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Penitence by Proxy: Still Alive?

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Neva

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2016)
Planning compostela of last 100 kilometers for this summer (2018)
Hi there!
When I hiked back in 2016, I heard tell of old Camino traditions in which gentry, rich folk, etc, would pay another to hike El Camino for them. With the idea being, if you yourself were unwilling or unable to walk off your own sins through the penitence of Camino, you could get someone else to walk for you.
I was discussing this with my mother (who hiked with me in 2016) and we were both wondering if any sort of system like this still existed. Namely, could a person (or persons) fund a hiker of El Camino in exchange for their mental/spiritual weight being lifted?
I couldn't find any information on this on other forums (there was a Gofundme forum, but that's not in the same spiritual vein).
Thank you!
Neva/Chipmunk
 

MichaelB10398

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago de Compostela, Lourdes to SdC, SJPP to SdC
Just an opinion - officially, I don't think so. However, there continue to be pilgrims today that walk in behalf of another. I believe such acts of charity are recognized and valued by God.
This is a good conversation to have with your priest or spiritual advisor.
 

Tabrams

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Plan to walk the Camino Frances in Aug/Sep/Oct 2019
An interesting concept for the modern day. I’m currently reading Sinning Accross Spain by Ailsa Piper

Sinning Across Spain is the story of Ailsa Piper's 1300 kilometre walk from the southern city of Granada to Galicia, "the bathtub of Spain", in the far northwest, carrying an unusual cargo. Aside from 10 kilograms of practicalities, she also lugged a load of sins in her swag.

In the tradition of medieval believers, or scammers, who paid others to carry their sins to holy places, and so buy forgiveness, Ailsa asked her colleagues and friends to donate a sin. She then shouldered them across country, being taunted and tempted by them along the way, and trying to discover the mysteries of faith. What is faith? Did she have it? Could she get it? Would she know it if she saw it?

Sinning across Spain celebrates the call of the road, the possibilities for connection, and the simple act of putting one foot down – and then the other, and repeat – for more than a thousand kilometres of dusty road.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
Today, people give any sort of meaning to their pilgrimage. A few years ago, there was a flurry of articles about a Portuguese man who walks for a considerable payment to Santiago. However pays him, sees meaning in it ("Pray for me in Santiago"?) but I don't think this kind of proxy pilgrimage aligns with current views of the Catholic Church.

You can get a plenary indulgence if you fulfil certain conditions, in particular during a Jacobean Holy Year in Santiago such as 2021. You don't have to walk to Santiago for hundreds of miles to obtain an indulgence. You can get an indulgence often during your lifetime and everywhere you live. Indulgences have meaning for Catholics; not subscribing to this concept is a hallmark of Christian churches that are a result of the Reformation. You can get indulgences for a person who has died but not for a living person. The Compostela has nothing to do with indulgences. You can ask to have another person's name added to your Compostela or have it issued in another person's name. It has nothing to do with penitence for sins but people often wrongly associate Compostela and indulgence.

The wording "to walk off your own sins through the penitence of Camino, you could get someone else to walk for you" strikes me as a bit odd. Finding a proxy to travel to Santiago was done when people could not or did not want to fulfil a vow to go to Santiago, a vow that they had made as a trade-in for something beneficial to happen or to give thanks for a beneficial event. Such proxy pilgrimages are stipulated in some testaments that we know of and are occasionally mentioned in other reports. The proxy fulfilled the vow and carried money or gifts to Santiago. I guess such vows are rare among the 300,000+ annually who go on a Camino foot pilgrimage today.

Another way of getting out of an obligation to go on pilgrimage was possible during a certain period in the Middle Ages when secular or clerical courts ordered a pilgrimage as a form of punishment. In this case, one could often pay a fine to the court or the church instead of actually going. I don't recall having ever read that one could use a proxy instead.

A specialised scholar I like to read and to cite writes that the number of proxy pilgrimages wasn't as high as it is often presented.
 
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JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
It's always been unusual to hike as such a sponsored foot pilgrim, but yes, it's most certainly still alive -- in the religious sense, the partial or plenary Indulgences that you obtain can be sought for the behalf of others, whether living or deceased, or even for the spiritual benefit of Institutions or so on. You can even request that this vicarious attention be noted on your Compostela certificate, as some pilgrims do every year who have walked "in place of" a relative who died, as was depicted BTW in the film The Way.

But it need not be officialised in that manner, God knows your intentions in any pilgrimage.
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
Interesting. I don't know - though as one can pay for a Mass for a person does anyone give a pilgrim the money to pay for a Mass for them? I wonder.

One of the five pillars of Islam is the pilgrimage to Mecca, the Hajj. In Islam more merit is given to someone who gives the funds they have allocated to go to Mecca to a poor person so that they can go than would be obtained by actually going themselves.
Though this isn't considered to be a proxy pilgrimage but a charitable Act of Good.

As there is limited space in Mecca - 3 million - many countries are given quotas therefore it is considered a selfish act to perform Hajj more than once as it deprives someone else of their Hajj.

Such a difference between this Catholic pilgrimage and the Muslim one to Mecca. Since this modern resurgence began our Camino has become so not like a religious pilgrimage to so many who participate ... if one stands outside it and looks in does it not seem a little odd that so many tens of thousands of non-religious - let alone non-Catholic - people go on Camino to the cathedral and the remains of St James?

And as it becomes more busy, very busy now in the last 100 kms, are we being selfish by undertaking more than one pilgrimage?

Don't get me wrong, I think that we are all 'called' ... just noting the differences.
 
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JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
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I think - not certain - you can still get indulgences for a person who has died but not for a living person.
You can seek an Indulgence for a living person -- typically, the sponsored pilgrimages are financed by those unable to make the walk themselves.

You're right that such sponsored pilgrimages are rare, and that they were rare even in Mediaeval times.

The Compostela has nothing to do with indulgences.
That's not perfectly true, though the Indulgence and the Certificate are separate -- however, it remains an official Church document to attest that you have fulfilled the conditions for the gaining of the Indulgence, assuming that you have attended a Mass at Santiago and prayed for the intentions of the Pope (which is done at nearly every mass anyway) and have confessed either at Santiago or upon your return home.

Historically, the document was the means whereby you could have certain canon penalties lifted, and even today there is a Dutch youth delinquency reformation programme whereby young delinquents can have civil sanctions on them lifted by accomplishing the Camino on foot.

