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Origins of pilgrimage

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06,CF;13,CP;17,SSal;19,Ingles
Reading @vanrobin's post about the present location of a statue of Santiago Matamoros in SdeC Cathedral led me to search for the above idea. This website appeared first. Any contributions that will help expand knowledge and understanding is bound to be useful. Political correctness has its place in C20 and C21.
Santiago, Matamoros? Oh dear! A friend who is a historian has alerted me to the dangers of reading the past with modern understandings!
I look forward to learning from other forum members.
 
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A friend who is a historian has alerted me to the dangers of reading the past with modern understandings!
I've not yet looked at the article but I need to reply. I have just commented about this in an email conversation. And in exactly the same context that led you to a search. Bingo! Or ... great minds ...? 😇
 
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Oh dear! A friend who is a historian has alerted me to the dangers of reading the past with modern understandings!
Fortunately we do change, in fits and starts.
And so what inspires pilgrimage is bound to shift. We are no longer inspired by a saint's purported manifestation as a killing machine.

(I think that chapel is vastly improved sans hideous statue and plastic flowers hiding severed heads.)

This website appeared first. Any contributions that will help expand knowledge and understanding is bound to be useful.
There are so many kinds of pilgrimages and motivations for them, in all faith traditions.
But one thing we don't talk about much in this context is hope.
I'm inspired in thinking this by @mspath 's post about Lourdes.\
Hope for cure, hope for healing of the dark places of the heart, hope to find our better angels along the way...or even just a bit of clarity and inspiration.

Santiago Matamoros has lost his inspirational potential for us, unlike 1000 years ago.
Santiago the pilgrim-missionary? That is up to each of us.
 
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Bradypus

Migratory hermit
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Too many and too often!
Political correctness has its place in C20 and C21.
Santiago, Matamoros? Oh dear!
Now and again you come across a church where Santiago Matamoros has been removed. With a conspicuous blank space left behind. Or an image where the unfortunate Moors are made invisible with strategically placed flowers. It is a challenging image for 21st century sensibilities. But like it or not it was the idea of a triumphant militant Santiago Matamoros which built the town as an international pilgrimage destination - not the much loved and far more approachable Santiago Peregrino we see so much today. A lot of Christian history leaves a sour taste in modern mouths but it cannot simply be airbrushed away.
 
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A lot of Christian history leaves a sour taste in modern mouths but it cannot simply be airbrushed away.
Very true.
At the same time I am glad we are putting those statues away someplace less conspicuous. And inclining our pilgrimages to connection instead.
There is enough hatred in the world without glorifying it.
 

Bradypus

Migratory hermit
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Too many and too often!
Very true.
At the same time I am glad we are putting those statues away someplace less conspicuous. And inclining our pilgrimages to connection instead.
There is enough hatred in the world without glorifying it.
I agree. My concern is that we modern humans have a remarkable gift for self-deception and anachronistic thinking. So it becomes very easy to assume that today's inclusive "non-judgmental" Camino is the way things have always been. It is very easy to project an idealised and sanitised notion of history into the past. Especially if by doing so you paper over present day consequences. Sometimes we just have to face unpleasant facts head on.
 

David

Veteran Member
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First one in 2005 from Moissac, France.
Retrodiction is seeing the past through the values of today - leads to 'woke' - is not good. Contemporary context is all.

As for the origins of pilgrimage? No one knows.

We now know that some thousands of years ago the tribes from what is now northern Scotland and the islands made their way south to the great stone henge near Salisbury.
We don't know how often these gatherings were - it was a long journey - but we do know from the remains of fire pits and animal bones that they were huge gatherings and those people drove their cattle south with them for the feasting that took place. We can infer that all of the tribes of our islands as well as western Europe (they were the same people) went there at the same time.
I would say that this was pilgrimage.
 
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Bradypus

Migratory hermit
Time of past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
We now know that some thousands of years ago the tribes from what is now northern Scotland and the islands made their way south to the great stone henge near Salisbury.
A couple of years ago my all-time favourite Facebook post appeared on an American Camino group. It missed the point that the church's claims on the Camino were several hundred years earlier. But that was the least of the issues 🤣

stonehinge1.jpg
 
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TrvlDad1

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I agree. My concern is that we modern humans have a remarkable gift for self-deception and anachronistic thinking. So it becomes very easy to assume that today's inclusive "non-judgmental" Camino is the way things have always been. It is very easy to project an idealised and sanitised notion of history into the past. Especially if by doing so you paper over present day consequences. Sometimes we just have to face unpleasant facts head on.
There is no such thing as non-judgmental…beliefs, values and the “correctness “ change and peoples judgments follow them.
 

