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Religious Habit/Cassock

SolomonofTM

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2016)
So I'm going to be doing the Camino near the end of summer and had a bit of a thought/worry.

I'm a seminary student a few years out from ordination. The tradition where I'm from is the habit/cassock is worn very frequently. I've been wanting to do the Camino for many years and now that I have the opportunity, I have wanted to do at least part of it in my habit. The habit includes a cloak with hood for the rain made of treated canvas and the habit is made of lightweight wool. This would consist of my daily gear for clothing.

I've worn it on muddy roads, in the rain, etc. and it's never given me much trouble. Also, as I'm in the process of getting another habit, I've written off this cassock and won't be too upset if the Spanish mud and rain destroys it.

I've done a lot of hiking and camping and frankly I don't own many more garments, but I could grab a few pairs of shorts and shirts. I'm transitioning from one part of my life to the other and to bear my habit on a trek is to be a deeply religious expression and experience.

I guess I'm not asking if it will be easy to do so, I already know it'll be more difficult to do it this way than to simply wear some shorts and a t-shirt. I guess I"m asking if it would be an unreasonable burden (I'm Catholic, so keep that in mind when you think "unreasonable". That's a high bar to reach).

Thanks for the insights!
James
 
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koilife

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF w/ son #1 (2013); Logrono-Leon/Salvador/Primitivo w/ son #2 (2016); Portugues w/ son #3 (2020)
Many seminarians, religious, and clerics walk the Camino, most of them in plain clothes. The usual and obvious sign is the breviary. That being said, being willing to be a visible sign, especially if it will enhance your own spiritual journey, seems a worthy reason to carry the extra weight of a habit or cassock. For habitted orders, the habit is part of one's identity in Christ, so it's quite "reasonable" to walk in that context.
 

Kitsambler

Jakobsweg Junkie
Year of past OR future Camino
Le Puy 2010-11, Prague 2012, Nuremberg 2013, Einsiedeln 2015, Geneva 2017-19
Your plan is surely an honorable one and will bring many memories in years to come. Some practicalities to consider may be: how to handle laundering your cassock (how to wash, how to dry - or does one dry clean?). And what about rain protection?
 

SolomonofTM

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2016)
Your plan is surely an honorable one and will bring many memories in years to come. Some practicalities to consider may be: how to handle laundering your cassock (how to wash, how to dry - or does one dry clean?). And what about rain protection?

I'm planning on wearing shorts and a t-shirt under it. Those are probably the only things I'll really launder unless I have to. This cassock I haven't washed in, yes this is disgusting, almost a year. And I wear it around quite often. Keeping on some under clothes keeps the body gunk off if. Though, while walking I know that won't necessarily be the case, but I hope it can last the month. Heck, a bit of mud and dirt are badges if anything. Though, if I have to wash it, I know how.

As for the rain, I have a clerical cloak that's made more traveling, especially in the rain. And it fits over my pack. It's a canvas poncho, basically.

My only real worry is scaring people off, if I'm honest... I know some people may be put off by it, but that's something I'm used to. It's the life.
 

MichaelB10398

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Le Puy to Santiago de Compostela, Lourdes to SdC, SJPP to SdC
James, you will not have a problem. Being a religious on Camino is as natural as the Camino itself. You will be welcomed and embraced as all pilgrims are on Camino. Please do not give it another thought.

Depending on the time of year the wearing of the habit should not cause much problems. The hotter the temperature the more the discomfort for you and maybe for others if it is not laundered, but we are all pilgrims and we all stink.

Peace and Buen Camino,
 
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Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
A lightweight woollen cassock would seem to me particularly good as walking gear! Wool does not smell, it has that wonderful property of being able to regulate temperate, so it is cool when the weather is hot (especially a loose garment), yet stays warm when it is wet.

In hot weather I would wear the cassock with undies only. Keep the shorts and T shirt for when you wash the cassock. Which is not difficult, btw. Just don't use hot water or a dryer - tepid water, wool wash and line dry. Which is what I do with my woollen court robe. Or did, when I had to wear it. Never thought of converting it into hiking gear - um, there's an idea. You might start a fashion.
 