Another way of getting out of an obligation to go on pilgrimage was possible during a certain period in the Middle Ages when secular or clerical courts ordered a pilgrimage as a form of punishment. In this case, however, one could often pay a fine to the court or the church instead of actually going. I don't recall having ever read that one could use a proxy instead.
The court fine started as a proxy for actively sponsoring a pilgrim or doing the Camino yourself -- originally, the proceeds of such fines were used to help finance the Pilgrim's Hospitals, in much the same way that the minimal fee that you pay to get your Credencial is used to help finance the Pilgrim's Office in Compostela.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
You can seek an Indulgence for a living person -- typically, the sponsored pilgrimages are financed by those unable to make the walk themselves.
I'm not an expert of current Catholic teaching on indulgences. I checked a few internet sources that were easily accessible and looked reliable and they all said the same: for yourself or a deceased person but not another living person.

Examples:
http://www.fatimacentennial.com/plenary-indulgence: can be applied either to oneself or to a deceased person, but not to other living persons.
https://oficinadelperegrino.com/en/pilgrimage/plenary-indulgence/ : Individuals can gain Plenary Indulgences for themselves and also for the deceased.

You can obviously walk your pilgrimage for anything and anyone under the sky as a way of acknowledging them, or honouring them, or encouraging them, or promoting them, or telling them that it will erase their sins etc etc.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
even today there is a Dutch youth delinquency reformation programme whereby young delinquents can have civil sanctions on them lifted by accomplishing the Camino on foot.
I thought of mentioning that in my earlier long exposé but then decided against it as it has nothing whatsoever to do with proxy pilgrimage. I dislike the association that is often evoked between these contemporary programs and medieval practices. The contemporary programs are programs for social reintegration. They do not replace punishment or incarceration for a crime.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
I'm not an expert of current Catholic teaching on indulgences. I checked a few internet sources that were easily accessible and looked reliable and they all said the same: for yourself or a deceased person but not another living person.
Ah, you're right -- thanks for the correction.


Norms :

3.
No one gaining an indulgence may apply it to other living persons. (Cf. 1983 Code of Canon Law, canon 994)

I dislike the association that is often evoked between these contemporary programs and medieval practices. The contemporary programs are programs for social reintegration. They do not replace punishment or incarceration for a crime
The Mediaeval practices of penitential pilgrimages very often were exactly programmes for social reintegration -- they did not replace punishment or incarceration for a crime either. A requirement to go on pilgrimage to a shrine was typically a minor punishment, not usually involving distant shrines in faraway lands.

Prior to the 15th Century, an excommunication constituted a means of direct social exclusion, remember ...
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
A few years ago, there was a flurry of articles about a Portuguese man who walks for a considerable payment to Santiago. However pays him, sees meaning in it ("Pray for me in Santiago"?) but I don't think this kind of proxy pilgrimage aligns with current views of the Catholic Church.
Copy-paste this exact text sequence "carlos gil" rent a pilgrim into Google and you get articles from 2006 and 2017 about Carlos Gil who has styled himself as a "payer-off of promises". His fee is about 2,500 € for a trip from Lisbon to Fatima which is some 100 miles/150 km. He also does Santiago. You have to take Carlos' word for it that it is all true. He had a website but it appears to be out of commission or has been moved to another provider.
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
I think that any comparison between motives of today and earlier times leads us astray. One huge difference is that medieval pilgrims were primarily concerned about their wellbeing after death while contemporary pilgrims are primarily concerned about their wellbeing in the here and now.

And as to pilgrimage as penitence: there may well be foot pilgrimages or other pilgrimages as self-imposed penitence but does it even exist today as imposed by a court or a priest or a higher clerical authority? (Serious question and I don't actually think so). Nobody is forced to go on pilgrimage with iron shackles around their wrists and give up their livelihoods, it's all voluntary today.

Physical movement is therapeutic, we know that. Contact with other people can be therapeutic, we know that too. Change of scenery can be therapeutic, we've known it for ages. If you pay someone to hike and meet others and travel to another part of the world, will that be beneficial for you?
 
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kelleymac

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
March/April 2015, Late April 2016, Sept/Oct 2017, April 2019.
When I went to Rome in 1998 for 6 months, I got paperwork from my local parish, that made it a pilgrimage. I had to get the paperwork then approved by an office in Rome. (I don't remember the name of the office, but was something for Americans and the fountain there had goldfish. (I was traveling with my 2 year old.)). After that was approved I was given two passes to the audience with the Pope at St. Peter's. This meant that I got to be seated in a chair when John Paul II drove by, and then held a service. He did this every week, and I had seen the pageantry from further back, standing up before, with my 2 year old on my shoulders.-- I was told that this audience (pilgrimage) to Rome and to see the Pope, brought me forgiveness of my sins, and those of my family. Later, I referenced this during the Sacrement of Reconciliation to the priest when I said when by last confession was, and he said, "yes that counts".
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
I think that any comparison between motives of today and earlier times leads us astray.
I don't.

One huge difference is that medieval pilgrims were primarily concerned about their wellbeing after death while contemporary pilgrims are primarily concerned about their wellbeing in the here and now.
I think that's a false opposition from a combination of over-romanticizing the Middle Ages and being overly cynical about modern times.

That is to say that I think Mediaeval pilgrims had a very similar combination of concerns about their well-being in the afterlife as well as in the here and now as pilgrims can have today -- and that it's a non-starter to try and psychoanalyse people who have been dead for centuries in comparison to those who are alive today.
 

lizlane

Small Town Girl, Small Town World
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2019
I would argue that more medieval pilgrims were concerned about their physical well-being in the here and now of that time considering that the journey was harder and the dangers they faced were more than being flashed by some pervvy guy getting his jollies.
 

peterbells

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances September 2018 (Sarria to Santiago)
A la Dr King, does it not depend on the content of the heart of the people involved?
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF2012,Le Puy/CF 2015 Portugues 2017 Norte 2018, CF 2019
I have no idea how this works or what the Church's rules are regarding this. I will only add that I heard a podcast regarding a woman who did this. If my memory serves me correctly she did it to pay for her own Caminos. I think I heard it on one of Dan Mullens' podcasts but I am not sure. I do not remember the particulars as I heard it awhile ago but it was an interesting story.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
Simple answer to the OP is NO. Each person seeking a Compostela must present themselves and their evidence of completion (a properly stamped credencial).