Kitsambler

Jakobsweg Junkie
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the above idea.
One good place to start is the pilgrim mindset in the middle ages, which is inspired by Catholic theology of the time. The concepts of heaven, hell, and the process for gaining either were ... a little different from our modern perspective. Cluny Abbey financed much of the pilgrimage infrastructure, and an excellent history is "Cluny: In Search of God's Lost Empire" by Edwin Williams. Also Amazon has a long list of titles from academic historians if you search on "pilgrimage in the middle ages". Some of those titles might be available through your local library.
 

Kevin Considine

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2021
Reading @vanrobin's post about the present location of a statue of Santiago Matamoros in SdeC Cathedral led me to search for the above idea. This website appeared first. Any contributions that will help expand knowledge and understanding is bound to be useful. Political correctness has its place in C20 and C21.
Santiago, Matamoros? Oh dear! A friend who is a historian has alerted me to the dangers of reading the past with modern understandings!
I look forward to learning from other forum members.
The first paragraph of your link sums up “pilgrimage” definition pretty well I think:

“A pilgrimage is a devotional practice consisting of a prolonged journey, often undertaken on foot or on horseback, toward a specific destination of significance. It is an inherently transient experience, removing the participant from his or her home environment and identity. The means or motivations in undertaking a pilgrimage might vary, but the act, however performed, blends the physical and the spiritual into a unified experience.”

I would add the destination and physical method of transportation is irrelevant. While I prefer walking, a pilgrimage is intensely personal with no right or wrong. Modern pilgrims go by bike, car, bus, etc.. I also like the last sentence as a pilgrimage often transcends the physical experience for the spiritual realm.

Buen Camino!
 

mspath

Veteran Member
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Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
One good place to start is the pilgrim mindset in the middle ages, which is inspired by Catholic theology of the time. The concepts of heaven, hell, and the process for gaining either were ... a little different from our modern perspective. Cluny Abbey financed much of the pilgrimage infrastructure, and an excellent history is "Cluny: In Search of God's Lost Empire" by Edwin Williams. Also Amazon has a long list of titles from academic historians if you search on "pilgrimage in the middle ages". Some of those titles might be available through your local library.
Kitsambler,
Thank you for citing the immense importance of Cluny Abbey which, of course, spread into Spain especially at Sahagun. A basic non-scholarly descrption of this influence is found
here. Now with the passage of centuries neither place is what it once was.
 
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David

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First one in 2005 from Moissac, France.
A couple of years ago my all-time favourite Facebook post appeared on an American Camino group. It missed the point that the church's claims on the Camino were several hundred years earlier. But that was the least of the issues 🤣

View attachment 118299
Oh, that is just too wonderful!!! 😂😂😂🤣😂🤣😂🤣😂
 
Time of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
As to history ... just a reminder. Some things did not happen:
  • Santiago The Apostle: Very little is documented. It is doubtful that he was a missionary in Spain. I'll leave it at that: doubtful.

  • Santiago The Pilgrim: Did not happen. The Apostle James was not a pilgrim with pilgrim shells on his hat on the way to himself in Santiago de Compostela.

  • Santiago The Knight: Did not happen. The Apostle James did not return to earth some 800 years after his death. He did not ride a horse on earth. He did not kill anyone on earth with his sword.
I felt it needed to be said 🤓. You can blame Christian history for a lot of terrible real events but not for these fictional events.
 
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Frances 2016, del Norte 2019
I would be wary of literal interpretations of visual images of Santiago, or of assuming that medieval artists and devotees thought that Santiago after his death had been supernaturally turned in to a pilgrim or warrior, or that anyone thought that these images were visual representations of fictional events. Christian saints take on many avocations, some of them literal, some have always been metaphorical. For example, the Virgin Mary has been depicted with arrows piercing her heart. Worshippers knew that she had not been literally stabbed in the heart, that the arrows were visual symbols of the broken heartedness she felt at the Crucifixion. I would argue that the same is true about in his avocations as Pilgrim and Warrior. The question in my mind is how were these images received by the people that worshipped in front of them? What solace and inspiration did they find in them?
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2023
But one thing we don't talk about much in this context is hope.
Hmm, for me there is what is and what I am prepared to do about things that I can change in some manner. Hope is a fantasy, it is what I have when I buy a lottery ticket.
Hope for cure, hope for healing of the dark places of the heart, hope to find our better angels along the way.
I get that you are hinting at learning and growth and a pilgrimage can concentrate opportunities for learning by placing ourselves in a constantly changing environment where we are outside of our regular companions.

------

@kirkie one might equally ask "what is the purpose of the religions" but that is far too sensitive a subject to discuss openly on this forum.
 

MichaelB10398

Veteran Member
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Suffice it to say I haven't yet stopped walking
I am a lover of books and have been a collector for many years. One of the sets I have is a three-volume set entitled KING, Georgiana Goddard, M.A (1920). "The Way of Saint James - Hispanic Notes & Monographs". She was a professor of History at Bryn Mawr College. You can find it on Amazon.
It is an academic treatment of the topic. I have not read it completely, but those of us who enjoy reading and love the Way will find this deeply interesting most of the time and at others it can be heavy reading too.
This should be understood to be an in-depth study of the Way, rather than pilgrimage in general.
Great topic! It is hoped this small contribution will assist those who are seeking for some real meat on the Way.
 