Pingüigrino

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, Aragones, Vasco del Interior, Baztanes. (Frances Winter, La Plata, Camino de Invierno, Mozarabe, Norte, Primitivo.)
James, no problem walking the Camino wearing your habits. You will scare no one at Spain. You´ll be walking mainly on rural Spain, . We are used to see people wearing catholics habits, buddist clothes, traditional korean clothes, mediaval clothes, templar armors ... Usually monks, priests, etc are respected. At certain sites you can be treaty like a special guest. Buen Camino.
 
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Stephen Nicholls

Steve Nicholls, Suffolk, U.K.
Year of past OR future Camino
Too many caminos to list in the permitted 100 characters!!
There you go, James - it has all been said.
To be honest, I am delighted with the results and comments from the other Forum members :).
When you walk your camino in your habit [note I say "when" not "if"] you can maybe expect questions of curiosity from other pilgrims: but that will be a wonderful opportunity to express your belief and hope in Christ Jesus.
Let's face it - many, many monks used to walk the camino in centuries past ..... sometimes paid to do so for the confessed sins of other, richer men, who were promised absolution if their representative [the monks] went to Santiago.
Buen camino y Vaya con Dios! [Go with God],
 

SolomonofTM

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2016)
Wow, to be frank, I wasn't expecting so many great replies. Thank you everyone!

I'm hoping to walk at the end of August through September. I appreciate all the support and, with the help of this forum, hopefully I'll prepare well enough. Buen Camino!
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Spring 2016: Camino Frances, Finisterre and Muxia
April 2019: Frances, Salvador, Primitivo
I honor you and your journey by wanting to walk in your habit. May it work out well for you, and Buen Camino!
 
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Introibo

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances ( March 2015 )
Camino Portugues ( September 2015 )
I've had many an outing with priests wearing a soutane and the reception is invariably favourable
and this was in England and Scotland. You'll do just fine in Spain.

For a moment there Matthew 10:33 came to mind. If you deny Me before men, I will deny you before My Father.
Not that I want to start putting pressure on you :)

Pax et bonum
 
Year of past OR future Camino
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
Whilst walking the CF last year, I frequently met a Priest who was walking in his habit. He felt that as walking the Camino was kind of part of his 'job' he should walk in 'Uniform'. He was very popular with all the Pilgrims and I personally admired him for walking with such an obvious display of his faith. I know he was a great comfort to many Pilgrims along the way. Me included.

He actually had a simple habit made for the Camino. Of a very lightweight fabric that was easy to clean and dry. And like you plan to, just wore shorts and t shirts when washing it.

Buen Camino.
 

Felipe

Veteran Member
I have met clergymen two times in the Camino, in different years. They were walking with groups of parishioners, and they ministered in some places. One of them was wearing a cassock ; the other had just a clerical collar. Both identified them clearly as religious persons in Spain.
Consider that, even in late Summer, it will be very hot.
Anyway, I am sure you will have a great experience. And take notice that there are many parish or monastic albergues along the Camino, although not all of them are run by the religious themselves.
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
For more on Monasteries and Convents which host pilgrims along the Camino Frances see this earlier Forum thread as well as my posted list quoted below.


Below is my reformatted list which I hope you find useful.
MM.

Active Monasteries/Convents/Chapter houses Along the CF Which Host Pilgrims


listed by Etapa/Stage in geographic sequence from east to west along the camino
long/lat coordinates are given and sites are located on an interactive Google map

accommodation may be pilgrim albergue, hospederia, or on-site hotel
available Eroski and Gronze albergue citations as well as site specific webs are linked
mspath links my relevant 2004-2014 Camino Gazetteer posts/photos

Etapa/Stage 1--Roncevalles, long./lat. 43.009829, -1.319609
Real Colegiata de Roncesvalles,
three albergues; new, old and winter, in monastery structures
three hotels
Eroski >
Gronze >
monastery web>
albergue web >
lodging web >
////
mspath >

