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The Camino does NOT start in StJpdP - discuss

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JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
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There is a belief that the name Somport is derived from Summus Pyreneus but it's not certain.
No, Somport is from Summus Portus -- Portus is Latin meaning "mountain pass". It really just means "the High Pass", perhaps in relationship to the easier, lower Valcarlos one.

The same word Portus is found in the Perthus (that's literally Portus on its own, and by FAR the easiest Roman road crossing into Iberia was there), Puigcerdà, Saint Jean Pied de Port (Saint John at the foot of the Pass), and a couple dozen or so other places on or near the top of the Pyrenees.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
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Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
No, Somport is from Summus Portus -- Portus is Latin meaning "mountain pass". It really just means "the High Pass", perhaps in relationship to the easier, lower Valcarlos one.

The same word Portus is found in the Perthus (that's literally Portus on its own, and by FAR the easiest Roman road crossing into Iberia was there), Puigcerdà, Saint Jean Pied de Port (Saint John at the foot of the Pass), and a couple dozen or so other places on or near the top of the Pyrenees.
Yes, you are right.

It is worth noting, however, that the trail of many sections of even major Roman roads has not been established with certainty everywhere and maybe it never will. Reasons are that there’s not enough money, not enough interest or not enough traces as not every road built or used by the Romans was built in the way we tend to know, ie several layers finishing with a cover of stones or slabs.

Nobody is in any doubt that the Somport pass and the passes near Roncesvalles were used by many pilgrims and other travellers in the 11th and 12th century and beyond. There’s also no doubt that numerous other passes, some of them nearby, were used but to a lesser extent. Local communities and camino associations are busy putting together documentation to prove this or have already done so. I’ve come across several local websites that document this.
 
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JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
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the summus pyreneus mentioned in antiquity
That just means "the top of the Pyrenees", and as far as the philology is concerned, "pyreneus" is rather unlikely to lead phonetically to the Catalan puig and the French port. Latin portus on the other hand ...

(and yeah, I have studied this sort of thing at Univ sorry)

But one would need to see the actual Latin reference(s) to see how "summus pyreneus" was used in context. It's not even necessarily a place name ...
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
Here's a good quote from the French Xacobeo website. You will find a map of the passes under this link, btw. Translated into English, it says: The crossing of the Pyrenees from the Aspe valley has been known since antiquity, and the study of Roman roads highlights the existence of a route [from French territory] to Zaragoza. The Augustinian monastery of Sireza of the year 833, well known before the monestary of Santa Cristina on the Somport pass (XI century) that would eventually radiate over the whole region, raises the question of the passage of the Pyrenees by pilgrims via the Pau pass (Col de Pau in French; Puerto de Palo in Spanish) towards the Aragonese plain of the Rio Aragón. The debate is still open, but the "tourist" requirements related to the possible frequentation by pilgrims led to the creation of the long distance trail GR 653.3 and to the definition of a "Roman road".

That's actually a good point. Touristic demand and expectations - and that includes the Camino pilgrims population - has led to the creation of marked contemporary trails but they must be clothed in some ancient garment it seems that has often little to nothing to do with known facts. The local administrations, the tourism boards, the camino associations, the local churches, they all happily and eagerly participate in this game and issue brochures and certificates and put up signs on walls that state for absolute fact what in reality stands on shaky historical feet or is pure fiction and speculation.

The first bishop to travel to Compostela from far away, the first king to ride his horse to Compostela, the battles about whether the Valcarlos road is older than the Napoleon route and which Pyrenees pass is the oldest - as if everyone is a scholar or a layperson with a great interest in medieval or Roman history who needs to put their feet exactly where some person that's been dead for a thousand years put theirs ... hello?
 
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Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
The first bishop to travel to Compostela, the first king that rode on his horse to Compostela, the battles about whether the Valcarlos road is older than the Napoleon route and which Pyrenees pass is the oldest - as if everyone is a scholar or a layperson with a great interest in medieval or Roman history who needs to put their feet exactly where some person that's been dead for a thousand feet put theirs ... hello?
And this demand for some sort of spurious 'antiquity' and 'authenticity' also surfaces in wider debates about contemporary pilgrimage. Raise the subject of luggage transport or mobile phones or whatever and someone is very likely to chip in with the observation that "they didn't do that it in the middle ages" as if modern pilgrims are somehow obliged to conform in all respects to the practices of some mythical paradigm of a long past century. Unfortunately no one seems able to specify precisely which medieval pilgrim I am honour-bound to impersonate: age? date? nationality? social status? lay or clerical? As I have argued above I believe that the Camino revival of the late 20th and early 21st centuries is essentially a modern invention or reinvention rather than an evolutionary continuation of medieval practice. Provided that is recognised there should be no need to justify the creation of new routes or practices by doubtful statements about their ancient provenance.
 

Kathar1na

Member
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Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
In practical terms, if anyone is interested in walking one day any of the passes mentioned, here are the details in altitude, rounded:

Ibañeta pass: 1060 m
Lepoeder pass ("Napoleon pass" ☺): 1430 m
Somport pass: 1630 m
Pau pass: 1940 m

Whether pilgrims - or traders and other travellers - used a pass or not, depended on a number of factors, such as whether it is free of snow and what infrastructure there is, such as accommodation or bridges on the approach to the pass and away from the pass, gains in travelling time etc.
 

The Kolbist

Member
Camino(s) past & future
past: Frances, inland Portuguese, Fatima
future: Del Norte, coastal Porugues, Englis
i may get some flack on this... but only the people who really knows the essence of why the medieval people walked the camino will realize that there is no traditional starting point per se... as cheesy as it is (but i believe there is some truth to it), The Camino starts the moment you stepped out of your doorstep..
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
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as if everyone is a scholar or a layperson with a great interest in medieval or Roman history who needs to put their feet exactly where some person that's been dead for a thousand years put theirs ... hello?
What in the world is wrong with that?
I'm not a historian, or a scholar. Nor do I care about the obvious mythologizing of long ago events (or imagined events). But I grew up loving history and human stories. And I can tell you as someone from a place where the mid-nineteenth century counts as old...it is a wonderful and hugely meaningful part of my caminos to walk where Roland went, or on a road that carried Roman legions, or to walk through vineyards whose steep terraces were first built 2000 years ago.
So, yes. Hello. ;)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) Portugues(2013)
San Salvador (2017) Ingles (2019)
Members will be aware that I am neither a contrarian nor a provocateur but that I do like, now and again, to ask questions a little beyond which is the best bar to discuss the best sleeping bag in.

So, as I viewed a thread started by a new member who is flying into Madrid and probably training it to Pamplona asking how to get from there to a small provincial French town in the western foothills of the Pyrenees, I wondered, again, why do people think that the Camino starts in St Jean pied de Porte?