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Hmm, for me there is what is and what I am prepared to do about things that I can change in some manner. Hope is a fantasy, it is what I have when I buy a lottery ticket.
I actually agree with you 100%.
Hope like that is a waste of time.
But turning one's focus away from gnawing on difficulty - and how difficult things are - but focusing instead on possibility is incredibly freeing.
And the Camino gets us all out of our mental ruts, so we can see possibility more clearly.

That said, many do hope for divine intervention or transformarions, hoping God (or The Camino) will bestow a cure or miracle upon them. I don't personally believe that, but...sometimes mysteries do happen.

But yes, these didn't happen:
As to history ... just a reminder. Some things did not happen:
  • Santiago The Apostle: Very little is documented. It is doubtful that he was a missionary in Spain. I'll leave it at that: doubtful.

  • Santiago The Pilgrim: Did not happen. The Apostle James was not a pilgrim with pilgrim shells on his hat on the way to himself in Santiago de Compostela.

  • Santiago The Knight: Did not happen. The Apostle James did not return to earth some 800 years after his death. He did not ride a horse on earth. He did not kill anyone on earth with his sword.
It just goes to show that pilgrimage coalesces around a story, one that people can deeply relate to - and more often than not those stories are complete myths.

The Compostella pilgrinage has inconvenient geopolitical roots. But that no longer matters because the pilgrimage to Santiago has a life of its own, and a story that is still changing. We don't need the guy on the horse any more, so he quietly gets put away. But there are other stories that continue to draw people. The Way being one example. That's a myth too.
 
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but focusing instead on possibility is incredibly freeing.
Thanks.

In many cases the buildings containing the statues and images (churches/cathedrals) have been very carefully designed for a number of effects at various levels and the statues and images are an integral part of that design. Taking out or covering up a part of that design changes and often destroys those effects.

These things, along with the poetry that is often encountered within various religions were designed and put in this form in order to give them a level of longevity that would strongly resist the next preacher coming along and adapting the words and effects for their own purposes.

However, they were never meant to be permanent just to have enough longevity to last until their communities no longer benefitted from them.

I am not wise enough to know when their usefulness has passed.
 
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06,CF;13,CP;17,SSal;19,Ingles
Reading over responses above, I am thinking I have pointers if I choose to follow them, to learn more from an academic point of view. I was also just thinking that if there is that place up in the sky I won't be headed for the Library. My books are many, yes, but the best books for me have got legs, or flowers, or views! One of my brothers has been making a pilgrimage, with his two daughters, twice a year, to the burial place of his wife, their mother. He doesn't call it that, but I am just putting that name on it now. It has its rituals, I know because he tells me. It helps that a train or car journey is involved, and engagement with my sister in law's best friend and her husband. So there is distance from home, and meeting others on the road...
Thanks everyone for your contributions, and to @Doughnut NZ - the prompt for statues came from my first sentence. I appreciate that the thread has not gone into ping pong mode re changing awareness of political correctness - perhaps I should have cut out that sentence. Let's see if and how the conversation goes on.
 

Joe Walsh

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Reading @vanrobin's post about the present location of a statue of Santiago Matamoros in SdeC Cathedral led me to search for the above idea. This website appeared first. Any contributions that will help expand knowledge and understanding is bound to be useful. Political correctness has its place in C20 and C21.
Santiago, Matamoros? Oh dear! A friend who is a historian has alerted me to the dangers of reading the past with modern understandings!
I look forward to learning from other forum members.
Oh, yes! On a kitchen table level, reading the past with modern understandings is one major reason some parents and grandparents can’t understand or tolerate the activities of their kids who are simply creating a new history of their own generation.

How can we understand a past world in which practically nobody was literate, unless we imagine something far outside our experience? That is a lot of work. Not something we can do in the time it takes to fire off a kicking post.

Walking across our endless meseta, where the historical figures struggled, bled, and cultivated the life of their times, one can find time to contemplate these questions if they are open to learning a bit more about where we are and have been, before judging.

S.M. was looked upon as a hero who liberated his people from the dominance by force of a different people in a particular time. Each side called the other, the enemy. The land we now call Spain has been invaded and conquered by others many many times in history. It has always belonged to those who could hold onto it, until a different order became triumphant. Heroes of past struggles served to inspire the will to protect the order that brought bread to table.

The construction of the Cathedrals and other evocative monuments we now celebrate was only made possible by a social order that was maintained for more than a few centuries. S.M. was a regional emblem in which people (who couldn’t read) could find inspiration to support the order that enabled their particular social contract to build the world it imagined.

