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Santiago - getting the Compostella

Rikke

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012
Porto - Santiago de Compostella 2019
Denmark - Santiago de Compostella (2021)
Hi all, did any of you experienced that the clerk at the office for getting the compostella denied to give it, even though all criteria’s are met? A danish guy had yesterday (maybe the day before) had a very bad experience with a clerk, who did not believe, that he had walked more than 50 k in one day, even though he had gps tracker, maps, and more as verification, so she stamped his credentials in a way, so that it didn’t even work to talk with another at the office - what can he do to get it changed?
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and beyond (from home; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
Hi all, did any of you experienced that the clerk at the office for getting the compostella denied to give it, even though all criteria’s are met? A danish guy had yesterday (maybe the day before) had a very bad experience with a clerk, who did not believe, that he had walked more than 50 k in one day, even though he had gps tracker, maps, and more as verification, so she stamped his credentials in a way, so that it didn’t even work to talk with another at the office - what can he do to get it changed?
Forum members @SioCamino and @mmmmartin worked very recently at the Pilgrims Office, maybe they can help?

I don't quite understand all of what you wrote. Are you saying that there are now stamps from the Pilgrims Office in the credential that mean that it is "closed" and no Compostela will be handed out after this "closure"?

It's an odd story but it seems it's not the first of this kind. Best of luck!
 

Rikke

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012
Porto - Santiago de Compostella 2019
Denmark - Santiago de Compostella (2021)
Forum members @SioCamino and @mmmmartin worked very recently at the Pilgrims Office, maybe they can help?

I don't quite understand all of what you wrote. Are you saying that there are now stamps from the Pilgrims Office in the credential that mean that it is "closed" and no Compostela will be handed out after this "closure"?

It's an odd story but it seems it's not the first of this kind. Best of luck!
I only have the story second hand, and its a bit difficult to describe exactly what was done, but somehow the clerk made the credential “closed”
 

Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
A danish guy had yesterday (maybe the day before) had a very bad experience with a clerk, who did not believe, that he had walked more than 50 k in one day, even though he had gps tracker, maps, and more as verification, so she stamped his credentials in a way, so that it didn’t even work to talk with another at the office - what can he do to get it changed?
It is not all that unusual for me to walk 40+km in one day if conditions are right. I have very occasionally walked more than 50km in a day. Personally I would not accept a Compostela which was only grudgingly offered after such an overt display of suspicion. I would consider it tainted by such behaviour. I have no intention of asking for one after any future Caminos.
 
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NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
There are two stamps put into the credential at the PO. One goes at the end of the row of stamps, that says you arrived. The second one goes on the front of the credential, next to your name, etc, which 'closes' that credential. (You do not want that second stamp until you claim your compostela, so if you plan to get that after returning from Finisterre, don't get the second stamp.)

People who walk more than 40 km per day in the final 100 km should get more than two stamps per day, to show progression. Some sources refer to getting two stamps per stage, not per day - and the assumption is that most walk 20-25 km per day (stage) which means getting 10 stamps, spread out every 10 kms or so from Sarria (or Tui or etc).

The pilgrim can politely ask for the supervisor and ask why they were denied, show their evidence. Even though he was denied and now his credential is closed, he could go back and seek clarification.
 

Rikke

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012
Porto - Santiago de Compostella 2019
Denmark - Santiago de Compostella (2021)
There are two stamps put into the credential at the PO. One goes at the end of the row of stamps, that says you arrived. The second one goes on the front of the credential, next to your name, etc, which 'closes' that credential. (You do not want that second stamp until you claim your compostela, so if you plan to get that after returning from Finisterre, don't get the second stamp.)

People who walk more than 40 km per day in the final 100 km should get more than two stamps per day, to show progression. Some sources refer to getting two stamps per stage, not per day - and the assumption is that most walk 20-25 km per day (stage) which means getting 10 stamps, spread out every 10 kms or so from Sarria (or Tui or etc).