For example, a couple comes to the Pilgrim Office after completing their Camino. One person leaves the partner in line while they go off to their hotel, have lunch, etc. The partner CANNOT obtain both their Compostela and the Compostela for the absent partner. The absent person MUST return to the other partner in line BEFORE they accede to the front of the queue... PERIOD!

I cannot tell you how many times I have to tell the left behind partner to call, text, or go fetch the wandering pilgrim. It happens every day. The rules are simple. One present and eligible face, one Compostela...

The SOLE EXCEPTION is that a living pilgrim may obtain their Compostela, in their name (the one one the credencial), but with the name of a second person appended to it at the bottom. This is called 'In Vicare Pro." It is Latin and colloquially means "in place of." It is used to dedicate a Compostela and all spiritual rights thereunto appertaining (if any) to both the person obtaining the Compostela AND the named person.

The second person, not present, and named "In Vicare Pro" MUST be either deceased OR living, but in a physical condition that makes their ability to do their own pilgrimage a non-issue. For example, I have done "In Vicare Pro" pilgrimages dedicated to both my deceased brother and father, as well as my living but 86-year old mother.

I have, on several occasions, encountered surviving children, siblings or spouses in the Pilgrim Office queue who have TWO fully stamped credencials, one for themselves and one for another person who is deceased. They ask me if they can obtain a second Compostela for the deceased person.

The answer is always a polite NO. However, I explain the "in Vicaro Pro" provision. This usually accomplishes their purpose, to dedicate the pilgrimage, and obtain whatever spiritual benefits that may accrue, to the deceased person.

NOTE: Catholic Church dogma specifically allows for a living person to accomplish the pilgrimage and obtain a Compostela In Vicare Pro to the benefit of a deceased or invalid person.

NOTE - 2: This is a one-at-a-time thing. One living pilgrim can only obtain one In Vicare Pro dedication on one Compostela. To obtain the In Vicare Pro dedication for two or more deceased or invalid persons, you would have to do two or more pilgrimages...

Hope this is clear and helps the dialog.
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
That is to say that I think Mediaeval pilgrims had a very similar combination of concerns about their well-being in the afterlife as well as in the here and now as pilgrims can have today -- and that it's a non-starter to try and psychoanalyse people who have been dead for centuries in comparison to those who are alive today.
It's not amateur psychoanalysis, it's based on what I have learnt. But I will leave it at that as the question is about whether people today "fund a hiker of El Camino in exchange for their mental/spiritual weight being lifted" and not about the mindset and worldview of the people in medieval Europe.

For those wondering, however, I'd suggest that they think about why people would stipulate in their testament (i.e. for a time when they were dead and no longer had a concern for their worldly well-being) that someone walks to Santiago for them and why we see the motifs above the portals of Romanesque and Gothic churches that we see. 🤓
 
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Stivandrer

Perambulating & Curious. Rep stravaiging offender
Camino(s) past & future
I´ve got Camino plans until 2042,
- or till I fall flat on my face, whichever comes first !!
It has been told that selling of stamped book of temples visited (nōkyōchō) have been and might still be an item to be sold off on the Shikoku 88 temples route in Japan....
- For people who cannot make it themselves...
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
I'm not going to try and reiterate the excellent discussion above about the possibility of getting a Compostela or an Indulgence for someone else, either living or deceased. But I think there is another possibility that may come into play and may still be valid in current Catholic thinking. I am not Catholic myself, so I will ask anyone more knowledgeable than I to step in and correct me if I get any of this wrong.

It seems to me that one of the things behind any visit to s saint's shrine, whether made official through a certificate or special offer of indulgence or not, is the opportunity to, through prayer, request the intercession of the saint in heaven. The idea that I've heard (and may be wrong about) is that saints are currently in heaven and have more access or influence with the Almighty than us poor sinners here on Earth. Through asking them to intercede for us, we put that power behind our prayers. And while, theoretically, one can pray to a saint from anywhere, praying from a place particularly associated with the saint is more efficacious.

If I have correctly stated the theology, and it is still accepted by the Church as correct, I'm not seeing anything that would prevent someone from, when kneeling before the relics of St. James in the crypt in the Cathedral of Santiago, requesting St. James intercede in a particular way on behalf of some poor sinner, still alive, and back home. Such am intercession would have more power than the prayer of the sinner alone. And surely it would not be against Church doctrine for someone to assist the person in getting to Santiago to Compostela to request the intercession.

Just another idea to throw into the mix of this discussion on walking on behalf of other sinners.
 

alhartman

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2005 2007 Frances
2016 Leon to Santiago
Luther's 95 Thesis c1517. Formation of Protestantism.
 

alhartman

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2005 2007 Frances
2016 Leon to Santiago
Luther's was in opposition to indulgences, penitence selling, by extension maybe penitence by proxy; but certainly opposed to forgiveness by mere liturgical acts.
Wiki "In the first few theses Luther develops the idea of repentance as the Christian's inner struggle with sin rather than the external system of sacramental confession. "
And I think I am dangerously close to violating Forum rules on religious discussion--so will stick to just the historical.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
I'm not going to try and reiterate the excellent discussion above about the possibility of getting a Compostela or an Indulgence for someone else, either living or deceased. But I think there is another possibility that may come into play and may still be valid in current Catholic thinking. I am not Catholic myself, so I will ask anyone more knowledgeable than I to step in and correct me if I get any of this wrong.

It seems to me that one of the things behind any visit to s saint's shrine, whether made official through a certificate or special offer of indulgence or not, is the opportunity to, through prayer, request the intercession of the saint in heaven. The idea that I've heard (and may be wrong about) is that saints are currently in heaven and have more access or influence with the Almighty than us poor sinners here on Earth. Through asking them to intercede for us, we put that power behind our prayers. And while, theoretically, one can pray to a saint from anywhere, praying from a place particularly associated with the saint is more efficacious.

If I have correctly stated the theology, and it is still accepted by the Church as correct, I'm not seeing anything that would prevent someone from, when kneeling before the relics of St. James in the crypt in the Cathedral of Santiago, requesting St. James intercede in a particular way on behalf of some poor sinner, still alive, and back home. Such am intercession would have more power than the prayer of the sinner alone. And surely it would not be against Church doctrine for someone to assist the person in getting to Santiago to Compostela to request the intercession.