But today literacy is more common and as a result a wider variety of POVs are accessible to each of us, bringing many different opinions which are often in conflict. If out of conflict we arrive at mutual understandings of these various attitudes, then we can possibly agree on compromises that foster a benevolent society more likely to survive the challenge of opinions. This does not mean we denigrate the ancestors for their predilections, but recognize we are offshoots of the best order of their day.

A pilgrimage can be just about anything the pilgrim chooses it to be within the context of what happens in getting from point A to point B.

On any pilgrimage we know we are going to move thru space within a given amount of time, and that no matter the initial reason for going—there will be some kind of growth as a result.

Why we do it, or why it was done in the past, is not as important as the clear realization that growth should be the expected result of our shared experience.
;)
 

Kitsambler

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Le Puy 2010-11, Prague 2012, Nuremberg 2013, Einsiedeln 2015, Geneva 2017-19
It just goes to show that pilgrimage coalesces around a story...
I think we're on to something here: Pilgrimage is a physical story.

What's a story? A narrative arc with a beginning, a middle, and an end that reflects the transformation of a character.
 
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David Tallan

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1989
As to history ... just a reminder. Some things did not happen:
  • Santiago The Apostle: Very little is documented. It is doubtful that he was a missionary in Spain. I'll leave it at that: doubtful.

  • Santiago The Pilgrim: Did not happen. The Apostle James was not a pilgrim with pilgrim shells on his hat on the way to himself in Santiago de Compostela.

  • Santiago The Knight: Did not happen. The Apostle James did not return to earth some 800 years after his death. He did not ride a horse on earth. He did not kill anyone on earth with his sword.
I felt it needed to be said 🤓. You can blame Christian history for a lot of terrible real events but not for these fictional events.
On the other hand, Santiago, who "provides" for pilgrims who walk the Camino today? I'm not going to say it happens. But I'm not going to dispute those who say that was their experience, either.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
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A pilgrimage is a devotional practice consisting of a prolonged journey, often undertaken on foot or on horseback, toward a specific destination of significance. It is an inherently transient experience, removing the participant from his or her home environment and identity. The means or motivations in undertaking a pilgrimage might vary, but the act, however performed, blends the physical and the spiritual into a unified experience.
This definition is wrong.

Pilgrimages do not need to be "prolonged journeys" -- there's a local pilgrimage here undertaken by the Diocese once a year, which is within easy walking distance for everyone (it's a tiny Diocese), and even so, most go via car.

Pilgrimages do not require going on foot or on horseback, those going on Catholic pilgrimage to Santiago by train, coach, car, airline, etc. are pilgrims.

It is false to suggest that pilgrimage is "an inherently transient experience, removing the participant from his or her home environment and identity", as the above example of our local pilgrimage to a locally familiar shrine and among familiar people shows, but also on organised pilgrimages, those who know each other through parish or diocese can travel together as a group, by coach or train, thereby not "removing" any of them from "home environment and identity", but acting rather to reinforce both by the bonds of common pilgrimage. The suggestion is also a religiously illiterate one, as all properly religiously motivated pilgrimage is directed towards home and towards a strengthening of one's ties with the home environment.

The notion of "blending the physical and the spiritual into a unified experience" is also perfectly bizarre, and speaks more of New Age "spirituality" than of anything to do with the Traditions of pilgrimage as such.

In the Christian pilgrimage tradition, the practice revolves around visiting either sites significant in the Bible — particularly those concerning the life of Christ — or in the lives of saints, or paying reverence to holy relics.

In the Major Pilgrimages sure, but most pilgrimages in the Christian (i.e. Catholic/Orthodox) Tradition are far shorter local ones to nearby shrines, often attached to particular Feast Days of the Saints (or Angels, or the Trinity, Sacred Heart, etc.) that those shrines are particularly devoted to.

The three main destinations of Christian pilgrimage are Jerusalem, Rome, and Santiago de Compostela
That is to seriously underestimate the importance of Fátima, Lourdes, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mount Athos, Montserrat, and other major shrines, both East and West.

It is also to view pilgrimage through some rose-tinted vision of some ideal past, instead of to see the reality of what pilgrimage is today, in the here and now of reality.
 

JabbaPapa

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How can we understand a past world in which practically nobody was literate
Literacy was less uncommon than you suppose, though of course it was not near universal as it is now in the West. What practically nobody had was personal ownership of written texts -- not even monks living among books every day owned those volumes themselves, but they belonged collectively to monastery, Abbey, or Church.
But today literacy is more common and as a result a wider variety of POVs are accessible to each of us, bringing many different opinions which are often in conflict.
Actually, that's more from the invention of the printing press than from literacy per se.
 

Kanga

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A reminder to members that the topic of this thread is the origins of pilgrimage, and the place of Santiago Matamoros.