Our new member could start walking to the shrine of Santiago from Pamplona, as many do. They could, if they were determined to travel away from Santiago before walking to Santiago, have made their way to historic Roncesvalles. They could, if they wanted to, head for Somport or Irun or even Barcelona but everyone wants to get to StJpdP and then leave it the following morning via a potentially crippling walk up and over a thumping great hill for no other reason that I can discern than "that its there" (Mallory, I forgive you) or because that is where their guide book starts.

With all due respects to @Monasp and the good folk of the Bureau des pèlerins de Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. Why?
Now that @Tincatinker is off on his travels, and all the rest of ye who have been good enough to pay attention to his question have given time and offered serious or less so responses, I found the following link, and offer it here, whatever it may or may not add to the topic. I will read it properly later, as I have some work to prepare for tomorrow.
EDIT: this will take me some time, it is long! However, I will enjoy it in snatches. There is interesting information for people like me - are there any?! - who know little that is fact about the origins of ‘The Camino’.

EDIT: I finally finished it. I always like to finish what I start to read, and yes, there are sections that are harder to pay attention to, but all in all there is something to learn in any person’s experience so I am glad to have come across it.
 
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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
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Thank you @kirkie. By the time Tinca returns we might be beginning to digest that.
" I think you have an interest that goes beyond "Napoleon [sic] was there and so was I"
Haha. Yes, you'd be right there.
And just to say, @Kathar1na , how much I appreciate the depth that you bring to any discussion here that has anything to do with history - it's a gift, gratefully received. Thank you!
 

Suzanne S.

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2015) Camino Frances/Muxia/Fisterre (2017) Caminho Portuguese/Fisterre
(2019) Camino del Norte
Three words.
Coelho
MacLaine
Hollywood

Well, make that four.
Ignorance.

Many of us start out thinking that what we heard or read was true: that the camino means the Frances, and that the 'complete,' or 'whole' camino Frances starts in SJPP. Period.

Never mind the rich history of countless folk starting from their front steps, wherever those happened to be. The many other routes and possible starting points don't much factor in to our impoverished modern reckoning because we're so brainwashed to think otherwise.

Edit - So @davebugg, you just posted at the same time and proved my cynical reasoning wrong. 🤣
And maybe Brierley?
 

Kathar1na

Member
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Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
anything to do with history
I'm actually anything but a history buff ☺. I always had a bit of a soft spot for things Roman, not all of it, far from it, and for the, to me very appealing, visual beauty of the masterpieces of Gothic architecture and it was only somewhere on the long way to Santiago that I caught the bug of wanting to know more about what these people of the 11th+ century thought. It continues to fascinate me to this day and I am eager to learn more when the occasion arises.

I just happened to come across Barbara Tuchman's A distant mirror, 680 page of small print on the calamitous 14th century. The book is not even mine but I know that I read it and it was compelling reading. I barely remember a thing of what I read. I decided to look up the index. No Saint James, no Santiago, but an entry for pilgrimage. The paragraph starts with the sentence The sense of sin induced by the plague found surcease in the plenary indulgence offered by the Jubilee Year of 1350 to all who in that year made the pilgrimage to Rome and later The Church emerged from the plague richer if not more unpopular. When sudden death threatened everyone with the prospect of being carried off in a state of sin, the result was a flood of bequests to religious institutions. Then I remembered, oh yes, sickness and illness were seen as a result of sins, and there was the tremendous fear of what would happen to oneself in the afterlife. Do we walk in the footstep of these people? I think less and less that this is the case.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
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@Bradypus Thanks! This brings me back to a question I have raised before. And again I hope Tom @t2andreo may help. My question is this. Is the route from Lugo through Friol to Sobrado dos Monxes, linking the Primitivo to the Norte, "official"? And is it "recognised by the SAMI"?
I walked this route in May 2016. In the Tourist Office in Lugo, where I went to look for advice, I was told rudely - quite rudely actually - and definitively, the it was "not permitted" to do this, ie to deviate from one route on to another. I paid no heed to this gentleman and took myself off on the "Camino Verde" for the next two days, possibly my two favourite Camino days ever. And I did obtain a Compostela on that occasion.
But my question remains, if there is a requirement that one walks on a route that is recognised by the SAMI is there a list of such routes?
I find it extraordinary that one has to walk on a particular path. I am horrified by the notion that the pilgrim office might demand evidence of the actual path I have followed, while I can accept that there is a rule about 100km and about two sellos.
The Greenway detour IS ACCEPTED as a valid alternative to adding to the congestion on the lower / final reaches of the Camino Frances. If you follow the traditional Primitivo, you join the Frances at Melide. This detour cuts up to three days from that. But you cover the same territory, albeit in parallel. Also, it does not skirt the 100 km rule.

The greenway bypass is not an actual Camino route of its own, but merely an accepted alternative routing. In this context, it is similar in concept to the Spiritual Variant of the Camino Portuguese (sort of), or the Camino Sanabres, that links the end of the Via de la Plata to Santiago. There are many other short links or pathways that join one established Camino Route to another established route.

As long as your credencial documents a continuous line of march along an uninterrupted path from a valid starting point to the Cathedral / Santiago, you should be okay.

This is one reason for a minimum of two sellos daily especially in the final 100 km. The more creative pilgrims get to avoid crowding on the Frances, the more data points you need to get your actual route approved.

I suspect the hesitancy to accept some "higgly piggly" routings comes from the fact that outlying villages and towns, not normally frequented by pilgrims, might not be in the computer database for standard distances. In these cases, staff must fire up Google Maps to discern, place by place, whether you indeed followed a more or less accepted route. This means more work and more time needed to determine if your Camino was a valid one. The simpler your routing is, the easier it is for the staff to 'bless' your routing as acceptable and recognized.

My advice if challenged, especially if you are being interviewed by a volunteer, is to ask for a senior staff member to speak to. They will have been there and seen that before, likely many times.

The other analog, that has become an entirely established and accepted route (since 2016) is the Camino de Invierno. This route parallels the Camino Frances from Ponferrada all the way into Santiago. But it actually makes use of the Sanabres for the final stretch into Santiago. Though some 40 km longer than continuing on the Frances from Ponferrada, it is nonetheless valid. It is also absolutely beautiful. Most importantly, it is virtually undiscovered by the hoards...

Using the basically parallel Greenway route from Lugo over to the end of the Norte at Sobrado dos Monxes, you rejoin the Frances either at Arzua or Lavacolla (my choice). If you do this, you cut from two to three days off the time you would otherwise be contributing to the overcrowding on the final stretch of the Frances.

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)
Has anyone here ever walked any of these? This is a map from the Sobrarbe Tourist board, showing lesser known Pyrenees passes walked by pilgrims to Santiago and based on historical records. This is south of Lourdes and east of Somport. Note the altitude of the three passes shown on the map: 2400 m.

