic church that is open to tourism as well as worshipers.
I read her as equating "pilgrims" with "worshippers" and "hikers" with "tourists". I agree with a lot of what she says, although not everything, of course. She loses me at the end when she says:
The spectators are crowding out the participants.
As I wrote above, I think the Camino is still healthy and continues to afford plenty of opportunity for spiritual and religious experience and transformation. I don't draw the clear line between spectators and participants that she does, I think it is much more of a spectrum than a binary.
 
There never has been a pamphlet written on the “Tyranny of Spectacle” (pace Jo Freeman) but there’ll be those here who been indicated, photographed, beheld as “a Pilgrim” even if they were just conducting a stroll through a landscape. There’ll be those, coming in off the Plata or the Norte, who’ll have been asked when they’ll walk the real Camino. Perhaps, even here, there’ll be those who looked at the glossy photos, read the puff and bought an experience they didn’t get.

And for oh so too many it don’t mean a thing if that botafumeiro don’t swing…
 
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I believe that many on this valuable forum are thick-skinned, to keep participating...

This is a perennial discussion and it reminds me of other major historic shifts. I could not help but think of debates about different forms of monasticism in the late middle ages: east/west, old/new, tradition/innovation, solitary/communal, interior/exterior. We're also surrounded by a world in flux, and I have no doubt the perspectives enunciated here are integral now. Just as then, they go well beyond the walls of monasteries, the paths of Camino, or religion as such. From one of my favorite lectures on the topic, by an Irish scholar whose voice simply sings - it is about early monasticism, but I imagine you could adapt it to "pilgrimage" today and recognize similar debates:

“It’s like punching a hole in the wall. Punching a hole in the wall made for us by academic routines and by present day concerns, to sort of catch, through that precious gap, something of the strange but familiar scent of a very ancient Christianity. Like the smell of a field which the Lord has blessed.”

“[they] acted rather as the catalyst for the social imagination of an entire society”

“those who supported [them]…did so because they saw their own social dilemmas writ large”
 
I doubt very much that medieval pilgrims made the journey just for a break from everyday life. It was a difficult and often dangerous undertaking and embarking on a pilgrimage would not be taken lightly, in fact it was ordered as a punishment in some cases. While there was no doubt some frivolity and entertainment to be had at times, Chaucer's jolly pilgrims are a work of satirical fiction.


I’ve heard medieval historians say that some did go on pilgrimage to see something of the big world beyond their village…
 
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Remove "Camino" and replace it with ... the college you went to, the neighborhood you grew up in, Europe as you saw it as an 18 YO, the Masai Mara before "Out of Africa" was released ... and this same conversation is held daily, everywhere.

There are *2 billion* more people on the planet today than there was a mere 25 years ago -- everything is going to be more crowded. And it is all well and good to long for "simpler times" when you're only living those simpler times for 32 days and you don't need patrons to keep your cafe open or cell service to call a taxi to take you to a hospital when you break your ankle.
 
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As a point of order I managed without a cell phone for at least 54 years and have yet to establish what exactly is the benefit of having one now. And if I’m careless enough to break my ankle on some backwoods trail I’d frankly be astonished if a taxi was the solution.

And, and I appreciate I’m pushing the forums boundaries here but, wtf has a business owner’s commercial decisions on where they locate their enterprise to do with Camino? “If I build it they will divert pilgrims my way”?

I get seriously exercised by the concepts that the Camino should, the “authorities” should, they “the amorphous unknown all powerful someone” should. The only, one and only, person who has any responsibility for anything on Camino is the individual that undertakes it.
 

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