I have deleted posts that are off topic. A reminder that religious discussions are also a breach of the forum rules. We do allow some leeway, such as discussions about historical beliefs, but when members are promoting their own personal views on religion, the post will be deleted.
 

Albertagirl

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on organised pilgrimages, those who know each other through parish or diocese can travel together as a group,

I was interested to view aspects of a couple of pilgrimages to Santiago by local people when on pilgrimage myself. The first was at the very beginning of my walk on the Aragones, in the Cathedral in Oloron Ste Marie. There was a sign-up book for church members, requesting that they get signed up soon for their parish pilgrimage. The second was on the Frances, after Sarria. A group of women were walking together. My memory provides me with the detail that they were all wearing red shirts. They were quite loud and chatty, in Spanish, and tended to walk arm-in-arm: clearly a very communal pilgrimage. This type of communal pilgrimage reminds me of an Alberta pilgrimage by native people to a lake where there is a shrine of the Virgin Mary. I believe that groups tend to go together for a particular festival. When I go on pilgrimage in Spain, I am not from a local church, so I cannot participate in this aspect of pilgrimage. My church in Calgary asked me to speak to anyone interested after my first pilgrimage. Those of us who belong to a Christian community in Canada may find it challenging to make pilgrimage a shared aspect of community life if we walk alone and there is little tradition of pilgrimage in the parish.
 
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dick bird

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“The past is never dead. It's not even past.”​


― William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun

One of the many wise things he said. We live with the past, it made us what we are and if we don't learn about it, we cannot choose the best and reject the worst.

'Pilgrimage' is a word that has a lot of different meanings, all of them valid at least to the person that holds them. The only aspects I can think of that everyone would accept is that involves a visit (which implies but does not necessarily entail a journey) to a place and that the place is one of significance. Decide for yourself what 'significance' means.

As for Santiago, he has been a symbol for a very long time and like most long-held symbols has been co-opted by different, often conflicting persuasions, and not so long past either. Once again, I guess we have to decide for ourselves what Santiago represents.
 
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On the other hand, Santiago, who "provides" for pilgrims who walk the Camino today? I'm not going to say it happens. But I'm not going to dispute those who say that was their experience, either.
Do you hear that often? That Santiago "provides"? Or that Saint James "provides"?

I usually hear or read that the Camino provides.

I never know who that Camino is for them. The road? The Apostle? God? The Universe? Angels? The municipalities, regional governments and taxpayers? People working and living in the vicinity? The unique and glorious combination of small towns, nature, food, climate, and the whole infrastructure that has been created not so much to provide social benefits, health benefits and charity for global travellers but to give positive impulses and stimulate the local and regional economy?
 

David Tallan

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1989
Do you hear that often? That Santiago "provides"? Or that Saint James "provides"?

I usually hear or read that the Camino provides.

I never know who that Camino is for them. The road? The Apostle? God? The Universe? Angels? The municipalities, regional governments and taxpayers? People working and living in the vicinity? The unique and glorious combination of small towns, nature, food, climate, and the whole infrastructure that has been created not so much to provide social benefits, health benefits and charity for global travellers but to give positive impulses and stimulate the local and regional economy?
I have heard people saying that the saint is looking out for them in the same types of situations that bring forth "the Camino provides".
 
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I have heard people saying that the saint is looking out for them in the same types of situations that bring forth "the Camino provides".
Ah, the shifting goalposts in online discussions 😂. I had wondered whether one hears it often, or which version one hears most often. I do know that the faithful are assisted by their saints. But aren't we discussing the views and beliefs of the contemporary global international all-faiths and none and everything-in-between members of the Camino Pilgrimage Community?

If someone says with confidence that "Santiago provides" they mean, in all likelihood, that Saint James will look after them. I wondered what "The Camino provides" means. Obviously not the same as "Santiago provides" or does it?
 
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So far, so good! At least I have not yet forgotten I started off this thread! 😁
In between tasks, here is another link. I thought the second box on the left, of six boxes on screen near the beginning, could have been written for the Forum!
I can be slow to digest some information and points made. I do really thank each one for your contributions. Agreement is not the point. Expanding the topic is.
 
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I wondered what "The Camino provides" means. Obviously not the same as "Santiago provides" or does it?
You'd have to ask the people saying it, but I doubt they're the same thing, since people who contend the camino provides often say they are not religious.

The Camino provides? As if it is a god or a sentient entity who knows what we need? It's quite a paradox if you ask me, since a way - a path - is an empty space between things where people and animals can walk. It is an absence rather than a presence.

But people like it and repeat it. Certainly saying that is a convenient way to quell the discomfort of how vulnerable we can feel when we throw caution to the wind and just trust that we will cope with whatever comes. Or not.
 
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David

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First one in 2005 from Moissac, France.
You'd have to ask the people saying it, but I doubt they're the same thing, since people who contend the camino provides often say they are not religious.