Just another idea to throw into the mix of this discussion on walking on behalf of other sinners.
You are essentially correct. Catholics do NOT worship saints. We do venerate them (accord them a very high degree of respect and honor) and the experience they set for us mortals by their lives.

As you correctly stated, Catholics also believe that you can pray, speaking to a saint, to request their intercession (like a go-between) with God the Almighty Father. This is similar, albeit different in degree, to praying to Jesus Christ in the persona as the Son of God, to ask for something.

I do understand that my Protestant brothers and sister believe differently, and that's fine. We are all welcome in God's BIG tent...

This is why Santiago is the patron (saint) of all who walk the Camino. We (at least Catholics) consider that he intercedes on our behalf with the Almighty to protect us and assist us on our various journeys to his relics in the Cathedral.

THAT is the basis behind the tradition of the Embracero... we ascend the stairs to give the Saint a hug and express our thanks for helping us arrive at out destination... his shrine.

Thanks for raising this and providing me the opportunity to expand a bit.

Hope this helps.
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
Just another idea to throw into the mix of this discussion on walking on behalf of other sinners.
One of the first books about a modern pilgrimage on foot from France to Compostela was published in 1978. It was translated into Galician, Castellano, Dutch and German and had a big impact on the development of the contemporary pilgrimage as we know it today. The title: Priez pour nous à Compostelle - Pray for us in Compostela.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
One of the first books about a modern pilgrimage on foot from France to Compostela was published in 1978. It was translated into Galician, Castellano, Dutch and German and had a big impact on the development of the contemporary pilgrimage as we know it today. The title: Priez pour nous à Compostelle - Pray for us in Compostela.
One of the lasting influences of that (excellent) book on the contemporary Camino is that to this day, French pilgrims are often convinced that the "proper" way starts at Le Puy -- even when they might live closer than that to Compostela and bang on top of one of the other routes.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
I am a Protestant and a repeat pilgrim to Santiago de Compostela. Oddly, I think that my view of praying for sinners may be closer to what the OP is discussing than what is presented here by pilgrims of other traditions. I know that my choice of repeated pilgrimages is a selfish choice on my part. But I wish to share any spiritual benefit for the journey with others, some of whom would not make it or have never heard of it. I carry stones for special friends, pray for them, and lay down their burdens, in intention at least, at the Cruz de Ferro. But I also feel called to pray for persons whom I know, or know of, who seem to have chosen a way contrary to the way of faith or to any decent human life. I do not do this for money, or for any other personal gain, but as an acknowledgement that people who have turned towards a totally selfish and sinful life need spiritual help. I cannot become the person whom I was created to be through my own strength and wisdom. Nor can persons who have chosen evil ways. So I ask for help for them as well as for myself, when I am on pilgrimage.
This post is intended to reply to the original post, but if it is too religious for the forum, I am content that it should be deleted.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
Wiki "In the first few theses Luther develops the idea of repentance as the Christian's inner struggle with sin rather than the external system of sacramental confession. "
And I think I am dangerously close to violating Forum rules on religious discussion--so will stick to just the historical.
It is still my understanding that the violation of these forum rules happens when the discussion gets personal or comments are interpreted as an attack on the beliefs or non-beliefs of others.

I find it beneficial to learn about the religious beliefs of other faiths. For example, we've all probably learnt at school that you could buy indulgences once and now you can't anymore. That was the extent of my knowledge about partial and plenary indulgences. I probably learnt only through this forum and assorted links that plenary indulgences are alive and well, so to speak.

Which brings me to a question in view of the Jacobean Jubilee Year 2021. When exactly can you get a plenary indulgence in the Cathedral of Santiago? Not the conditions for it, just the date(s). I think it is every day of 2021, as it was every day of 2016 but 2016 was not specific to Santiago; that was a global option.

So let me rephrase: When is it possible to obtain a plenary indulgence specifically and only in Santiago?

If I may end with a bit of humour to make a connection to the original question: After all, we don't want a paid proxy carry someone else's sins to Santiago in vain. ;)
 
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David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
Agree - but all forums seem to have the same rules to stop arguments - this, I find, is because many people don't understand the difference between and argument - a contest to see who is right - and a discussion - that is to see what is right ;)
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF April 2016 April - Jun
Del Norte, Finesterre 2018 May - Jun
An interesting concept for the modern day. I’m currently reading Sinning Accross Spain by Ailsa Piper

Sinning Across Spain is the story of Ailsa Piper's 1300 kilometre walk from the southern city of Granada to Galicia, "the bathtub of Spain", in the far northwest, carrying an unusual cargo. Aside from 10 kilograms of practicalities, she also lugged a load of sins in her swag.

In the tradition of medieval believers, or scammers, who paid others to carry their sins to holy places, and so buy forgiveness, Ailsa asked her colleagues and friends to donate a sin. She then shouldered them across country, being taunted and tempted by them along the way, and trying to discover the mysteries of faith. What is faith? Did she have it? Could she get it? Would she know it if she saw it?

Sinning across Spain celebrates the call of the road, the possibilities for connection, and the simple act of putting one foot down – and then the other, and repeat – for more than a thousand kilometres of dusty road.
An interesting concept for the modern day. I’m currently reading Sinning Accross Spain by Ailsa Piper

Sinning Across Spain is the story of Ailsa Piper's 1300 kilometre walk from the southern city of Granada to Galicia, "the bathtub of Spain", in the far northwest, carrying an unusual cargo. Aside from 10 kilograms of practicalities, she also lugged a load of sins in her swag.

In the tradition of medieval believers, or scammers, who paid others to carry their sins to holy places, and so buy forgiveness, Ailsa asked her colleagues and friends to donate a sin. She then shouldered them across country, being taunted and tempted by them along the way, and trying to discover the mysteries of faith. What is faith? Did she have it? Could she get it? Would she know it if she saw it?