Etapa/Stage 3--Trinidad de Arre, long./lat. 42.836184, -1.604158
Santisma Trinidad de Arre
albergue in monastery garden
Eroski >
Gronze>
monastery web>
albergue web>
////
mspath>

Etapa/Stage 9--Santo Domingo de la Calzada, long./lat. 42.439793, -2.951042
Nuestra Senora de la Anunciacion
albergue in monastery
Eroski >
Gronze>
monastery web>
albergue web>

lodging web>
////
mspath>


Etapa/Section 12-- (off CF se of Burgos), Santo Domingo de Silos, long./lat. 41.961894, -3.419348
Monasterio Santo Domingo de Silos
monastery web>
hosperderia for men only hosperderia web >

Etapa/Stage 15--Carrion de los Condes, long./lat. 42.336832, -4.598489
Monasterio de Santa Clara,
albergue-hospederia in monastery
Eroski>
Gronze>

Espiritu Santo, long./lat. 42.336262, -4.602998
albergue in monastery
Eroski>
Gronze>
////
mspath>


Etapa/Stage 17--Sahagun, long./lat/ 42.369572, -5.035756
Monasterio de las Madres Benedictinas de Santa Cruz
albergue-hospederia in monastery
Eroski >
Gronze>
monastery web>
////

Etapa/Stage 18--Leon, long./lat. 42.595183, -5.567970
Monasterio de las Benedictinas (Carbajalas), albergue in monastery
hospederia in monastery
Eroski >
Gronze>
monastery web>
////
mspath>

Etapa/Stage 21--Rabanal del Camino, long./lat. 42.482154, -6.284901
San Salvador de Monte Irago Monasterio
(spiritual retreats of 2 or more nights)
monastery web>
////
mspath>

Etapa/Stage 26--Samos, long./lat. 42.732478, -7.325386
Monasterio de Samos,
albergue in monastery
hospederia in monastery
Eroski >
Gronze>
monastery web>
////
mspath>

Etapa/Stage 26--Sarria, long./lat, 42.778979, -7.420942
Monasterio de la Magdalena,
albergue in monastery
Eroski >
Gronze>

Etapa/Stage 29--Sobrado dos Monxes, ( off CF north of Melide,) long./lat. 43.038674, -8.022554
Santa Maria do Sobrado Monasterio
albergue in ex stable
hospederia in monastery
monastery web>
////
mspath>
 

Jo Jo

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF, July '14 & Sep-Oct '16
Via di Francesco, July '15,
CP Oct. '17, Salvador & Primitivo Sep '19
We saw a bevy of novice brothers walking in their robes (July 2014). I'm not sure what order (although we took to calling them "Los Hermanos de la Alburgue Cerrado" after an incident when one brother, sent far ahead of the others, presented 20+ credentials and took all the remaining beds in the "singing nun" albuergue in Carrion). Despite that incident, they were all great guys (and fed us some very good pasta in Hospital) and the robes (almost white in color) seemed to work well for walking. Dark Benedictine robes would have been a disaster in the summer sun.

The only thing I would say is that any distinctive clothing marks a person and sets them apart. That is the point of wearing it. As long as you are okay with that, Buen Camino.

Jo Jo
 
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David

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
James - why not? I wear a francsican robe sometimes and others just ordinary hiking kit (mainly in brown!). The difference wearing a robe is that you will be engaged in smiling conversations with many pilgrims - not about yourself so much but they letting you know why they are on pilgrimage, etc, people reveal themselves - you will also have to pose for many photographs. It is a pilgrimage and you already live being on a pilgrimage as you are now at home - wear your robe.

As for practicalities .. my robe is also wool (though I do have a tropical weight cotton one as well) so has both cooling and warming properties as well as being naturally water resistant though, as you know, not waterproof. My top rain cover is an Altus poncho - very light. It is marvellous to walk along in a robe - so comfortable, all that air around the legs and groin. The desert Africans wear long hooded robes in the sun as they are both protective and cooling - I have worn mine in both hot sun and snow and been comfortable in both. Mine has a separate capuche and this is the heaviest and only slightly ungainly part of the robe .. but with hood up one is protected from the weather; hot, cold, windy, rainy.
Underneath I wear a t shirt and Merino wool boxers though I also carry a shirt and light shorts so that I do not walk around a refugio in my underwear. With sleeping all one needs is a liner as the robe can be used as a coverlet if necessary.