Sobrarbe.jpg
 

Kathar1na

Member
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Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
You are right. I got a little confused there yesterday. It was late (lame excuse). ☺
@JabbaPapa, I went back and corrected my earlier message and it now reads as follows: The lines on this map are often only an approximation. You may have noted that both the Somport pass and the Roncesvalles pass are called Summus Pyreneus on this interactive map. There is no unanimity about where exactly the Summus Pyreneus of the ancient Roman road was that connected Astorga and Bordeaux and went through Pamplona and Roncesvalles (Iter XXXIV in the Antonine Itinerary).
 
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Beeks

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2019) only 2 weeks available! St. Jean PDP - Pamplona, then Sarria - SDC with the family,
Not sure about this Saint Jean place, but I had always assumed Jesus started in Sarria.

Until I saw this.

Huh. :D Screenshot_20190916-134825_Gallery.jpg
 

Kathar1na

Member
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Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
But one would need to see the actual Latin reference(s) to see how "summus pyreneus" was used in context. It's not even necessarily a place name ...
The net knows everything and, yes, summus pyreneus is not a place name. In the case of the Roman road number 34 that connected Pamplona with Dax it is not clear where s.p. is because the distances given in the original document generate dispute among experts.

Our book knowledge about Route 34 is based on the Antonine Itinerary, a comprehensive register of locations and distances of major Roman roads, probably prepared at the beginning of the 3rd century. I found a copy in an old book, showing the stations Pamplona, Iturissa, Summus Pyrenaeus, Imus Pyrenaeus, and Aquae Tarbellicae (today's French town of Dax).

Imus Pyrenaeus is likely to be today's Saint-Jean-le-Vieux just before SJPP where you can still see traces of a Roman camp. A small museum is dedicated to it but my feet were too tired for even the tiniest detour.

Iturissa is located near Espinal and on the right of today's Camino trail. Excavations there are ongoing and they also did digs and other surveys in the area very recently. General spoiler alert: the ancient Roman road 34 is not exactly where you may think it was and you are not walking on it.

Iturissa.jpg
 
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hel&scott

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
Has anyone here ever walked any of these? This is a map from the Sobrarbe Tourist board, showing lesser known Pyrenees passes walked by pilgrims to Santiago and based on historical records. This is south of Lourdes and east of Somport. Note the altitude of the three passes shown on the map: 2400 m.

View attachment 64786
Loving your map, and contributions on star gazing. It's worth pointing out that throughout the ages people have navigated by the stars, follow the Southern Cross and your will end up on my shakey isle where I gaze at the Milky Way and a very large yellow squashed moon tonight, fascinating to think that right now on the other side of the globe some poor sods are marching their way to Santiago.

Is @Tincatinker back from his piddle yet?
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
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General spoiler alert: the ancient Roman road 34 is not exactly where you may think it was and you are not walking on it.
Colour me completely and totally unsurprised ...

The Aurelia (AKA the Camino here to both Rome and Santiago) passes by just a few 100 meters above where I live, or a couple K walking -- but even in its very narrow tiny, tiny pathway nowadays, it's still usually about 20 to 50 metres away from the original Roman route in most places.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
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This thread continues to astonish and delight.
Barbara Tuchman's A distant mirror,
That was a wonderful book. That and Montaillou have been windows for me into a distant and ultimately unknowable reality. I share your fascination, @Kathar1na.
Do we walk in the footstep of these people? I think less and less that this is the case.
I think you're right. We think we are, but no doubt that's mostly projection. Our own worldview ha its own distortions, which offer a very different set of rationales for walking than theirs. Wanting to be fit and youthful as long as possible, and wanting to gather as many experiences as we can in the service of trying to establish lasting happiness here and now are two that spring to mind...
Has anyone here ever walked any of these?
No, but that's a fascinating map.
it's still usually about 20 to 50 metres away from the original Roman route in most places
It fascinates me how when roman roads are not well buried under the nearest 6-lane major artery (which makes total sense)...they can be completely forgotten not far away going through someone's field.
The Via de Bayona follows a Roman route from the coast into Alava and on to Burgos - sometimes parallel to the railway and/or motorway - and on the last stange into Burgos, there was a long-ish stretch where the camino was on a dirt road running right next to the old (and still extant) pavement. It was quite impressive, much more so than the Brierley-touted section on the Frances after Calzadilla, which is shorter and fenced off. There is a longish walk developed around this area with interpretive signage, which would make a nice diversion for anyone with interest and time on their hands in Burgos (thee mile marker in the photo is obviously a replica).
So close to the Frances but a world away.
 

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Chizuru

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2018)
I thought that it was the starting point of the Camino Frances as the roads leading back from StJPdeP are part of other routes such as the Podiensis, Francigena, Vezelay, etc and it encompasses the whole of the Spanish path if you start from there. If you start from Ronscevalle or Pamplona, you have missed a bit of Spain.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
I thought that it was the starting point of the Camino Frances as the roads leading back from StJPdeP are part of other routes such as the Podiensis, Francigena, Vezelay, etc and it encompasses the whole of the Spanish path if you start from there. If you start from Ronscevalle or Pamplona, you have missed a bit of Spain.
Certainly many people see SJPP that way and like to distinguish the CF after it from the three routes that converge in that area: from Paris, from Vezelay, and from Le Puy. But actually, these three routes don't converge in SJPP. If you consider the Frances proper starting at the convergence of those three routes, then to do "the whole Camino Frances" you'll want to take a taxi or a bus about 20 km further away from Santiago to Ostabat and start there. There is a gite you can stay at before setting off in the morning. Most people don't bother, though, and start at SJPP which is more convenient to get to and has more accommodations, restaurants and shops, not to mention being where their guidebooks start and where their friends started or the people in the movies they watched or the books they read.
 

t2andreo

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I rather suspect that, over time, most pilgrims just found it more convenient to rest up, reprovision, equip themselves and launch from SJPdP. Practice, becomes a pattern, becomes a habit after a while...

The other Pyrenees passes are some 700 - 800 meters ASL (above sea level) HIGHER than the Napoleon / Valcarlos & Somport routes. This necessarily means more snow for longer periods of time.

The historical records MIGHT bear this conjecture out. There may also have been problems with banditry on alternative routes. It was a big problems in the early years....

I remain curious...
 

Kathar1na

Member
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Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
When I learnt Latin so many many years ago, I never imagined that it would really come in handy one day on an Internet forum with a world-wide membership. I just opened P. Fita's edition of the 12th century so called Pilgrim's Guide which in this wonderful day and age is available to everyone with a computer and an internet provider and from which all camino guidebook authors quote. Well, they quote from a book that quotes from another book which quotes from another book ...

So it looks like Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port doesn't get a mention in the spiritual mother and father of all Camino guidebooks. Both in Chapter II and Chapter III the author describes the road through the ports of Cize. The ports of Cize are the mountain passes in the vicinity of SJPP. The author never specifies any names for these passes. According to him, the major towns on this road are: villa sancti Michaelis (Saint-Michel; it's near SJPP), then hospitale Rotolandi (Roland's hospital/albergue), then villa Runcievallis (Burguete - yes that's Burguete and not Roncesvalles), then Biscarellus (Viscarret), Resogna (Larrasoaña) and urbs Pampilonia (the town of Pamplona).