Sinning across Spain celebrates the call of the road, the possibilities for connection, and the simple act of putting one foot down – and then the other, and repeat – for more than a thousand kilometres of dusty road.
Really enjoyed her book, also "The Attachment"
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
I am a Protestant and a repeat pilgrim to Santiago de Compostela. Oddly, I think that my view of praying for sinners may be closer to what the OP is discussing than what is presented here by pilgrims of other traditions. I know that my choice of repeated pilgrimages is a selfish choice on my part. But I wish to share any spiritual benefit for the journey with others, some of whom would not make it or have never heard of it. I carry stones for special friends, pray for them, and lay down their burdens, in intention at least, at the Cruz de Ferro. But I also feel called to pray for persons whom I know, or know of, who seem to have chosen a way contrary to the way of faith or to any decent human life. I do not do this for money, or for any other personal gain, but as an acknowledgement that people who have turned towards a totally selfish and sinful life need spiritual help. I cannot become the person whom I was created to be through my own strength and wisdom. Nor can persons who have chosen evil ways. So I ask for help for them as well as for myself, when I am on pilgrimage.
This post is intended to reply to the original post, but if it is too religious for the forum, I am content that it should be deleted.
Prayer is good. I do not consider it too religious, as it directly relates to the Camino.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
It is still my understanding that the violation of these forum rules happens when the discussion gets personal or comments are interpreted as an attack on the beliefs or non-beliefs of others.

I find it beneficial to learn about the religious beliefs of other faiths. For example, we've all probably learnt at school that you could buy indulgences once and now you can't anymore. That was the extent of my knowledge about partial and plenary indulgences. I probably learnt only through this forum and assorted links that plenary indulgences are alive and well, so to speak.

Which brings me to a question in view of the Jacobean Jubilee Year 2021. When exactly can you get a plenary indulgence in the Cathedral of Santiago? Not the conditions for it, just the date(s). I think it is every day of 2021, as it was every day of 2016 but 2016 was not specific to Santiago; that was a global option.

So let me rephrase: When is it possible to obtain a plenary indulgence specifically and only in Santiago?

If I may end with a bit of humour to make a connection to the original question: After all, we don't want a paid proxy carry someone else's sins to Santiago in vain. ;)
Short answer, from 12:01 AM on 1 January 2021, until 11:59:59 on 31 December 2021. This is the WHEN of the Plenary Indulgence, the entire year 2021.

To learn more about the indulgence, where and how it can be obtained, read on...

You have already stated the WHERE.

To clarify on the WHAT and HOW, here is what the Pilgrim Office website states:

WHAT - What is the Holy Year (2021)?

"The Holy Year or Compostela's Jubilee Year is a time in which the (Roman Catholic) Church grants special spiritual graces to the faithful, in imitation of what the Bible says about the Jubilee Year of the Israelites: Every 7 years was a Sabbatical Year, in which he recovered the lands who had sold them out of necessity and the slaves acquired freedom. Every 50 years was Jubilee Year (Lv, 25) .

Jesus says that He comes to announce a year of the Lord's grace (Lk 4:16).

The Church of Compostela, with its Holy Year, also grants a special year of grace."

NOTE: This occurs every Holy Year - these years occur when the Feast of the Apostle Santiago falls on Sunday. Thus, the indulgence may be available at Santiago de Compostela on a schedule different with the rest of the Church.

HOW - "To win the Jubilee (Plenary Indulgence) it is required:
  • Visit the Tomb of the Apostle in the Cathedral and pray some prayer.
  • Receive the Sacrament of confession (whether in the cathedral or anywhere else fifteen days before or after).
  • Receive Communion (at Mass)
"This Indulgence is applicable to the deceased." "

NOTE: A living person can obtain the indulgence both for themselves and to the spiritual benefit of a deceased person, who might otherwise be waiting in Purgatory... to be perfected so they can be admitted, pure, to Heaven. Thus, you can obtain this indulgence to 'spring' a friend or relation from Purgatory and speed their way through the Pearly Gates... Just sayin...

"Neither the Grace of the Jubilee nor the pilgrimage are linked, in themselves, to the Compostela. The Jubilee can be won by traveling by any means and it is possible to receive the Compostela without winning the Jubilee."

NOTE: A Pilgrimage to Santiago is NOT required. You can travel to Santiago by any means and perform the above Sacramental activities to be accorded this spiritual indulgence)


The parenthetical notes, quotes ("") and NOTES are mine and are not in the original. The language between the quote marks is direct from the website.


Here is the link to see for yourself: http://catedraldesantiago.es/peregrinacion/

Click on Win the Jubilee

Lastly, the WHO sort of defines itself. But allow me to explain Catholic teaching on this point...

Catholics are taught, and believe, that they have immortal souls from conception. Our souls are born with the stain of the Original Sin (disobedience) committed by Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden.

The Sacrament of Baptism / Christening removes the spiritual effects of this sin.

At the moment of Baptism with water, our souls are the purest they will ever be, as we have committed no sin and have had the stain of the Original Sin purged from the souls. Thus, someone who dies in this pure spiritual state can go directly to Heaven without first having to be 'perfected' in Purgatory.

The Plenary Indulgence or Jubilee Indulgence performs the same spiritual cleansing action as our first Baptism / Christening. Even as adults, with "many miles on our individual life-clocks," if we perform the required activities, as listed above, the Church considers that we have earned a NEW cleansing of our souls.

The penalty of having to be perfected in Purgatory, even for forgiven sins, is wiped away.

From the moment we complete all the required activities, the Church teaches that we are perfected again and prompted for immediate entry to Heaven on our death. Of course, being mortals, and adults, we will no doubt commit new sins. So, the cyclic process starts again.

Thus to be eligible to receive a spiritual Plenary Indulgence (at least according to Catholic dogma), one must:
  • Visit the Tomb of the Apostle at Santiago and venerate the relics...with prayer... in the crypt.
  • Be a baptised, practicing Catholic
  • Receive the Sacrament of Confession, making a full confession of all sins not yet forgiven.
  • Attend a Mass and receive the Sacrament of Communion
Easy peasy... sort of...

As I am merely a lay person and a lifelong Catholic, I do not have all the answers. Heck, I barely have enough for myself.

At 66, I am still a work in progress. Recently, I became a lay brother (confrade) in the Archicofradia Universal del Apostle Santiago at Santiago de Compostela. My mission, as it were, is to spread the word about the Camino, the cult of Santiago, and to help all pilgrims. I've been doing this as a matter of course, since I first learned of the Camino, so being invited to become a member last summer was a distinct honor.

But there are several Catholic priests who are members of the forum. I invite them to correct any errors I made, or to flesh out anything that calls for a better explanation. Knowledge is good.