In nine years I have only had this robe cleaned once - so I understand your position on that!! However, in the large shopping malls in the cities it is common to find 'One Hour' dry cleaners so should you need it cleaned this would not be difficult.

As for the religious aspect of who and what you are and what the Camino is - I see no conflict, quite the opposite ... to me there should be more wearing religious clothing - it is a pilgrimage after all.

Just one possible negative ... some of the older male Spaniards, those who remember the civil war or the aftermath of it ... some of those are not so supportive of those in robes - they won't say anything but may give a dark look as they pass. I respond with a soft smile.

I wish you a Buen Camino James.
 

Pingüigrino

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, Aragones, Vasco del Interior, Baztanes. (Frances Winter, La Plata, Camino de Invierno, Mozarabe, Norte, Primitivo.)
James - why not? I wear a francsican robe sometimes and others just ordinary hiking kit (mainly in brown!). The difference wearing a robe is that you will be engaged in smiling conversations with many pilgrims - not about yourself so much but they letting you know why they are on pilgrimage, etc, people reveal themselves - you will also have to pose for many photographs. It is a pilgrimage and you already live being on a pilgrimage as you are now at home - wear your robe.

As for practicalities .. my robe is also wool (though I do have a tropical weight cotton one as well) so has both cooling and warming properties as well as being naturally water resistant though, as you know, not waterproof. My top rain cover is an Altus poncho - very light. It is marvellous to walk along in a robe - so comfortable, all that air around the legs and groin. The desert Africans wear long hooded robes in the sun as they are both protective and cooling - I have worn mine in both hot sun and snow and been comfortable in both. Mine has a separate capuche and this is the heaviest and only slightly ungainly part of the robe .. but with hood up one is protected from the weather; hot, cold, windy, rainy.
Underneath I wear a t shirt and Merino wool boxers though I also carry a shirt and light shorts so that I do not walk around a refugio in my underwear. With sleeping all one needs is a liner as the robe can be used as a coverlet if necessary.

In nine years I have only had this robe cleaned once - so I understand your position on that!! However, in the large shopping malls in the cities it is common to find 'One Hour' dry cleaners so should you need it cleaned this would not be difficult.

As for the religious aspect of who and what you are and what the Camino is - I see no conflict, quite the opposite ... to me there should be more wearing religious clothing - it is a pilgrimage after all.

Just one possible negative ... some of the older male Spaniards, those who remember the civil war or the aftermath of it ... some of those are not so supportive of those in robes - they won't say anything but may give a dark look as they pass. I respond with a soft smile.

I wish you a Buen Camino James.

Hi David. I think nowadays it is easier to be mocked by a group of young drunken people at big cities, than recibing dark look by older men. Sometimes at small towns you can find men looking rude, but probably they are "posing" for other tough men. When you talk to them they are usually polite and respectfull to everybody.
 
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2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
John Paul II wore technical hiking gear in the Tatras, but Benedict XVI wore his cassock in the Bavarian alps. You appear to have papal sanction for either choice. The cassock would be a very sensible garment on the Francese for the reasons described above (although a light wool fabric would be best) but your challenge would be the cow-poo- & apple-sodden mud of Galicia. It's as well that it's your second-best cassock....
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Year of past OR future Camino
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
... I guess I"m asking if it would be an unreasonable burden (I'm Catholic, so keep that in mind when you think "unreasonable". That's a high bar to reach). ...

I think it is a brilliant idea and have seen over the years many religious doing so, just don't forget a rain cover and Buen Camino, SY
 
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Sue M

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPdP-Burgos(2012)Leon-Santiago(2013)Sarria- Santiago(Sept 2013),Frances (coach,2013),Le Puy-Conques(May 2014), parish pilgrimage organised for June 2015.
Re rain gear, do be careful whe wearing a poncho-type garment. A few years ago a backpacking student (not on the Camino) fell off the side of a mountain and died. The investigation suggested that it was because she was wearing a poncho and was therefore umable to see where she was putting her feet.
 