The pilgrim can politely ask for the supervisor and ask why they were denied, show their evidence. Even though he was denied and now his credential is closed, he could go back and seek clarification.
He actually did ask for the supervisor, but she refused to get him 🙃
 

Rikke

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012
Porto - Santiago de Compostella 2019
Denmark - Santiago de Compostella (2021)
I just wrote him, what you wrote me, let see, what he ends up doing, I do hope he gets his Compostella, at least he walked from SJPDP
 

timr

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Several and counting...
It is not all that unusual for me to walk 40+km per day if conditions are right. I have very occasionally walked more than 50km in a day. Personally I would not accept a Compostela which was only grudgingly offered after such an overt display of suspicion. I would consider it tainted by such behaviour. I have no intention of asking for one after any future Caminos.
With a heavy heart, I have to say I agree with every word of this message.
 

mmmmartin

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santander-SdC bici '14
Plata bici '17
1/2 Plata bici '18
Frances a pie '18
(Porto a pie '19)
Forum members @SioCamino and @mmmmartin worked very recently at the Pilgrims Office, maybe they can help?

I don't quite understand all of what you wrote. Are you saying that there are now stamps from the Pilgrims Office in the credential that mean that it is "closed" and no Compostela will be handed out after this "closure"?
Once a compostela is issued, the credentia is stamped at the end and the start of the sellos, and that credentia cannot be used again to achieve a compostela. The credentia accepted as valid is stamped with the image of the saint: the credentia not accepted as valid for a compostela is stamped with an image of the cathedral to show the pilgrim has visited the cathedral, and the office is happy to issue a letter, in Latin, saying the pilgrim has visited the cathedral. This is popular with non religious people who have walked a Camino.
My thoughts are that the staff in the pilgrim office are wise in the ways of the world, and have seen just about everything.
It's possible someone walked 40k: I've issued compostelas to people who have. But if they are in their seventies, don't have enough stamps, and 40 kilos overweight, eyebrows will be raised. If they are in their twenties and as thin as a stick and have all the right stamps in the right order, that's different.
On balance, there's a reason the office behaved as they did. It's probably a good reason.
Finally: no, there is no way to change the decision. I suggest the pilgrim in question frames the credentia, hangs it on the wall, and stares at it longingly, dreaming of those halcyon days.
This is what I do.
 

timr

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Several and counting...
eyebrows will be raised
I have huge and unreserved admiration for all those who volunteer generously to work in the pilgrim office, as I do for those who volunteer to work in albergues along the way. And I make a point of thanking them when I meet them.

But I find myself unable to accept that it should be anyone's job, on behalf of the Cathedral authorities, to raise eyebrows at other pilgrims. And to judge them. My decision never to look for a compostela again brings me peace, but I continue to feel sad for those who would like a compostela and are denied a compostela.
Especially when
Finally: no, there is no way to change the decision.
Meanwhile I was happy to go to the Pilgrim Office last week for the morning Mass.
 

Rikke

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012
Porto - Santiago de Compostella 2019
Denmark - Santiago de Compostella (2021)
Once a compostela is issued, the credentia is stamped at the end and the start of the sellos, and that credentia cannot be used again to achieve a compostela. The credentia accepted as valid is stamped with the image of the saint: the credentia not accepted as valid for a compostela is stamped with an image of the cathedral to show the pilgrim has visited the cathedral, and the office is happy to issue a letter, in Latin, saying the pilgrim has visited the cathedral. This is popular with non religious people who have walked a Camino.
My thoughts are that the staff in the pilgrim office are wise in the ways of the world, and have seen just about everything.
It's possible someone walked 40k: I've issued compostelas to people who have. But if they are in their seventies, don't have enough stamps, and 40 kilos overweight, eyebrows will be raised. If they are in their twenties and as thin as a stick and have all the right stamps in the right order, that's different.
On balance, there's a reason the office behaved as they did. It's probably a good reason.
Finally: no, there is no way to change the decision. I suggest the pilgrim in question frames the credentia, hangs it on the wall, and stares at it longingly, dreaming of those halcyon days.
This is what I do.
Sad, he is about 40, and fit for fight - no matter what, he knows what he has accomplished, hope he will enjoy that and his credentials 🙏🏻
 