The name Camino Frances hadn't been invented yet, it's a road to Saint James in Galicia but even for this 12th century author and his audience there's a road that starts just before the Pyrenees and it starts in Saint-Michel at the foot of the mountains.

Have we come full circle? 😇
 
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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
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Well, they quote from a book that quotes from another book which quotes from another book ...
🤣
Have we come full circle
More than once, I'd say. We're meandering around looking for yellow arrows and of course those old books don't ever mention them.
Hmmmm. I wonder why? 🙃;)
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
🤣
More than once, I'd say. We're meandering around looking for yellow arrows and of course those old books don't ever mention them.
Hmmmm. I wonder why? 🙃;)
All roads lead to Santiago, they didn't need arrows. We are far less capable than our ancestors.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
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All roads lead to Santiago, they didn't need arrows. We are far less capable than our ancestors.
I was making a joke, and invoking a metaphor. 🙏 🙃
Looking for identical routes is like looking for mention of yellow arrows in the Codex.
 

Kathar1na

Member
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Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
We're meandering around looking for yellow arrows and of course those old books don't ever mention them.
There were guides! Guides as in guide person, not guide book. I vaguely remember from a Luther biography that he and the other monk who travelled with him to Rome hired a guide for crossing the Alps.

I was really surprised when I read a quote from someone who wrote a History of Roncesvalles and was canónigo and hospitalero there (he died in 1679) that "there are others who serve as guides for the groups of pilgrims who go to Santiago, and those whom they guide pay them a salary ... and one of these guides told me that he had been 28 times to Santiago and that the people who he had guided were 'grandes católicos' and made their pilgrimage with great devotion." The (modern) author of a study where I found this goes on to say that there is no doubt that there were guides but we know nothing about them.
 

VNwalking

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The (modern) author of a study where I found this goes on to say that there is no doubt that there were guides but we know nothing about them.
Oh, interesting.
(And I bet a lot of people are thinking, "Sign me up!"
If that's you, it'd be a good idea to have a quiet word with @Anniesantiago before you think much further... ;) )
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
There were guides! Guides as in guide person, not guide book. I vaguely remember from a Luther biography that he and the other monk who travelled with him to Rome hired a guide for crossing the Alps.

I was really surprised when I read a quote from someone who wrote a History of Roncesvalles and was canónigo and hospitalero there (he died in 1679) that "there are others who serve as guides for the groups of pilgrims who go to Santiago, and those whom they guide pay them a salary ... and one of these guides told me that he had been 28 times to Santiago and that the people who he had guided were 'grandes católicos' and made their pilgrimage with great devotion." The (modern) author of a study where I found this goes on to say that there is no doubt that there were guides but we know nothing about them.
Aah, but did those guides arrange for lodgings and baggage transport? Maybe the ones who use these services are the most authentic to the medieval experience of all of us. ;-)
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
See signature
Members will be aware that I am neither a contrarian nor a provocateur but that I do like, now and again, to ask questions a little beyond which is the best bar to discuss the best sleeping bag in.

So, as I viewed a thread started by a new member who is flying into Madrid and probably training it to Pamplona asking how to get from there to a small provincial French town in the western foothills of the Pyrenees, I wondered, again, why do people think that the Camino starts in St Jean pied de Porte?

Our new member could start walking to the shrine of Santiago from Pamplona, as many do. They could, if they were determined to travel away from Santiago before walking to Santiago, have made their way to historic Roncesvalles. They could, if they wanted to, head for Somport or Irun or even Barcelona but everyone wants to get to StJpdP and then leave it the following morning via a potentially crippling walk up and over a thumping great hill for no other reason that I can discern than "that its there" (Mallory, I forgive you) or because that is where their guide book starts.

With all due respects to @Monasp and the good folk of the Bureau des pèlerins de Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. Why?
Easy. If you’re French, you start from France , ie usually Saint Jean pied de port . If you’re Spanish, you start from...Spain!
If you have flown from far away parts of the world, you start where.... you feel like it!
😀😉
 

Darby67

Enólogo caminando
Camino(s) past & future
2018 CF Jan-Feb
2019 CF Jan-Mar

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
Easy. If you’re French, you start from France , ie usually Saint Jean pied de port . If you’re Spanish, you start from...Spain!
Many Spaniards seem to start in Roncesvalles -- but as for the French, apart from a strong tendency to start at Le Puy (including when they actually live bang on top of the Camino !!), they tend to go for the other major gathering points to start from, such as Arles or Vézelay ; it's not really a French "thing" to start at SJPP -- though quite a few do a stage 1 Le Puy to SJPP, then a stage 2 SJPP to Compostela (or even more stages than that).

But the typical French POV is that the Camino "starts" at Le Puy.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
If you are in a rowboat that you propel yourself, is the minimum distance 200 km? What about a sailboat without a motor?
For a sailboat, the requirement is about 200 km: about 185 km by boat and the last few km on foot. Don’t you guys read what‘s written in your credenciales 😊? It is spelled out in the more recent editions issued by the Santiago Cathedral.
 

Esauro57

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
St.Jean Pied du Port - Santiago 23-29/7/2010 23-30/7/2014
Porto-Santiago&MuxiaFinestere2018
Do you know which National Geographic issue this was? I have all the issues between 1957 and 1991 and would like to look it up!
There is an article on the National Geographic BOOK "The age of Chivalry " 1969 pgs 172-198 "Pilgrimage to Compostella" (lib congress catalog card #79-79765) guess you are referring to this...
 

Houlet

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2014
Via de la Plata 2015
Camino Sanabres 2015
Camino Norde 2017
IMHO The camino starts wherever and whenever you leave home to start a camino. So I suppose in my case on my front doorstep.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
IMHO The camino starts wherever and whenever you leave home to start a camino. So I suppose in my case on my front doorstep.
There is of course the question of where does the camino on foot generally start ... what's the general idea that people have, not an individual choice or out of any historical necessity. I have no idea, no "feeling", how many people, throughout all these centuries, walked on foot and how many did part or all by other means. My guess is, however, that if we sum up all the Saint James pilgrims of all times, those on foot only - and without assisted luggage transport to boot - are in the minority.
 

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)
There is an article on the National Geographic BOOK "The age of Chivalry " 1969 pgs 172-198 "Pilgrimage to Compostella" (lib congress catalog card #79-79765) guess you are referring to this...
Love this. That book's how I learned of the camino - it was a Christmas present. There was a photo of someone embracing the statue in the cathedral and it caught my attention. Who'd have known?
 

jdpiguet

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past? Not enough.
Future? Sure!
The Camino begins in your heart 🙃
Yes, it begins in your heart.
And my heart was already twice in Vézelay: I started from the Basilique with the raising sun warming my back, looking to the West over the forests of the Morvan, like a seaman looking at the sea. My harbor was in Santiago and I reached it after many km, encounters, lough and cries.
I don't know if and when the time will come again, but my heart is still seeking, my feet still aching and I am looking to the West.
Buen Camino to all,
Jacques-D.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2019
This so reminds me of a satirical (fake) examination. One of the questions was:

“On your desk is a red button. Start WW3. Comment on the socio-politico consequences, if any. “

Caution - satirical response from Leon, in rain. Do not ascribe any meaning to this post.
 