The Camino provides? As if it is a god or a sentient entity who knows what we need? It's quite a paradox if you ask me, since a way - a path - is an empty space between things where people and animals can walk. It is an absence rather than a presence.

But people like it and repeat it. Certainly saying that is a convenient way to quell the discomfort of how vulnerable we can feel when we throw caution to the wind and just trust that we will cope with whatever comes. Or not.

The mistake you are making is that you think you are an isolated 'you' and 'out there' is somehow a separate thing .. therefore that 'religious' people believe that a God on a rope can drop down and 'do something' ... but it is not your "absence rather than a presence" on Camino, it is the exact opposite.

The universe is one thing and there are no separate parts. True, there are different shapes but it is only one thing - we cannot be separate from it in any way ... add in consciousness and we have what the Hindu describes as "not one, not two" - the illusion of being 'separate' .... the universe manifested is one thing and our seeing ourselves (or anything else) as separate is an illusion, a delusion.
St Paul put it well "We live and move and have our Being within God" - is the same thing but described differently, his awareness that the Universe (which he sees as God - as do I) is one thing.

What may happen on Camino is that with everyone away from their homes and worries and ties we flow into an awareness of how the universe actually works, that oneness, that moving and living within this extraordinary manifestation .... and how it can work, if allowed, is to fill a vacuum so need can be answered .... there are just too many stories of this happening on Camino for it to be ignored or brushed off, don't you think?

As for your "the discomfort of how vulnerable we can feel when we throw caution to the wind and just trust that we will cope with whatever comes" Again, I do not see it like this. Everyone I meet out there has been empowered and become brave by that very throwing caution to the wind - the unhappy and fearful ones being the ones who found themselves unable to do that, to let go and trust that all will be well.

If one lives one life, one's awareness, of how the universe is .. well, these things happen off Camino too - all the time.
Here is a tiny thing. I wanted/needed a Vegetarian cookbook. Not a fancy '50 recipes' one but a real 'complete' Vegetarian cookbook. So yesterday I trawled the charity shops, then Waterstones bookshop (way TOO expensive and not the right style either). This morning I thought "oh, what about that charity shop that is at the other end of town, I forgot about that one" - Aww, but it is a long way to walk - Go There. Aww, but it is raining - Go There ... so I went there. On the bookshelves the cookery books had been stacked horizontally. On the top of the stack was "The Complete Book of Vegetarian Cooking", ready for me to pick up .. was the only Veggie book there too - so went home with exactly what I wanted/needed. Now this serendipity can be brushed of as coincidence, but it wasn't. it was co-incidence, and this is exactly how the universe works. So on Camino? Of course, how else could it be???

IMG_20220215_134623383_HDR.jpg
 
Last edited:

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
1989
Ah, the shifting goalposts in online discussions 😂. I had wondered whether one hears it often, or which version one hears most often. I do know that the faithful are assisted by their saints. But aren't we discussing the views and beliefs of the contemporary global international all-faiths and none and everything-in-between members of the Camino Pilgrimage Community?

If someone says with confidence that "Santiago provides" they mean, in all likelihood, that Saint James will look after them. I wondered what "The Camino provides" means. Obviously not the same as "Santiago provides" or does it?
I think many people who walk the Camino have a sense that they are provided for. Of course, they are in many cases and the person or organization directly providing is clear and visible. But many have a sense that things work out or will work out beyond the obvious and physical. To whom or what they attribute that depends on the nature of their overall beliefs and inclinations.

Some might say "God provides" or "the Universe provides". Some attribute it to the Camino, as a force itself, carrying the energy of the millions that have walked the route. Some see the hand of St. James looking out for his pilgrims. That has long been the case. We hear stories of St. James providing a well or stream for thirsty pilgrims, or saving the life of a pilgrim boy unjustly hanged for a crime he did not commit. Many of the faithful have the idea that the saint is still active in protecting his pilgrims. I made my initial comment because I think Santiago Peregrino and Santiago Matamoros are physical representations of the same concept: that Santiago, after his martyrdom, protects his faithful and walks beside us.

Personally, I'm neither Catholic nor Christian so I can't really believe that Santiago is really looking out for me. But I like to do so when on Camino.
 
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To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
We hear stories of St. James providing a well or stream for thirsty pilgrims, or saving the life of a pilgrim boy unjustly hanged for a crime he did not commit. Many of the faithful have the idea that the saint is still active in protecting his pilgrims.
On the forum, I mostly read this slogan of being provided for by some higher authority or power on the Camino in the context of concerns about finding a bed for the night in a timely manner, sometimes during pilgrimage peak season.
 
