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Pilgrimage rules

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
#1
Mmmm ... Peter wrote:
One thing I regret about 'The Camino' now as opposed to 20 years ago, when there were few pilgrims and no rules, is that it's become rather formulaic, bound up in spurious 'rules' about what 'pilgrims' should do and how they should think,
Perhaps we are getting closer to the medieval pilgimage than we think! Nearly every book or article I've ever read on the medieval pilgrimage tells about the many rules and regulations covering almost every part of the individuals' pilgrimage.
If you were an English Jacobean pilgrim in the 1400's you would first have to get a licencia giving you permission to leave the country (a medieval passport); permission to take money out of the country (no silver was allowed to leave the country) a letter stating the purpose of your journey and the date of your return. The mode of your dress was proscribed to distinguish you from a common vagabond (long dark cloak, wide hat, staff, gourd and scrip); you would be told how to behave in foreign lands and, depending on your status, viewing of different relics would be restricted. The 'psuedo-guide' of Aimery Picaud stresses that the ideal for a pilgrim to St James is one of holy poverty and not luxury.
 

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Peter Robins

Veteran Member
Donating Member
#2
There still are travel and currency restrictions in many countries around the world, and were in many European countries until 15-20 years ago. In medieval times, travel was unusual and limited to those with special dispensation from Church or State. Pilgrims had a special status, coming under the protection of the Church. They had to be able to prove to the authorities that they were bona-fide pilgrims, through a letter or other 'credentials'. And even if they had that, they might still need a safe-conduct pass to cross a particular state.

But that all seems to me a bit different. Those are the laws of the land, which all travellers have to adhere to. Fortunately for those of us today who like travelling, few of these restrictions still exist in Europe. You still have to show a passport/id card when required, but otherwise there are no restrictions from the State, not even at border crossings. The Spanish Church encourages people to focus on spiritual aspects, and would prefer it if pilgrimages were under its aegis, but it imposes no rules and has no power to enforce them even if it wanted to. The 'rules' I was talking about aren't rules at all; they're figments of people's imagination.

Btw, talking of the pilgrim garb (and of Goethe), Goethe recounts meeting pilgrims wearing this near Venice in his Italienische Reise - though they seem to have been having a hard time of it. The Penguin xlation is on Google Books (if that link doesn't work search for 'compostela', p75). Interesting that there were still some around at that late date.
 
#3
Sil wrote: "the ideal for a pilgrim to St James is one of holy poverty and not luxury".

After a deeply satisfying pilgrimage to Lourdes, staying at a 3 star hotel there and doing the Lourdes things, I managed to persuade my wife of 35 years to do the St James Walk in parts. I started to peruse this site to get more information and learnt a lot, it however turned into an information overload. My first question on this forum was to elicit what is a pilgrimage, and how the pilgrim should behave on the Way to St James. I had some extremely disturbing answers to this simple question. On the forum I keep reading of bed-bugs. Cold water showers or no showers. Insufficient and dirty toilets, and queues at washing places. Being turned away at albergues, sleeping on floors. No where to buy food. Rustling plastic bags, switching on lights, waking people before dawn. The race for beds. Sleeping in dormitories and advises to use earplug.

I could not risk turning our pilgrimage into a rite of penance, and did our first stage staying in modest accommodation. We took time out to appreciate the culture, historical buildings, and the people we met. We took time off to divert to Lisbon and Fatima before returning to see Santiago.

Your sentence above is like a ray of light: it answers my question and I will gladly accept holy poverty, I can even persuade my wife to accept it. But I know she would dread, as others, wholly unnecessary sufferings from bedbugs; sleeping on floors; noisy and inconsiderate dormitory mates; cold showers and dirty toilets; no room at the inn; etc. all these are human failings, and is not a condition to live in holy poverty.

This posting may be out of context but is an honest comment after reading so many postings and blogs on the Camino.
 

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