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)
Ibañeta pass: 1060 m
Lepoeder pass ("Napoleon pass" ☺): 1430 m
Somport pass: 1630 m
Pau pass: 1940 m
BTW (only picking up on this now), there is also the Puerto de Belate on the Baztanes, which rings in at only 919 m
 

Esauro57

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
St.Jean Pied du Port - Santiago 23-29/7/2010 23-30/7/2014
Porto-Santiago&MuxiaFinestere2018
Three words.
Coelho
MacLaine
Hollywood

Well, make that four.
Ignorance.

Many of us start out thinking that what we heard or read was true: that the camino means the Frances, and that the 'complete,' or 'whole' camino Frances starts in SJPP. Period.

Never mind the rich history of countless folk starting from their front steps, wherever those happened to be. The many other routes and possible starting points don't much factor in to our impoverished modern reckoning because we're so brainwashed to think otherwise.

Edit - So @davebugg, you just posted at the same time and proved my cynical reasoning wrong. 🤣
I did my first cammino in 2010 and started in SJPDP getting there from my home town by train because of time I "Only" had a month to reach Santiago on the 25 July Holy year ...Yes, I am a Catholic... and for me a Pilgrimage is spiritual by definition.

I love the Historical and the folklore of the camino and even if a lot has changed from when in the year 819-829 Teodmiro archbishop of Favia Iria (Central Camino Portuguese) declared that the remains of St. Jago were re-discovered and so the first Pilgrimage (camino Primitivo) by the Asturian King Alfonso II “el Casto” was made. I am grateful to God through the protection of St.Jago that i was able to walk four times on the path trodden by millions of pilgrims before me …they had seen those same roman bridges places rivers and later Churches and Cathedrals before me (… and most incredible ! …without all having all our tech stuff, no cell phone no wi-fi…no GPS …even no Yellow Arrows! ...no booking.com… no advance booking of all the stages, trains cars buses taxis to carry your mochila for you …no Gore-Tex ;-).

If they were in luck maybe they could have consulted a high cleric who, knowing how to read Latin, had, maybe, had read the first “guide book” the 5° book written traditionally by a French Benedictine monk called Aymeric Picaud (who had made the Pilgrimage on horseback):- in the “Liber Sancti Jacobi” also called the Codex Callixtinus (c.1140 ) so called because it was made under the rule of the Pope Callisto II , Picaud gave indications on major towns and rivers to pass the miracles made along the way by Sant jago and the dangerous places to avoid along the way to Santiago. In this first guide Picaud recalls the 4 main roads for the pilgrimage from France the Turonense,Lemoviense,Podense, and Tolesana uniting in 3 in Ostabat one of the three with is the one passing the Pireneis mountains from San Michel-Pied-de-Port using the pass of Giza now known as Uharte-Garanzi to get to Roncisvalle . So you see all all this is Historically all way before
Coelho
MacLaine
Hollywood...
films ... or present day opinions ;-) . Pilgrimage starts from you home...but time and money is the culprit 😉 Ultreja and Suseja fellow pilgrims 😉
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
This thread continues to cause me make discoveries 😇. I've come across the name of Matthew Paris before but know little about him. Look what just popped up in Google Search for me, his map of the pilgrim route to Jerusalem, from around the year 1250:

c.1250 map.jpg
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
The British Library digitised the 13th century map of the itinerary London to Jerusalem (via Rome). You can access it here; just forward a few times to the right, it starts on folio f.2r. On map no. 4, I can easily make out the words Lombardy for the North Italian region and Cremona and Parma for the two Italian cities north of Rome. If anyone has a source for a ready-made list of all the stages mentioned, I'd appreciate it.

The itinerary starts with London on the bottom left of the first page. You can see the English Channel after Dover and later some pretty wavy waters ... or are these the mountains? In any case, just delightful.

Perry London to Rome.jpg
 
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JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
BTW (only picking up on this now), there is also the Puerto de Belate on the Baztanes, which rings in at only 919 m
The Perthus Pass is at about 250 M altitude ...

It's slightly lower altitude than where I live, and I get down to near sea level on a daily basis for my shopping.

Before my handicap rubbish, I'd walk down then back up nearly every day ...
 

MarkyD

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 31/08/2018 - 20/10/2018
Members will be aware that I am neither a contrarian nor a provocateur but that I do like, now and again, to ask questions a little beyond which is the best bar to discuss the best sleeping bag in.

So, as I viewed a thread started by a new member who is flying into Madrid and probably training it to Pamplona asking how to get from there to a small provincial French town in the western foothills of the Pyrenees, I wondered, again, why do people think that the Camino starts in St Jean pied de Porte?

Our new member could start walking to the shrine of Santiago from Pamplona, as many do. They could, if they were determined to travel away from Santiago before walking to Santiago, have made their way to historic Roncesvalles. They could, if they wanted to, head for Somport or Irun or even Barcelona but everyone wants to get to StJpdP and then leave it the following morning via a potentially crippling walk up and over a thumping great hill for no other reason that I can discern than "that its there" (Mallory, I forgive you) or because that is where their guide book starts.

With all due respects to @Monasp and the good folk of the Bureau des pèlerins de Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. Why?
Personally, I was undecided where to start, possibly Irún or SJPP or Roncesvalles. I picked up my credential in Irún but went to SJPP to sleep on it. The next day in SJPP I got the sign I was waiting for, and so the following morning I set off from SJPP and never doubted it. The small town just seemed so full of the Camino "magic" that it seemed the right starting point for me. My first shedding of tears started in SJPP and was the beginning of an absolute open-heart journey I'll never forget. I believe the climb over the Pyrenees had something to do with the process. The sudden challenge of it, the majestic views, the brave souls taking it on despite their advancing age or health issues, the animals that roamed those hills that had seen it all before; perhaps it was these kind of things that did it for me. Anyway, that was my first one and I'm glad I started there. But I think the place where it all starts is in your heart and soul, when you commit to doing it, and after that begins the journey that perhaps for many here will never stop.
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
The British Library digitised the 13th century map of the itinerary London to Jerusalem (via Rome). View attachment 65026
The wonderful Peter Robins illustrated this 13th century map on a map we find easier to read (click on link or see below). Note that this London to Rome pilgrim path crosses the Alps on the Mount Cenis pass and not on the San Bernadino pass.