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Albertagirl

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Time of past OR future Camino
Frances; Aragones; VdlP; Madrid-Invierno; Levante
How one understands, or whether one accepts, statements such as "the Camino provides) depends on personal beliefs, which vary greatly in our current Western world. It has just occured to me that the question for a Christian pilgrim may be, "Why don't I believe that God will provide when I am facing a situation at home in which I need help?" I remember most vividly a situation in winter, early on in the pandemic I was trying to carry home from the neighbourhood grocery store a heavy load of food, including a four-litre jug of milk. Just a block from home, I was trying to cross a slippery intersection to get to my side of the street. When I came to a large ridge of snow, partly melted then frozen, I could not get over it safely with my load. A young man stopped on the other side of the ice ridge and offered to take my milk jug. I still could not climb over the icy ridge. Then he put out his arm and I grasped his wrist and was able to climb over safely. I did not attribute any higher meaning to his actions, seeing this as individual kindness. But it was also a willingness to be touched by me in a time of pandemic. Some of us, when we are on pilgrimage, are inclined to attribute to God, or Saint James, or "the camino" events which we might casually attribute to community spirit, or not even think about, when we are not on camino.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Time of past OR future Camino
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Do you hear that often? That Santiago "provides"? Or that Saint James "provides"?

I usually hear or read that the Camino provides.

I never know who that Camino is for them. The road? The Apostle? God? The Universe? Angels? The municipalities, regional governments and taxpayers? People working and living in the vicinity? The unique and glorious combination of small towns, nature, food, climate, and the whole infrastructure that has been created not so much to provide social benefits, health benefits and charity for global travellers but to give positive impulses and stimulate the local and regional economy?
Fundamentally, God.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Time of past OR future Camino
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So far, so good! At least I have not yet forgotten I started off this thread! 😁
In between tasks, here is another link. I thought the second box on the left, of six boxes on screen near the beginning, could have been written for the Forum!
I can be slow to digest some information and points made. I do really thank each one for your contributions. Agreement is not the point. Expanding the topic is.
A much better source for the basics of it.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Time of past OR future Camino
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The universe is one thing and there are no separate parts. True, there are different shapes but it is only one thing - we cannot be separate from it in any way ... add in consciousness and we have what the Hindu describes as "not one, not two" - the illusion of being 'separate' .... the universe manifested is one thing and our seeing ourselves (or anything else) as separate is an illusion, a delusion.
I would contest that particular religious view of things as being pertinent to this Christian pilgrimage Way as it exists.
we flow into an awareness of how the universe actually works
And this philosophy.
 
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The mistake you are making is that you think you are an isolated 'you' and 'out there' is somehow a separate thing
I do?
Haha. Hardly. Just the opposite.

there are just too many stories of this happening on Camino for it to be ignored or brushed off, don't you think?
David, we may have to agree to disagree.
Human beings naturally have a confirmation bias that makes connections where there actually are none. While someone may subjectively experience a coincidence as meaningful, this alone doesn't give any objective meaning to it. Magical thinking finds patterns everywhere that simply don't exist.

If we come to the camino with preconceived ideas about its potency, we may actually be undervaluing the simple but profound human kindness that is actually playing out. As @Albertagirl quite perceptively points out:
Some of us, when we are on pilgrimage, are inclined to attribute to God, or Saint James, or "the camino" events which we might casually attribute to community spirit, or not even think about, when we are not on camino.

I'm not discounting mystery, but have no interest in making more of it than it is, trying to package it as a 'something,' or even to explain it.
 
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Dear people, once more I say: thanks for your kind responses. I am always amazed at how differently we see things. I ought to know better. One of the simplest tools I used years ago was an old box, originally filled with bananas. I covered it with white paper. I used dots of different sizes and colours, and pasted them on all faces - including the base. then I would ask the people in whichever group I was working with: what can you see? You already get the picture, don't you? I cannot possibly see what you see. I have a different point of view. I must, absolutely must, believe you when you tell me that what you see is different to what I see. When everyone had said their piece, I would upturn the box... there's always more!
 

Joe Walsh

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances, Aragonés, VDLP, Madrid, Portugues, Norte
The mistake you are making is that you think you are an isolated 'you' and 'out there' is somehow a separate thing .. therefore that 'religious' people believe that a God on a rope can drop down and 'do something' ... but it is not your "absence rather than a presence" on Camino, it is the exact opposite.

The universe is one thing and there are no separate parts. True, there are different shapes but it is only one thing - we cannot be separate from it in any way ... add in consciousness and we have what the Hindu describes as "not one, not two" - the illusion of being 'separate' .... the universe manifested is one thing and our seeing ourselves (or anything else) as separate is an illusion, a delusion.
St Paul put it well "We live and move and have our Being within God" - is the same thing but described differently, his awareness that the Universe (which he sees as God - as do I) is one thing.

What may happen on Camino is that with everyone away from their homes and worries and ties we flow into an awareness of how the universe actually works, that oneness, that moving and living within this extraordinary manifestation .... and how it can work, if allowed, is to fill a vacuum so need can be answered .... there are just too many stories of this happening on Camino for it to be ignored or brushed off, don't you think?