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I'm planning on wearing shorts and a t-shirt under it. Those are probably the only things I'll really launder unless I have to. This cassock I haven't washed in, yes this is disgusting, almost a year. And I wear it around quite often. Keeping on some under clothes keeps the body gunk off if. Though, while walking I know that won't necessarily be the case, but I hope it can last the month. Heck, a bit of mud and dirt are badges if anything. Though, if I have to wash it, I know how.

As for the rain, I have a clerical cloak that's made more traveling, especially in the rain. And it fits over my pack. It's a canvas poncho, basically.

My only real worry is scaring people off, if I'm honest... I know some people may be put off by it, but that's something I'm used to. It's the life.

I have taken priests on my group trips, and more than scaring people off, I believe they found people always ALWAYS wanting to share their burdens when the priests were wearing priestly garments. Though a sweet thought, this can be very exhausting, considering the number of people on the route. Just something to consider. How many confessions do you want to hear in a day?
 

Montana Jayne

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
September 2015 - Camino Frances
? Camino Ingles
We saw 4 nuns in long habits last fall on the CF and they seemed to do fine. I just loved seeing them and thought it was cool that they were happy to be visible as religious. Buen camino!
 

PEI_Heather

Canadian Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2016 - Voie de la Nive
2012, 2016 - Frances
2013 - Portuguese
2012, 2013 - Finesterre & Muxia
So I'm going to be doing the Camino near the end of summer and had a bit of a thought/worry.

I'm a seminary student a few years out from ordination. The tradition where I'm from is the habit/cassock is worn very frequently. I've been wanting to do the Camino for many years and now that I have the opportunity, I have wanted to do at least part of it in my habit. The habit includes a cloak with hood for the rain made of treated canvas and the habit is made of lightweight wool. This would consist of my daily gear for clothing.

I've worn it on muddy roads, in the rain, etc. and it's never given me much trouble. Also, as I'm in the process of getting another habit, I've written off this cassock and won't be too upset if the Spanish mud and rain destroys it.

I've done a lot of hiking and camping and frankly I don't own many more garments, but I could grab a few pairs of shorts and shirts. I'm transitioning from one part of my life to the other and to bear my habit on a trek is to be a deeply religious expression and experience.

I guess I'm not asking if it will be easy to do so, I already know it'll be more difficult to do it this way than to simply wear some shorts and a t-shirt. I guess I"m asking if it would be an unreasonable burden (I'm Catholic, so keep that in mind when you think "unreasonable". That's a high bar to reach).

Thanks for the insights!
James

Hi Solomon,
You could walk your entire journey in your cassock, or you could walk the front part of it (the walk) in 'street clothes' and mail your cassock to, oh Sarria, and wear the cassock for the last 100+ km. Just another suggestion to give you the best of both worlds. I met a Catholic priest here (PEI, Canada) before I walked the Camino in 2012; he had walked it in 2004. He did so in shorts and shirts. Clothing does not the religious experience make--he was still talking eloquently about the spiritual nature of his walk seven years after he completed it!

Here's what a pilgrim looked like just in front of the Cathedral in Santiago...(He looked very comfortable!)

No matter what you chose to wear, it will be the right thing for you to wear. :)
 

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grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
Yes
I walked the Sanabres with a group of Spanish Priests from the Barcelona area.
They just wore regular pilgrim clothes. Most of the other people were aware who they were but they chose to simply blend in. They did assist and conduct Mass from time to time along the way.
So...you can pretty much do it any way that suits your personal feelings.
 
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Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Year of past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
The Camino Chaplaincy will be in full swing in August in Terradillos de los Templarios and Moratinos, out on the Meseta. Be sure to come and celebrate Mass with us in the evening at Terradillos! We see plenty of religious, with our without habits, at the services. We let anybody attend!
 

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