Peter Robins map.jpg
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
The wonderful Peter Robins illustrated this 13th century map on a map we find easier to read (click on link or see below). Note that this London to Rome pilgrim path crosses the Alps on the Mount Cenis pass and not on the San Bernadino pass.
The Mont Cenis pass is one of the possible candidates for the route which Hannibal is supposed to have taken across the Alps with his army and his elephants during the Second Punic War. A very long history there! And the site of a bizarre British expedition in 1959 :cool:

 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
Peter Robins had maintained a fantastic interactive database on contemporary pilgrims ways which, however, has moved to a different website. It was my "go to" place when I sketched my way to Santiago. I see that his website is now "severely smaller than before" but he will still "maintain the [medieval] pilgrim itineraries pages". These are a good resource if you are interested and don't know the website yet.

Below is how he illustrates the ways to Santiago as described in the Codex Calixtinus. Contrary to what many believe about the "four ways leading to Santiago", the 12th century author mainly describes two ways and you can see on the map which ones they are. The blue dots are the places that get a mention in the CC. 🙃

Peter Robins map.jpg
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
I came across some intriguing statistics about the contemporary Camino. They are from 1987. The data were collected in Roncesvalles and in Santiago.

In 1987, about 1500 pilgrims were recorded in Roncesvalles as staying or getting a pilgrim passport, and about 3000 collected a Compostela in Santiago; only about half of those had arrived on foot. Did they give Compostelas to pilgrims who arrived by car in those days? Today, the figures are 60,000 for Roncesvalles and 330,000 for Santiago.

Italians and Americans, now a major contingent, were practically absent. I bet that English wasn't a lingua franca then. Peak season in Roncesvalles was July, unlike today with peaks in May and September. Pilgrims were overwhelmingly Catholic.

Around 2% were older than 65 - today it's well over 15%. The main motive was religious (85%), only a small minority of 6% had a "spiritual" motive. Students made up a clear majority - no longer the case now. How things have changed in only 30 years!

Statistics 1988.jpg
 
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Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
How things have changed in only 30 years!
Thanks for those figures @Kathar1na . I'm intrigued - where did you find them? My own first Camino was slightly later in 1990 but the main points of difference from today that you mention were still pretty obvious then. One thing that does strike me is that in the three years between 1987 and 1990 the number of Compostelas issued rose from around 3,000 to just under 5,000. A significant increase at the time but a number which can now be equalled in just two days in peak periods.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
I'm intrigued - where did you find them?
It popped up in Google while I was searching for something else. It's in Bulletin Ultreïa number 2, issued by the Swiss Amis de Saint Jacques association, p. 26-27. It was originally published in the Pelgrim, issued by the Flemish association who by that time were already on their 13th issue. 😊

Link: https://www.viajacobi4.ch/Archives/Ultreia.htm
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
Does this guy have anything to do with the surge in numbers around those dates???
Difficult to say what effect the papal visits had long-term but the additional numbers receiving Compostelas in those particular years were trivial by today's standards. Less than the number receiving a Compostela on a single busy summer day this year. This table of annual numbers since 1970 comes from the Spanish language version of Wikipedia.
table.jpg
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
I came across some intriguing statistics about the contemporary Camino. They are from 1987. The data were collected in Roncesvalles and in Santiago.

In 1987, about 1500 pilgrims were recorded in Roncesvalles as staying or getting a pilgrim passport, and about 3000 collected a Compostela in Santiago; only about half of those had arrived on foot. Did they give Compostelas to pilgrims who arrived by car in those days?
It was one of the last years when they were still doing so, yes -- and by plane, train, and bus too.

But I seem to recall, but don't sue me if I'm wrong, that you still needed at least to do the short walking tour from Monte do Gozo to the Cathedral with a Catholic pilgrim's intentions -- as they are still, I believe, organised to this day for non-foot non-bike non-horse non-marine non-wheelchair pilgrims not doing at least 100/200 K as the case may be ; except with no Compostela at the end of it.
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(10,11,17), Vasco(12), Salvador(13), CP(13), CN(14), Madrid (16), Mozarabe (18), VdlP(19)
Members will be aware that I am neither a contrarian nor a provocateur but that I do like, now and again, to ask questions a little beyond which is the best bar to discuss the best sleeping bag in.

So, as I viewed a thread started by a new member who is flying into Madrid and probably training it to Pamplona asking how to get from there to a small provincial French town in the western foothills of the Pyrenees, I wondered, again, why do people think that the Camino starts in St Jean pied de Porte?

Our new member could start walking to the shrine of Santiago from Pamplona, as many do. They could, if they were determined to travel away from Santiago before walking to Santiago, have made their way to historic Roncesvalles. They could, if they wanted to, head for Somport or Irun or even Barcelona but everyone wants to get to StJpdP and then leave it the following morning via a potentially crippling walk up and over a thumping great hill for no other reason that I can discern than "that its there" (Mallory, I forgive you) or because that is where their guide book starts.

With all due respects to @Monasp and the good folk of the Bureau des pèlerins de Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. Why?

We all know that the Camino Frances does not begin in any particular place. That said, SJPdP has become a common starting point for most Pilgrims, with the logical exception being Spaniards, for a variety of reasons.

I do not foresee this changing unless those same drivers start pushing other starting points ie: Somport, Lourdes, Irun etc. I am actually surprised with the crowds that other starting points have not become more popular. For instance, Irun, you could start there (Vasco) and connect to the Frances at Santa Domingo de Calzada or Burgos. The start is gentler and spends more time walking through Basque country.

For the time being, it appears, all those other drivers (reasons) keep Pilgrims flocking to SJPdP.

Ultreya,
Joe
 

MichaelC

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aug 2017: Le Puy to Santiago
Nov 2018: Kumano Kodo (partial)
2021: ?
Whatever the reason people initially started in Saint Jean, I believe people, now, see it as a place to experience what the Sarria people were experiencing. Starting in Saint Jean gives one a more structured environment to be excited in than Roncesvalles if that is what you are looking for. The people arriving by train, as well as bars, shops and an more urban environment to gird oneself for the journey ahead.
I think this is key. While I personally recommend to friends that they should start a few days back so that they are warmed up before crossing the Pyrenees, Saint Jean is a de facto starting point that isn't really equaled by any other place.
 

Donjek

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012 SJPdP - Fisterra
"So, as I viewed a thread started by a new member who is flying into Madrid and probably training it to Pamplona asking how to get from there to a small provincial French town in the western foothills of the Pyrenees, I wondered, again, why do people think that the Camino starts in St Jean pied de Porte?"

I would suggest a more important question is why people try to get from Madrid and other transportation hubs to SJPdP via Pamplona. Transportation connections are much better from Bayonne to SJPdP, at least in the shoulder and off seasons, and Bayonne is just as easy to attain from Madrid, etc, as is Pamplona.

To answer your question more thoroughly, SJPdP is a starting point because it has good transportation links.
 
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AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
Being a sinner (@Tincatinker and @rappahannock_rev may care to elaborate on this phenomenon) I decided to start at Le Puy-enVelay to follow in the footsteps of Godesalco, a bishop of that place in the 10th century.