mmmmartin

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santander-SdC bici '14
Plata bici '17
1/2 Plata bici '18
Frances a pie '18
(Porto a pie '19)
But I find myself unable to accept that it should be anyone's job, on behalf of the Cathedral authorities, to raise eyebrows at other pilgrims. And to judge them.
Judging the credentia is what the pilgrim office staff do. If they didn't do that the status of the compostela would be worthless: merely a piece of paper issued on demand. Every day someone (out of 1,200 so not many) turned up with insufficient stamps - an example is a couple on the Portuguese who claimed to have walked 65k in one day. They were judged to be not allowed to have a compostela based on that credentia. What would you have done?
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
Judging the credentia is what the pilgrim office staff do. If they didn't do that the status of the compostela would be worthless: merely a piece of paper issued on demand. Every day someone (out of 1,200 so not many) turned up with insufficient stamps - an example is a couple on the Portuguese who claimed to have walked 65k in one day. They were judged to be not allowed to have a compostela based on that credentia. What would you have done?
From timr's other posts I think the answer to that last question is very clear: issued the Compostela. The worth of the Compostela does not come from scarcity. It comes from the recipient's memories of their Camino. It is unaffected by who else the Cathedral chooses to give Compostelas to.

For centuries Compostelas were just that, issued on demand to anyone who showed up at the Cathedral ins Santiago de Compostela. That included many decades after the introduction of motorized transit. Are you suggesting all of those Compostelas were worthless?
 

Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
For centuries Compostelas were just that, issued on demand to anyone who showed up at the Cathedral ins Santiago de Compostela. That included many decades after the introduction of motorized transit. Are you suggesting all of those Compostelas were worthless?
The Compostelas which I received after my first and second Caminos testified that I had visited the tomb of the Apostle but made no reference at all to walking or cycling any distance to get there. On my more recent visits to the pilgrim office my credencial has been very closely scrutinised to check that I had walked the minimum required distance but no one has bothered to ask me about my motives for walking or whether I had in fact visited the cathedral and the shrine of the Apostle - the very things which the Compostela explicitly certifies. If anything has devalued the Compostela in recent years I would argue that it has been primarily the pilgrim office's tacit endorsement of the idea that the Compostela is now essentially a completion certificate for a physical challenge rather than a commemoration of a spiritual visit to the shrine of the Apostle.
 

mmmmartin

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santander-SdC bici '14
Plata bici '17
1/2 Plata bici '18
Frances a pie '18
(Porto a pie '19)
They did indeed ask about your motives: on the form you filled you would have ticked one or more of the three boxes: motive - religious, spiritual or sport/tourism. If you ticked only the final box you may have been given the certificate of visiting the cathedral and your credentia stamped with the picture of the building, not the saint.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
Since the entire incident is heresay, I would not put too much in it and it is certainly not worthy of criticizing volunteers who work for free at the pilgrim's office handing out free sheets of paper. :rolleyes:
 
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timr

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Several and counting...
What would you have done?
From timr's other posts I think the answer to that last question is very clear: issued the Compostela. The
I am grateful for the openness of this discussion. I fear treading into religious discussion and offending the rules of this forum. But I think we are OK so far. ;)

@David Tallan is correct, I would issue the Compostela. Certainly for 'two people' out or '1,200 people' I would turn a blind eye. Deliberately.
Having said that it is fairly clear that if I were to offer myself to work in the Pilgrim Office on the 'front desk' I would not pass the interview. :oops:

I am happy to agree to differ on this, and feel there is more uniting us than dividing us.

I have just read again the Pastoral Letter of the French and Spanish Bishops with dioceses along the Camino, issued in 2017 which I think is simple and beautiful. I am sorry but I can only find it in French at the moment. It certainly exists in Spanish. I do not recall seeing an English version. It is welcoming and does not stray into the legalistic. It also, very near the beginning, suggests that the 'last stamp' could be given in one's home parish on return, which I liked.

The Bishops' letter cites a papal letter Misericordiae Vultus from 2015, here in English. It is not about the Camino, but about a recent Holy Year. Paragraph 14 in particular I found helpful. I hope by not directly quoting it here, I can avoid our straying into unmentionable topics.
 