Hope this helps.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
It is still my understanding that the violation of these forum rules happens when the discussion gets personal or comments are interpreted as an attack on the beliefs or non-beliefs of others.
I don't really view it like that, for me the -- VERY fuzzy -- dividing line is between religious information that is directly useful concerning the Camino and/or to Pilgrims and/or Hospitaleros etc ; and other religious stuff that clearly is NOT

Of course, attacks against others are part of that latter category, but at the same time they violate the general rule of "do not attack personally the other forum members".
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
"Neither the Grace of the [Plenary Indulgence] nor the pilgrimage are linked, in themselves, to the Compostela. The [Plenary Indulgence] can be won by traveling by any means and it is possible to receive the Compostela without winning the [Plenary Indulgence]."
Thank you for this comprehensive post, @t2andreo. I’ve bookmarked it. I suppose this topic may come up more often with the approach of the year 2021 and its good to have such clarification. It’s a serious topic for those concerned.
 

john mullen

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
french 2009 and 2017. either portuguese or Le Puy in 2018
An interesting concept for the modern day. I’m currently reading Sinning Accross Spain by Ailsa Piper

Sinning Across Spain is the story of Ailsa Piper's 1300 kilometre walk from the southern city of Granada to Galicia, "the bathtub of Spain", in the far northwest, carrying an unusual cargo. Aside from 10 kilograms of practicalities, she also lugged a load of sins in her swag.

In the tradition of medieval believers, or scammers, who paid others to carry their sins to holy places, and so buy forgiveness, Ailsa asked her colleagues and friends to donate a sin. She then shouldered them across country, being taunted and tempted by them along the way, and trying to discover the mysteries of faith. What is faith? Did she have it? Could she get it? Would she know it if she saw it?

Sinning across Spain celebrates the call of the road, the possibilities for connection, and the simple act of putting one foot down – and then the other, and repeat – for more than a thousand kilometres of dusty road.
Mullo49@gmail.com i read the book and both the concept and the interaction during her caminoa between Ailsa and the people she walked for was fascinating
 

BPG2017

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
September 2017
I'm not going to try and reiterate the excellent discussion above about the possibility of getting a Compostela or an Indulgence for someone else, either living or deceased. But I think there is another possibility that may come into play and may still be valid in current Catholic thinking. I am not Catholic myself, so I will ask anyone more knowledgeable than I to step in and correct me if I get any of this wrong.

It seems to me that one of the things behind any visit to s saint's shrine, whether made official through a certificate or special offer of indulgence or not, is the opportunity to, through prayer, request the intercession of the saint in heaven. The idea that I've heard (and may be wrong about) is that saints are currently in heaven and have more access or influence with the Almighty than us poor sinners here on Earth. Through asking them to intercede for us, we put that power behind our prayers. And while, theoretically, one can pray to a saint from anywhere, praying from a place particularly associated with the saint is more efficacious.

If I have correctly stated the theology, and it is still accepted by the Church as correct, I'm not seeing anything that would prevent someone from, when kneeling before the relics of St. James in the crypt in the Cathedral of Santiago, requesting St. James intercede in a particular way on behalf of some poor sinner, still alive, and back home. Such am intercession would have more power than the prayer of the sinner alone. And surely it would not be against Church doctrine for someone to assist the person in getting to Santiago to Compostela to request the intercession.

Just another idea to throw into the mix of this discussion on walking on behalf of other sinners.
Totally right, David, and in fact we practicing Catholic pilgrims will typically spend as long as we dare (with that queue waiting behind us…) in front of the relics of Santiago, praying for MANY special intentions, and special people, whom we carried with us on the Camino (and for whom we prayed every day, all along the Way). It is "technically" not the same as the indulgence (which means freeing ourselves, or the deceased person, from the otherworldly penance that they must fulfil, before final salvation, for the sins they committed in this world), but we believe it is a very special, powerful prayer.
Getting someone else to do it for you - well, clearly, the real value is accessed only if the other person is a true pilgrim. So: you must be paying to enable that other person, who wants to do the Camino for themselves but could otherwise not afford it, to go on the Camino. Then you can be sure you will benefit from their prayer. But if someone walked the x hundred kilometers just to earn money, their prayer at the shrine would not have the same special quality as that of a true pilgrim, even if otherwise sincere.
 

Steeplechase

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
September 2019 - 1st Camino - CF, Burgos to Astorga
The penalty of having to be perfected in Purgatory, even for forgiven sins, is wiped away.

From the moment we complete all the required activities, the Church teaches that we are perfected again and prompted for immediate entry to Heaven on our death.
Thank you t2andreo, I have been curious about whether it would be acceptable for me to earn an indulgence for a deceased family member when I'm a baptized but not practicing Catholic. I appreciate you taking such care to explain a pretty confusing topic.

I found this in a guide to the Camino San Salvador, a plenary indulgence available annually for one week in September in Oviedo:

La Perdonanza is a week long festival or Jubilee, from the 14th to the 21st of September every year in Oviedo. During these days, believers may obtain a plenary indulgence, which brings a pardon of all sins. Unlike Santiago, in which the faithful must wait for a Holy Year to obtain an indulgence, in Oviedo it is available every year.

This indulgence, given by Pope John VIII on the request of Alfonso II, will be granted to anyone who goes into the Cathedral, prays before the statue of El Salvador (Christ the Savior) and before the relics of the Holy Chamber (including the Holy Shroud, the Holy Chest, the Crosses of Victory and of the Angels, and the agate chest). The Jubilee is always celebrated on the same dates, tied to the festival of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and the Holy Days of San Mateo (Saint Matthew). The presence of a pilgrims’ hospital and a pilgrims’ cemetery in Oviedo gives us an idea of its importance as a religious center.


I've seen a few images in my camino guide books and medieval art history classes depicting souls waiting to be freed from purgatory. Is this the function of an indulgence when earned for the deceased?

Is there anything tangible associated with an earned indulgence, any way it is officially submitted or delivered?
 

BPG2017

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
September 2017
Agree - but all forums seem to have the same rules to stop arguments - this, I find, is because many people don't understand the difference between and argument - a contest to see who is right - and a discussion - that is to see what is right ;)
Gosh, David, kudos! That is the best definition of discussion versus argument that I have ever heard in my life. Is it your own, or did you get it from somewhere?
 

