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The Journey or the Destination??

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
You will often read in pilgrims' accounts of their pilgrimage to Santiago that it was the journey, not the destination, that was important to them.
On Archicompostela (the pilgrimage website) they disagree and say:
"The most important thing here is the Goal, not the Way. Jacobean Pilgrims do not go on pilgrimage for the sake of the Way. Through the Way they do get to the Tomb of Saint James "the Great .. Thus, the Way is just a means, a road the pilgrim walks along."
Has 'walking the camino - the Way' become the goal?
 

JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
Has walking the Camino - the Way become the goal? Asks Sil.

The Cathedral authorities in Compostela say the goal is the most important thing for pilgrims and not simply the Way.

At first glance the quotation from C.P Cavafy I posted the other day seems to contradict this position:

“As you set out for Ithaka, hope your road is a long one, full of adventure, full of discovery…….. Keep Ithaka always in your mind. Arriving there is what you are destined for. But do not hurry the journey at all. Better if it lasts for years, so you are old by the time you reach the island, wealthy with all you have gained on the way, not expecting Ithaka to make you rich. Ithaka gave you the marvellous journey. Without her you wouldn’t have set out. She has nothing left to give you now. And if you find her poor, Ithaka won't have fooled you. Wise as you will have become, so full of experience, you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.”

But I think on reflection it doesn't really contradict the point. Pilgrimage in every tradition is a journey to a holy place, a place set apart. So it is the destination which defines pilgrimage.

People set off for all sorts of reasons and from all sorts of backgrounds. The outward journey on foot reflects an inward journey which I think everyone experiences. For some that is a spiritual process, for others a deeply religious excercise, for others nothing of the sort.

But it also seems to me that everyone wants to acheive the goal - to reach Santiago. I've never met anyone who reached the city boundary and then said "That's it, I'm off home".

Here's another quote:

"Within days of starting our pilgrimages we met people of all ages from many different countries. We also met: those who had prepared and those who hadn’t, people with huge rucksacks and those with almost nothing on their backs, people who were shy and those who were outgoing, pilgrims who believed in God and those who didn’t, people who were happy and people who were sad, people who had changed their lives and others who were happy with life the way it is. We met people who had lost partners and couples walking with their children. We met those who had experienced broken hearts and many who were falling in love with life.

We all walked the same road and when we got to Santiago Cathedral there was a place for each of us. Every one. "
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
For me, thinking back, the journey was the most important aspect. The destination of Santiago marked a clear-cut end-point, but not one I would feel in any sense obliged to return to if I walk again on Camino routes.

In some ways the most important weeks of my pilgrimage were the first two or three. As I walked up the hill out of Le Puy, and into the countryside, I had a sense of the 'right-ness' of what I was doing. The countryside in that first two weeks to Conques was often spectacular, and I loved being in it. Some of the early walk was difficult, and I had to persevere through bad weather, or with tender feet. And there was a lot of time alone to think, about people I knew, things I had done or not done, my relationship with God...

For much of the time I felt a 'fraud' as a pilgrim, knowing how much estranged I was from most things Catholic: I saw myself as a 'randonneur' (walker). But somehow, as I descended into Conques, where there were many tourists, I knew I had 'been somewhere inside' that had changed me- and that I had somehow become a 'pilgrim'. And though people point out that the Le Puy route is itself a 'creation' of the 70s, in many ways I felt much more like a part of a medieval pilgrim horde in these early weeks than I ever did in Spain. You pass many little 12thC chapels etc where you know that many thousands have walked before.

I think about where I might go another time. For some reason I don't understand, I feel drawn by Le Puy, which of course itself has been a Marian shrine for many hundreds of years. So perhaps Cluny-Le Puy, and/or Geneva-Le Puy lie in my future. Also, strangely again for a very lapsed Catholic, I spent some days in Lourdes in 2006, and would like to go there again, perhaps starting to walk for 2-3 weeks before I reach there, and then carry on again along the Camino Aragonese. (There I would probably finish somewhere like Estella- and I guess in some ways that would be hard to think of as a 'finishing' place.)
Which is all a bit strange really.... though I am convinced that for me the actual journeying/walking is what is important, I am drawn by these Marian shrines as endpoints!!!
Margaret
 

MichaelB10398

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago de Compostela, Lourdes to SdC, SJPP to SdC
I suspect that the concept of valuing the end-point is what made pilgrimages viable in the beginning. Every pilgrim that started the journey did not do so to walk or the achieve the benefits of the walk itself, their eye was focused on the shrine at the end of the Way. Along the Way their hearts were turned to meditation, prayer, repentance, etc. Most pilgrimages were first done to obtain forgiveness or to obtain a cure for physical malady.