Given that pilgrimages to Jerusalem, Rome, Santiago and, later, Canterbury were given for a penance I have often pondered what Godesalco had done to receive such a penance. And walking 1,600 km there and 1,600 km back was not a trivial exercise at that time and a return quite uncertain.

After five days on the Massif Central, the morning up from Saint-Jean seemed like a stroll in the park 😏

That was in April and May 2016.

In September 2018 I was walking from Canterbury towards Rome. Had I been there that month 100 years ago I would be dodging bullets from the belligerents on either side for most of the three weeks.

One day was from Laon towards Reims. In the afternoon I walked along Chemin des Dames (D18) and encountered the site of a skirmish in 1814, a battle in 1870 and a Stele des Basques. The latter commemorated the four French battalions recruited from the region north and south of Saint-Jean.

And a few hours later I walked into Pronto Pizza on the corner of D23 and Remparts du Midi, Cormichy. The owner greeted me as a long lost friend as he showed a photo of himself, complete with pack etc in the Piazza San Pietro, Roma. And, yes, as others have observed above about where your really start your pilgrimage, he started his from his home in Cormichy.

Modesty prevents me from telling you all what the pizza and bottle of good wine cost. But I can tell you I slept well that night in an orchard above the road about 200 metres away.

@VNwalking , when @Tincatinker reviews this discussion I am sure your grade will be one of the highest.

Kia kaha, katoa (you all take care, be strong, get going)
 

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)
@VNwalking , when @Tincatinker reviews this discussion I am sure your grade will be one of the highest.
I'm not sure what I said to deserve the praise, but thank you, Alwyn.

This has been such an educational and entertaining thread. If we're handing out grades, I'll give @Kathar1na the honours. She's offered up some gems of information.
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
Thank you @AlwynWellington for mentioning Bishop Godesalco. I had to go read up on him and discovered I've been confusing him with San Roque for years. San Roque being a Montpellier lad who walked to Rome, did some miraculous stuff and made the mistake of going home where greedy uncle seized him and locked him up. His statue is everywhere on the Le Puy.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
Thank you @AlwynWellington for mentioning Bishop Godesalco. I had to go read up on him and discovered I've been confusing him with San Roque for years. San Roque being a Montpellier lad who walked to Rome, did some miraculous stuff and made the mistake of going home where greedy uncle seized him and locked him up. His statue is everywhere on the Le Puy.
Do you mean the statue of San Roque or of Godesalco? San Roque is the most popular of the so called "plague saints". He was invoked against the plague. He is said to have cared for those who were affected by the disease while he was on pilgrimage to Rome and to have contracted the disease himself and to have survived it, through a miracle, what else.

The first major outbreak of the plague in Europe happened around 1350, with major recurrences until around 1650. Three hundred years of an incomprehensible and existential threat ... San Roque/Saint Roch's popularity spread throughout mainland Europe, processions, chapels dedicated to him, pilgrimages ... during that period he was perhaps more popular than Saint James ... there were Saint Roch fraternities, similar to those for Saint James. Most of these traditions have disappeared but I read in Wikipedia that there are still Saint Roch pilgrimages in a few places in Germany in August on his feast day today and I know that there's a town in Belgium where they light candles throughout the whole town on the eve of his feast day in perpetual gratefulness because the Saint is said to have saved the town's population several times from the plague. It has become a big (touristic) event in recent years.
 
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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
@Kathar1na - Statues of St Roque / Roch with his leg wound and dog are everywhere along the Le Puy.

And of course the big guy at the Alto de San Roch, after O'Cebreiro, now confuses me. Did he also go to Compostela?
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
And of course the big guy at the Alto de San Roch, after O'Cebreiro, now confuses me. Did he also go to Compostela?
San Roque didn't come to Northern Spain or to Santiago but the plague did. There was a chapel or eremita near the pass, dedicated to San Roque, and the pass is named after it. The statue is a Monumento al Peregrino. I sometimes wonder just how many modern statues dedicated to us pilgrim(s) and our pilgrimages have been erected in recent years ... 😊 .
 

Tandem Graham

Every new day an adventure
Camino(s) past & future
Bike: Mont St Michel-SdC '17. Budapest-Vezelay '18. Alicante-Burgos '19
Walk: Le Puy-SJPdP '18
Nowadays, and seen from "our" vantage point (non-English speaking Continental Europe ☺), SJPP is not only a starting point, it is also an end point: the natural end point of the road from Tours/Paris which is a major traditional road from France to Spain and the natural end point of the modern and very popular long-distance path from Le Puy that has been stylised or fashioned into a "camino de Santiago".
As you probably know, there are sketchy lists in the 12th Century Codex Callixtinus of important relics in specific churches which medieaval pilgrims were encouraged to visit along four named French routes to Santiago of which the Paris/Tours and Le Puy routes are two.
There is earlier documentary evidence in Santiago of Godescalc, a tenth century bishop of Le Puy, making the pilgrimage including many of the places on today's Le Puy route and Camino Frances. So it could be argued that the Le Puy route rather than a modern hikers' path was actually 'stylised' as a camino to Santiago a lot earlier in history.

But I take the point that the 20th century popularisation of the CF (which just means the route along which the French came) beginning at SJPdP has no real basis in earlier tradition. The Stele de Gibraltar, where three of the French routes meet, a day's walking north of SJPdP might be a more logical 'start', or the point just before Puente la Reina where the fourth French route joins.

Irritating pedantry it may be, but when other pilgrims or people back in the UK ask me 'so have you done the whole thing?', I usually respond 'Yes, from home, but not this time.'
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
There is earlier documentary evidence in Santiago of Godescalc, a tenth century bishop of Le Puy, making the pilgrimage including many of the places on today's Le Puy route and Camino Frances. So it could be argued that the Le Puy route rather than a modern hikers' path was actually 'stylised' as a camino to Santiago a lot earlier in history.
We've been through this before in an older thread. All that is known about this trip from Le Puy to Compostela is that it was in winter, the good bishop was in a hurry, he travelled with a large retinue, and he stopped at the abbey of Albelda in the vicinity of Logroño on the way back. Nothing else is known. He might have travelled on an old Roman road from Trier to Spain and across the Aubrac or elsewhere down the Rhone valley, given that it was winter. In any case, the bishop and his party did not travel on foot but we don't have the slightest clue where they actually travelled.

And the really fascinating thing about all this is that we can read the original here, although I can hardly decipher more than the first few words Ego quidem gomes and a bit further pampilonae albaildense, i.e. the name of the monk Gomez who copied a book for the bishop to take home and the words for Pamplona and Albelda, and then also gotiscalco epo, ie. bishop Godescalc. Luckily there are transcripts and even translations into a modern language, for example here.