BPG2017

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
September 2017
Thank you t2andreo, I have been curious about whether it would be acceptable for me to earn an indulgence for a deceased family member when I'm a baptized but not practicing Catholic. I appreciate you taking such care to explain a pretty confusing topic.

I found this in a guide to the Camino San Salvador, a plenary indulgence available annually for one week in September in Oviedo:

La Perdonanza is a week long festival or Jubilee, from the 14th to the 21st of September every year in Oviedo. During these days, believers may obtain a plenary indulgence, which brings a pardon of all sins. Unlike Santiago, in which the faithful must wait for a Holy Year to obtain an indulgence, in Oviedo it is available every year.

This indulgence, given by Pope John VIII on the request of Alfonso II, will be granted to anyone who goes into the Cathedral, prays before the statue of El Salvador (Christ the Savior) and before the relics of the Holy Chamber (including the Holy Shroud, the Holy Chest, the Crosses of Victory and of the Angels, and the agate chest). The Jubilee is always celebrated on the same dates, tied to the festival of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and the Holy Days of San Mateo (Saint Matthew). The presence of a pilgrims’ hospital and a pilgrims’ cemetery in Oviedo gives us an idea of its importance as a religious center.


I've seen a few images in my camino guide books and medieval art history classes depicting souls waiting to be freed from purgatory. Is this the function of an indulgence when earned for the deceased?

Is there anything tangible associated with an earned indulgence, any way it is officially submitted or delivered?
Yes for the medieval images. That is exactly the function of an indulgence.
No for the tangible proof. There is none, it's between you and God and the departed soul for whom you gain it.
And don't worry about the not-practicing part! Since Confession and Communion are part of the necessary actions, you'll automatically become a practicing Catholic, temporarily, if you go ahead with this generous act! :) Blessings on you! :)
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
I noticed that the text quoted from the guidebook left out the part about the necessity of confession and communion.

There‘s another question on my mind but I’m not going to ask it as it can be seen as „discussing religion“ which is against forum rules.

But this question should be ok: The guidebook text states that you can get a Plenary Indulgence in Oviedo every year in September but only in specific years in Santiago. Which is of course a correct statement. So my question is this: Are Catholics aware of the changes since the Middle Ages and are they aware of the many more opportunities to gain a Plenary Indulgence for themselves or a deceased person in 2019?
 

BPG2017

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
September 2017
I noticed that the text quoted from the guidebook left out the part about the necessity of confession and communion.

There‘s another question on my mind but I’m not going to ask it as it can be seen as „discussing religion“ which is against forum rules.

But this question should be ok: The guidebook text states that you can get a Plenary Indulgence in Oviedo every year in September but only in specific years in Santiago. Which is of course a correct statement. So my question is this: Are Catholics aware of the changes since the Middle Ages and are they aware of the many more opportunities to gain a Plenary Indulgence for themselves or a deceased person in 2019?
Well, that's a bit of a general question… :) I am not sure it is possible to work out whether the majority do or the majority don't. I suppose the average Catholic will know more about today's rules than about the medieval ones. And yes, there are many ways to gain Plenary indulgences - the "easiest" by far is watching the Easter and New Year Papal blessing on TV - but the condition of Confession, Communion and prayers for the intentions of the Pope, is always (and WAS always) attached. Maybe that is why it was not even mentioned in your guidebook - it is taken as a matter of course.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
there are many ways to gain Plenary indulgences - the "easiest" by far is watching the Easter and New Year Papal blessing on TV - but the condition of Confession, Communion and prayers for the intentions of the Pope, is always (and WAS always) attached
Thank you for your reply, @BPG2017. Interesting in this context may be the option of gaining a Plenary Indulgence for a deceased person by visiting a cemetery each day between November 1 and November 8 plus fulfilling the other usual conditions.

If I understand correctly, and this is rarely mentioned, for a Plenary Indulgence to take effect so to speak one has to have a genuine intention and attitude which also involves the intention to live closer to faith and God (I'm expressing this badly, I know). It certainly isn't a formal transaction - I do this and then I get it in return - and as you pointed out one doesn't receive a paper or other material token. Obtaining a Plenary Indulgence also doesn't require a pilgrimage, whether on foot or otherwise. This is one of several major differences between now and then: in earlier times people could get a Plenary Indulgence only at special places and they had to travel there, often on foot as they had no other means.

So the question is why even go to Santiago or Oviedo or Rome today to obtain a Plenary Indulgence when you might as well get it at home? Surely there's no difference in value depending on the location? I suppose the answer would be that a special environment may help to increase one's inner commitment, intention and attitude.
 

BPG2017

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
September 2017
Thank you for your reply, @BPG2017. Interesting in this context may be the option of gaining a Plenary Indulgence for a deceased person by visiting a cemetery each day between November 1 and November 8 plus fulfilling the other usual conditions.

If I understand correctly, and this is rarely mentioned, for a Plenary Indulgence to take effect so to speak one has to have a genuine intention and attitude which also involves the intention to live closer to faith and God (I'm expressing this badly, I know). It certainly isn't a formal transaction - I do this and then I get it in return - and as you pointed out one doesn't receive a paper or other material token. Obtaining a Plenary Indulgence also doesn't require a pilgrimage, whether on foot or otherwise. This is one of several major differences between now and then: in earlier times people could get a Plenary Indulgence only at special places and they had to travel there, often on foot as they had no other means.

So the question is why even go to Santiago or Oviedo or Rome today to obtain a Plenary Indulgence when you might as well get it at home? Surely there's no difference in value depending on the location? I suppose the answer would be that a special environment may help to increase one's inner commitment, intention and attitude.
As a practicing Catholic, you don't do the Camino to gain a plenary indulgence. As you say, there are easier ways to gain that. You go as a special, once-in-a-lifetime major devout act, for whatever intention, or (as in my case) for no specific intention other than to grow in faith and pray for all those whom I usually pray for. The plenary indulgence is, so to speak, a side benefit. (I did my Confession in Burgos, making it a general life confession, after many days meditating on the road. Communion many times along the way, of course.)
 

Steeplechase

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
September 2019 - 1st Camino - CF, Burgos to Astorga
But there are several Catholic priests who are members of the forum. I invite them to correct any errors I made, or to flesh out anything that calls for a better explanation. Knowledge is good.
This is such a great discussion, but I'm also feeling myself in danger of veering off into a few potential 'no-go' religion questions, like how to confess and commune as a first-timer. I should work this in to my other preparation so it can come from a sincere place. Rule 2 does acknowledge the Camino and Religion are closely linked & so the fuzziness is unavoidable.