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Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
They did indeed ask about your motives: on the form you filled you would have ticked one or more of the three boxes: motive - religious, spiritual or sport/tourism. If you ticked only the final box you may have been given the certificate of visiting the cathedral and your credentia stamped with the picture of the building, not the saint.
To me that seems like the thinnest of token gestures. So the present situation is that the pilgrim office will unhesitatingly accept a person's self-declaration - in the form of a single tick in a box - that they did indeed "with an attitude of devotion or because of a vow or promise make a pilgrimage to the Tomb of the Apostle, Our Patron Saint and Protector of Spain". But the pilgrim office insist on making a detailed examination of a pilgrim's credencial for evidence of their starting point and route AND will then closely question someone who appears to have walked an unusually long stage or who has failed to collect the requisite number of sellos in the final 100km. Why is that physical aspect of the pilgrimage of so much more importance than the religious or spiritual dimension which the Compostela is supposed to recognise and declare?
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
Hi all, did any of you experienced that the clerk at the office for getting the compostella denied to give it, even though all criteria’s are met? A danish guy had yesterday (maybe the day before) had a very bad experience with a clerk, who did not believe, that he had walked more than 50 k in one day, even though he had gps tracker, maps, and more as verification, so she stamped his credentials in a way, so that it didn’t even work to talk with another at the office - what can he do to get it changed?
I couldn't do it now, but I've walked up to 65K in a day ; actually most was 115K in two days, and back in the day, Sarria to Santiago could have taken me as little as a single weekend.

All I can suggest is to turn up not clean and presentable, but dusty and grimy and exhausted and be-blistered. But it might be too late to do that.

Then again, a proper formal letter of presentation from one's Catholic Parish Priest will always be helpful, and there's no reason why such home support could not be sought post hoc ...

But it's always worth remembering though -- obtaining a Compostela has never been a right ; it is a privilege and a Grace and a recognition not of the "hike", but from the Church for the accomplishment of the religious pilgrimage.

And if a volunteer at the Pilgrim Office concludes that the pilgrim has approached the Camino not as the Pilgrimage itself, but as a hike, then that volunteer is entirely within his or her canonical right to deny the provision of the Compostela to that person.

It remains true that unless a pilgrim is a Faithful and practising Catholic Christian in a sufficient State of Grace to receive Holy Eucharistic Communion after Confession at Santiago de Compostela or at some earlier or later existing or promissory point on his pilgrimage, plus some well-defined exceptions, the document can legitimately be denied to him.

---

Maybe ask the Bishop or the Vicar General for assistance, or the archpriest of the Cathedral or the head of the Archconfraternity ?
 
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SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
"Find a reason to GIVE the pilgrim a Compostela, not a reason to DENY them one." - Is a sentence that I heard a long term volunteer here in Santiago saying over and over again. None of us can see in the heart of a pilgrim and stamps in a credencial never tell the whole story ...

BC SY
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
"Find a reason to GIVE the pilgrim a Compostela, not a reason to DENY them one." - Is a sentence that I heard a long term volunteer here in Santiago saying over and over again. None of us can see in the heart of a pilgrim and stamps in a credencial never tell the whole story ...

BC SY
Despite the fact that I requested the "welcome" certificate rather than a Compostela, (and I did not check the religious or spiritual reasons box on the form) the volunteer who served me on my first Camino apparently found a reason to give me a Compostela. 😊
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and beyond (from home; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
Somewhat surprisingly, I didn’t even feel the need to get a stamp from the Pilgrims Office. So no Compostela, no distance certificate, nada for me. Although I like the stamps and my credencial, I had made it a policy to just get a stamp from my daily accommodation, and from churches only when there was a volunteer present who sort of insisted and I didn’t want to disappoint them (including a small donation of course).

The whole project of walking from home to Compostela felt accomplished when I entered the Cathedral. I felt no need for any kind of material recognition.