As for your "the discomfort of how vulnerable we can feel when we throw caution to the wind and just trust that we will cope with whatever comes" Again, I do not see it like this. Everyone I meet out there has been empowered and become brave by that very throwing caution to the wind - the unhappy and fearful ones being the ones who found themselves unable to do that, to let go and trust that all will be well.

If one lives one life, one's awareness, of how the universe is .. well, these things happen off Camino too - all the time.
Here is a tiny thing. I wanted/needed a Vegetarian cookbook. Not a fancy '50 recipes' one but a real 'complete' Vegetarian cookbook. So yesterday I trawled the charity shops, then Waterstones bookshop (way TOO expensive and not the right style either). This morning I thought "oh, what about that charity shop that is at the other end of town, I forgot about that one" - Aww, but it is a long way to walk - Go There. Aww, but it is raining - Go There ... so I went there. On the bookshelves the cookery books had been stacked horizontally. On the top of the stack was "The Complete Book of Vegetarian Cooking", ready for me to pick up .. was the only Veggie book there too - so went home with exactly what I wanted/needed. Now this serendipity can be brushed of as coincidence, but it wasn't. it was co-incidence, and this is exactly how the universe works. So on Camino? Of course, how else could it be???

View attachment 118573
David thanks for sharing your comments which are good healthy food for thought.

The quote “we live and move and have our being in Him” is a leavening idea that one could contemplate at length as they pilgrim their purpose-filled Way with one foot planted firmly in mid-air.

St. Paul displays his keen awareness of the heritage of those he hoped to persuade at Areopagus Hill by repeating Epimenides’ (“ the water-carrier”) verse from his “Cretica” written 500+ years before Paul. Echoes of another sermon on a mount. And whose water did Epimenides admire so much that he repeated the quote himself in his own work?

Is it Santiago or the Camino that provides? Both, if we agree that each pilgrimage is made in the image of the individual pilgrim. Or something entirely different if that is your experience.

My experience has been that in difficulties along the Way I call upon Santiago whose memory is practically everywhere evident. After relief finds me I give thanks to the Camino for providing, since the helpers found are recognized as agents of the Saint and his Hero.

Rosalia de Castro, poetess of Santiago de Compostela: “I see my path, but don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” A visit to her tomb at the Pobo is recommended; it is free and the museum is a treasure that perfectly displays how the Galicians lived before literacy, toilet paper and electricity was harnessed. Here we can compare our own benefits with those of a people now forgotten.
 

David

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
First one in 2005 from Moissac, France.
I do?
Haha. Hardly. Just the opposite.


David, we may have to agree to disagree.
Human beings naturally have a confirmation bias that makes connections where there actually are none. While someone may subjectively experience a coincidence as meaningful, this alone doesn't give any objective meaning to it. Magical thinking finds patterns everywhere that simply don't exist.

If we come to the camino with preconceived ideas about its potency, we may actually be undervaluing the simple but profound human kindness that is actually playing out. As @Albertagirl quite perceptively points out:


I'm not discounting mystery, but have no interest in making more of it than it is, trying to package it as a 'something,' or even to explain it.

A pop song to cheer us all up ..... there is only one 'thing' you know :)

 
Time of past OR future Camino
2023
I see what I am looking for. I suspect that this is what happens with other human beings.

As I sit here contemplating the room in front of me I am aware that most of what I "see" is generated within my brain. Large parts of the picture are simply filled in with what I expect to see. This is part of it.

Another part is my expectations and thoughts. When I "expect" (say) kindness, then I see kindness all around me. When I expect bigotry then sometimes I surprise myself when it seems to surround me. My life has been one where there have been many opportunities. Often I don't even think about this but sometimes when I notice it and go, "wow, I have been lucky" then sometimes think, "well, maybe not, maybe I was open to opportunity and/or looking for it". Sometimes my thoughts are a bit darker, in those times I think "maybe there were many more opportunities that simply slipped away because I wasn't open to them".

While I agree with VN that much of the things described as "the Camino provided" is simply serendipity and confirmation bias, I think that the expectation of "a helping hand" probably has it show up more often.

From personal experience I know that mystery exists. I am not interested in packaging it up or explaining it but I am interested in accessing it more consistently. Here, I am referring to things that are well beyond explanation.
 
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While I agree with VN that much of the things described as "the Camino provided" is simply serendipity and confirmation bias, I think that the expectation of "a helping hand" probably has it show up more often.
Wondering aloud: Isn't that just another (very useful) kind of conformation bias?
From personal experience I know that mystery exists. I am not interested in packaging it up or explaining it but I am interested in accessing it more consistently. Here, I am referring to things that are well beyond explanation.
Absolutely.
Mystery is, and we can access it.
The paradox is that if I'm open and don't try to access mystery, that happens by itself. A lot of levels of ego 'just' need to get out of the way. Simple, but not so easy.
 
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