Are there other places (other forums, other sites, dial-a-sister...) where these questions are welcome? I would be happy to put a sort of external referral list to share under the 'Resources' tab here. When people have these types of questions they can be sent in a helpful direction, outside this community and perhaps toward a one-on-one discussion. This will send a message that the questioning is fine - encouraged, in fact - here is just not the right place for it
 

BPG2017

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
September 2017
This is such a great discussion, but I'm also feeling myself in danger of veering off into a few potential 'no-go' religion questions, like how to confess and commune as a first-timer. I should work this in to my other preparation so it can come from a sincere place. Rule 2 does acknowledge the Camino and Religion are closely linked & so the fuzziness is unavoidable.

Are there other places (other forums, other sites, dial-a-sister...) where these questions are welcome? I would be happy to put a sort of external referral list to share under the 'Resources' tab here. When people have these types of questions they can be sent in a helpful direction, outside this community and perhaps toward a one-on-one discussion. This will send a message that the questioning is fine - encouraged, in fact - here is just not the right place for it
I'll take the risk and answer you. I really don't see why it should be illegal, when a future pilgrim asks for it, seeing that we are giving all kinds of practical, psychological and spiritual advice!

You say you are a "first-timer". Does that mean you have never been to Confession and have not received First Communion? How well are you aware of their meaning and importance, and of the conditions for receiving them worthily?
 

Steeplechase

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
September 2019 - 1st Camino - CF, Burgos to Astorga
You say you are a "first-timer". Does that mean you have never been to Confession and have not received First Communion? How well are you aware of their meaning and importance, and of the conditions for receiving them worthily?
Thank you for taking the risk!
I was baptized Catholic but received First Communion in the Methodist church (parents divorced and my religious upbringing changed in the process) and spent summers at a born-again-Christian summer camp. Now 46, I've pieced together a regular spiritual practice that feels personally authentic. While I've had no formal Catechism, I sense the importance of these things and desire to receive them worthily on behalf of my family member. I suppose I'm just not sure how to get started.
 

Barbara

Active Member
Simple answer to the OP is NO. Each person seeking a Compostela must present themselves and their evidence of completion (a properly stamped credencial).

For example, a couple comes to the Pilgrim Office after completing their Camino. One person leaves the partner in line while they go off to their hotel, have lunch, etc. The partner CANNOT obtain both their Compostela and the Compostela for the absent partner. The absent person MUST return to the other partner in line BEFORE they accede to the front of the queue... PERIOD!

I cannot tell you how many times I have to tell the left behind partner to call, text, or go fetch the wandering pilgrim. It happens every day. The rules are simple. One present and eligible face, one Compostela...

The SOLE EXCEPTION is that a living pilgrim may obtain their Compostela, in their name (the one one the credencial), but with the name of a second person appended to it at the bottom. This is called 'In Vicare Pro." It is Latin and colloquially means "in place of." It is used to dedicate a Compostela and all spiritual rights thereunto appertaining (if any) to both the person obtaining the Compostela AND the named person.

The second person, not present, and named "In Vicare Pro" MUST be either deceased OR living, but in a physical condition that makes their ability to do their own pilgrimage a non-issue. For example, I have done "In Vicare Pro" pilgrimages dedicated to both my deceased brother and father, as well as my living but 86-year old mother.

I have, on several occasions, encountered surviving children, siblings or spouses in the Pilgrim Office queue who have TWO fully stamped credencials, one for themselves and one for another person who is deceased. They ask me if they can obtain a second Compostela for the deceased person.

The answer is always a polite NO. However, I explain the "in Vicaro Pro" provision. This usually accomplishes their purpose, to dedicate the pilgrimage, and obtain whatever spiritual benefits that may accrue, to the deceased person.

NOTE: Catholic Church dogma specifically allows for a living person to accomplish the pilgrimage and obtain a Compostela In Vicare Pro to the benefit of a deceased or invalid person.

NOTE - 2: This is a one-at-a-time thing. One living pilgrim can only obtain one In Vicare Pro dedication on one Compostela. To obtain the In Vicare Pro dedication for two or more deceased or invalid persons, you would have to do two or more pilgrimages...

Hope this is clear and helps the dialog.
That's very clear, thank you. I did exactly that for a good friend who was ill. He died a few days after I returned home, but he had a copy of the Compostela that I emailed to him. His widow has the original, she collected it from me a couple of weeks ago.
 

BPG2017

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
September 2017
Thank you for taking the risk!
I was baptized Catholic but received First Communion in the Methodist church (parents divorced and my religious upbringing changed in the process) and spent summers at a born-again-Christian summer camp. Now 46, I've pieced together a regular spiritual practice that feels personally authentic. While I've had no formal Catechism, I sense the importance of these things and desire to receive them worthily on behalf of my family member. I suppose I'm just not sure how to get started.
That makes it a little complex. Catholic and Methodist understandings of the nature of Communion are slightly different, and Methodism does not recognize Confession to a priest. In your own heart, would you be able to approach these two Sacraments in a Catholic spirit? More precisely,

- would you be able to kneel in front of a Catholic priest sincerely, explain your interfaith situation, confess all your major lifetime sins and sinful habits, promise to make all efforts not to commit them again, and "ask for the forgiveness of God and for a penance and absolution from you, Father" (these are the actual words you use)?
-after that, receive the Catholic Eucharist with awe in your heart, in full belief in the real presence of the Body of Christ?

If you feel you would be able to do these things, in all personal sincerity and faith in them, then I would say, by all means, do! (And don't talk about it too much, because many Catholics would disagree with me and say that you cannot, since you have not had formal instruction and initiation in the Catholic Sacraments).

On the other hand, if you feel that you would have a mental reservation, doing them "only" for the sake of your loved one, then it might be better to go the In Vicare Pro way. After all, dedicating the entire pilgrimage to your loved one surely has as much value before God than the pious, formalised tradition of a "plenary indulgence".
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances
SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia, May 2016
C. Frances, Sept 2017
Camino Portugues, June 2019
Last time I walked the Camino Frances, the Holy Door at the cathedral in Santiago was open. As one who has never sinned, I walked through it and now I have Credit to use for any potential future sins. I feel so free.
 

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