All this is all fine and dandy if you are interested in that kind of thing. What I don't get, and here we come back to the original topic: why has this become so important to so many people who are not really into old manuscripts or medieval history and the life of an obscure bishop of the 10th century to the extent that it's being discussed and even fought over in online groups? Why is it not enough to say, hey, we worked out a great trail for you guys, walk it and enjoy it and regard it as a contemporary path where you can make pilgrimage to Santiago if that's what you'd like to do?

For those who would like to have a look but don't want to do much clicking around ☺:
Really old manuscript.jpg
 
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zrexer

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014, 15,16 & 19 Camino Frances
2017 Camino Portuguese
2018 Camino Primitivo
Starting in SJPP for me was more about the history of the Pyrenees, the Napoleon route. Never really even thought much about it being the 'official' starting point. As it turned out, heavy snow on April 8th, 2016 prevented me from talking the Napoleon route, so will likely go back in the fall some time, perhaps next year.
The walk via Val Carlos was interesting enough so I was not disappointed, just another reason though to go back to SJPP again so I can do the Napoleon variant.
 

RemysMimi

Hooked on the Camino!!
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2018)
Frances or Portuguese (2020)
Why must we always over analyze everything? So it starts in SJPDP; Somboro, England, MY FRONT DOOR. WHO CARES!! In the immortal words of Nike, JUST DO IT!!
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
@RemysMimi - Over analyzing things gives us something to do between caminos.

@Kathar1na - It may be past time I started learning latin and the cursive writing of the day. Source materials are oft revealing.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
@RemysMimi: Overanalyzing? Are you never curious about why things are the way they are? Or how they really were in the past?
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
We've been through this before in an older thread. All that is known about this trip from Le Puy to Compostela is that it was in winter, the good bishop was in a hurry, he travelled with a large retinue, and he stopped at the abbey of Albelda in the vicinity of Logroño on the way back. Nothing else is known. He might have travelled on an old Roman road from Trier to Spain and across the Aubrac or elsewhere down the Rhone valley, given that it was winter. In any case, the bishop and his party did not travel on foot but we don't have the slightest clue where they actually travelled.

And the really fascinating thing about all this is that we can read the original here, although I can hardly decipher more than the first few words Ego quidem gomes and a bit further pampilonae albaildense, i.e. the name of the monk Gomez who copied a book for the bishop to take home and the words for Pamplona and Albelda, and then also gotiscalco epo, ie. bishop Godescalc. Luckily there are transcripts and even translations into a modern language, for example here.

All this is all fine and dandy if you are interested in that kind of thing. What I don't get, and here we come back to the original topic: why has this become so important to so many people who are not really into old manuscripts or medieval history and the life of an obscure bishop of the 10th century to the extent that it's being discussed and even fought over in online groups? Why is it not enough to say, hey, we worked out a great trail for you guys, walk it and enjoy it and regard it as a contemporary path where you can make pilgrimage to Santiago if that's what you'd like to do?

For those who would like to have a look but don't want to do much clicking around ☺:
View attachment 65595
The path from Le Puy to SJPP may be modern but so is the Camino Frances in Spain. We know it connects villages that pilgrims passed through in the middle ages but we don't know it covers the same ground between those towns and villages that medieval pilgrims would have walked or ridden upon, and many believe that it doesn't, those medieval paths now lying under the surfaces of modern highways. Similarly, we know that medieval pilgrims walked from Le Puy through Conques and Moissac to Orisson and on through the pass to Roncesvalles and then on to SdC, as the Codex Calixtinus tells us so. The modern path connecting the towns is probably as good an approximation as the modern path connecting the towns and villages of the Camino in Spain is. Unless you have reason to believe otherwise?
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
Unless you have reason to believe otherwise?
A lot has been written about the lack of historicity of the way from Le Puy as a major pilgrimage road but most of it is not in English. I've quoted the work of Denise Péricard-Méa a few times. Here's a link to a summary article published in one the pilgrims associations' newsletter.

However, I'd just like to paraphrase the last sentence of this article: The contemporary pilgrimage roads to Santiago offer a range of services that facilitate the pilgrimage on foot and through their success in modern times they have become real major pilgrimage roads.

And the same can be said about SJPP: it was never a major starting point but through its success during the last few decades it has become a true assembling and starting point for the pilgrimage on foot to Santiago. This has now become the modern tradition of making pilgrimage on foot to Santiago: travel to a pre-defined starting point by any means of transport and then walk on a narrowly defined trail.

PS: Have another look at the map of 11-12th Century Trade Routes in post #164. ☺
 
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kay lee

Member
Camino(s) past & future
St Jean to Santiago (2012, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2019)
Via Francigena (2018); Via Podiensis (4-6, 2020)
I didn't start from here, but Cinque Terra may be an interesting start.
1570812909499.png
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
Well. Again I have to say this forum continues to intrigue and delight. As some will have noticed I've been back from my Piddle for a little while. It was a fascinating walk. We knitted Bronze Age Tracks and Saxon drove-ways, medieval pack-routes and even a bit of monastic pavement into a route that took us from near Shaftesbury to near Dorchester. Weighted with history and leavened by some good ale in some charming pubs. It's been a while since I was down that way and yet there were constant reminders of my mis-spent youth around every corner ;).

The bowdlerisation of Piddle to Puddle by Victorian newspapers is unsurprising but, as @Bradypus's excellent map-extract at #225 illustrates, they never did manage to do owt about Shitterton.

Now, back to the question. @AlwynWellington's suggestion that I might award grades made me smile. As I said at the beginning I am neither contrarian nor provocateur, nor am I that pursed-lipped supervisor of your Masters. So A+'s to @VNwalking; @Kathar1na; A's for @Bradypus; @David Tallan and the good @rappahannock_rev: and a mention in dispatches for @annakappa; @Derrybiketours; @David Tallan and Alwyn himself.

I have learnt so much from all your contributions.

Next weeks topic: Why do people think the Pilgrims' Menu is an especial treat reserved just for them?
 

Ian Afloat

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF July 25th 2017 from SJPDP
Members will be aware that I am neither a contrarian nor a provocateur but that I do like, now and again, to ask questions a little beyond which is the best bar to discuss the best sleeping bag in.

So, as I viewed a thread started by a new member who is flying into Madrid and probably training it to Pamplona asking how to get from there to a small provincial French town in the western foothills of the Pyrenees, I wondered, again, why do people think that the Camino starts in St Jean pied de Porte?

Our new member could start walking to the shrine of Santiago from Pamplona, as many do. They could, if they were determined to travel away from Santiago before walking to Santiago, have made their way to historic Roncesvalles. They could, if they wanted to, head for Somport or Irun or even Barcelona but everyone wants to get to StJpdP and then leave it the following morning via a potentially crippling walk up and over a thumping great hill for no other reason that I can discern than "that its there" (Mallory, I forgive you) or because that is where their guide book starts.

With all due respects to @Monasp and the good folk of the Bureau des pèlerins de Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. Why?
You're right. THE Camino starts in Oviedo. It's called the Primitivo
 

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