Try it. You are free from so many obligations and rules that you think you have to follow. 🙃
 

MikeJS

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francis (2011), Norte (12), VdlP (16). Sureste/Invierno (17). Olvidado/San Salvador/Primitivo (19)
I have experienced a similar reluctance as I mostly walk 40kms plus a day so they expressed ‘surprise’ at my timings! After some polite discussions all was resolved.
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
I walked more than 40kms a day twice on my 2017 trip. Maybe because they were before Leon, no-one cared to check. I never occurred to me that they could be considered suspect.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
It's possible someone walked 40k:
People who walk more than 40 km per day in the final 100 km should get more than two stamps per day, to show progression. Some sources refer to getting two stamps per stage, not per day - and the assumption is that most walk 20-25 km per day (stage) which means getting 10 stamps, spread out every 10 kms or so from Sarria (or Tui or etc).
LOTS of people walk more than 40k a day. I'm astonished that this would raise eyebrows. Among shorter-distance pilgrims, maybe not so much. But just because someone can walk serious distance in one day doesn't preclude them from being a pilgrim.
And there are no stated rules saying you have to walk in lockstep with the less fit majority. It's absurd.
Judging the credentia is what the pilgrim office staff do. If they didn't do that the status of the compostela would be worthless:
It already is, pretty much, thanks to people who think it's worth cheating to aquire one. It's the cheaters who perforce create an attitude of scrutiny in the PO, which is very sad because that means some people end up being falsely denied a compostella they fully deserve.
 

mmmmartin

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santander-SdC bici '14
Plata bici '17
1/2 Plata bici '18
Frances a pie '18
(Porto a pie '19)
some people end up being falsely denied a compostella they fully deserve.
I very much doubt they are *falsely* denied a compostela. Before that decision is made there's usually a fair bit of debate and conversation. One example of being denied a compostela was a couple who claimed to have walked 65k in one day on the Portuguese: they didn't argue and simply left the office.
 

MikeJS

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francis (2011), Norte (12), VdlP (16). Sureste/Invierno (17). Olvidado/San Salvador/Primitivo (19)
I very much doubt they are *falsely* denied a compostela. Before that decision is made there's usually a fair bit of debate and conversation. One example of being denied a compostela was a couple who claimed to have walked 65k in one day on the Portuguese: they didn't argue and simply left the office.
I was falsely denied a compostella. However, I decided to return to the office the next day and politely argue my case which was successful. Details are here.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Before that decision is made there's usually a fair bit of debate and conversation.
Fair enough, @mmmmartin - no doubt. But it does happen, as Mike just attested.
In addition to him, there are others, often people who go long distances. There was someone who posted here on the forum who had gone on foot from Oviedo to Santiago in one day. He documented his journey well but a certificate was denied, I can't remember why but guess because it was thought unbelievable, or not a 'pilgrimage' - it's 100K, after all. But to say that someone doing something "athletic" is not a pilgrim....really, can anyone else know?
 

mmmmartin

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santander-SdC bici '14
Plata bici '17
1/2 Plata bici '18
Frances a pie '18
(Porto a pie '19)
No one is denied a certificate: if they can't have a compostela they can have the certificate that says they have visited the cathedral, and their credentia is stamped. If they don't have the evidence of two stamps per day for the final 100 k they, by church rules, ought not to have a compostela but can easily have the certificate of visiting the cathedral. These are rules set by the church not the workers or volunteers in the office
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
To address the other side of the discussion: there are reasons for vigilance, I guess...this just popped up on another thread:
The lady I saw downstairs in the waiting area of the Compostela queue. She had a pile of credentials (~50), that she was annotating with dates alongside the stamps[...]
That has nothing in common with the OP's situation. But it shows what the PO has to desl with. If you're faced with cheating on a daily basis, you can begin to see cheaters everywhere. So don't take it personally if you are confronted with disbelief. Keep a cool head and a kind heart, and the outcome will be bd affected by that, in a good way.
 

mmmmartin

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santander-SdC bici '14
Plata bici '17
1/2 Plata bici '18
Frances a pie '18
(Porto a pie '19)
Nothing wrong with that. She was certainly a group leader, and the credentias had been handed to her by the group she'd led. The dates she was adding next to the stamps would be added to assist the office workers to assess the progress of the group. She'd then take the pile of credentias upstairs to the group office which is on the right after you enter the building, and leave then there to be processed. She'd be told to return the next day and pick up the compostelas for the members of her group. She was probably using that area downstairs because it's the only available place for her to do it. (If she was cheating she'd do it somewhere private.)
Processing groups in one go is done in the mornings by the pilgrim office staff, before the queues start to build. It's a way of dealing efficiently with large numbers of people who have all walked the same route at the same time. That's why there's an office especially for that purpose.
 

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