The concept of valuing the shrine at the end of the trail does not or should not undercut the value of the Way itself. Of course, we must assume that we are talking about pilgrims that begin with spiritual/religious reasons. Even for those of us who are not Catholic, we set our eye on getting to Santiago. For non-Catholics, I suspect that the endpoint does have less meaning, but we all have a clear beginning point and a clear end point. How we each value that end, will be personal. For those who serve at the Cathedral or Marian shrines, they see these shrines as sacred. Having been to many of these shrines, I have to say that I have sensed these sacredness and it is for this reason I go back.

I don't think I wrote very clearly, but both the journey and the endpoint are of great value to most pilgrims.

Peace,

Michael
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Peace indeed. Strangely I find myself agreeing with every word I have read on this thread - not 'strangely' as I always want to disagree but because the viewpoints differ - yet I agree with them all.

The journey? Yes, absolutely, the journey is all ... but the journey without the endpoint? ... well, no, there has to be a destination, a reason to carry on against hardships .. so .. ermm .. both - as neither can exist without the other. One becomes a walk in the country, the other becomes a musueum.

My hobby (almost embarrassed to admit it as it is considered rather anorak) is metal detecting and sometimes we find medieaval lead ampullae from pilgrim shrines, cut open, poured out (we assume) and then buried in the middle of a field. I know nothing about what sort of ceremony would have taken place or even if it was done by the person alone.
But, someone went a long way to get that ampulla of holy water, to bring it back safely, all religious duties done, and then to cut it open and pour the water into their land ... such a type of ceremony goes back a long long time before Christianity ... as does this concept of pilgrimage - in whatever land and by whatever people. It seems to be hard-wired but I have no idea why -

.. here's a thought - do hunting societies like the Lapps go on pilgrimage or is it only farming societies? Do we miss following the migratory herds? I have no idea .. but here is a quote I love from the 17th c Zen Abbott, Matsuo Basho.

"The moon & sun are eternal travellers. Even the years wander on. A lifetime adrift in a boat, or in old age leading a tired horse into the years, every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home. From the earliest times there have always been some who have perished along the road. Still I have always been drawn by windblown clouds into dreams of a lifetime of wandering."


Pilgrims all, are we not?
 

JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
The Museum of Pilgrimage in Santiago is worth a visit - and entrance is free! The museum is dedicated to all pilgrimages and in the front hall there is a map of the world showing that pilgrimage routes exist in most countries accross all continents.

So pilgrims...faith, ideology and dogma apart, is there something deep in the hard wire of the human psyche which drives us on the search?
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
I used to think it was all about the journey, until the last couple of times I was in Santiago de Compostela and I noticed something.

Every time I go there (not always as a pilgrim) I find myself re-tracing the final few hundred meters of my first camino walk: through the plaza, down the steps, under the arch, and then round that corner.

The Plaza Obradoiro opens out. The pilgrims are there, the tourists, the parador, the tuna-singers, and I walk on into the stony wideness... I let myself turn and look to the left at the great face of Santiago cathedral, that great over-the-top wedding cake of stone and iron and wood that reaches right up into the heavens.

And I cry. Every single time. It just gets me, right here.
More than any stage or phase of the journey, more than the beach at Finisterre or even my own little house on the meseta. It´s the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela that makes the Camino, to me, the Camino. I love that place with all my heart.

Reb.
 

MichaelB10398

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago de Compostela, Lourdes to SdC, SJPP to SdC
Reb, thank you for that wonderful experience you shared. It summarizes an example of what I think is the value of pilgrimage. For too many of us religion has evolved into an existentialist exercise. I have been a student of religion (a disciple of Christ) most of my life. Of all the facts, histories, stories, philosophies, etc. that I have studied, none of it is valued like those tender experiences when the Spirit touches my heart and guides me. I am reminded of Paul's warning to Timothy, "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." We can study for a life time and never come to the knowledge of the truth, if we do not have that interaction with the Spirit that you described so well. Churches, doctrines, beliefs, all fall by the wayside when compared to that personal interaction between Divinity and the individual.

May each pilgrim along the Camino, whether at the beginning, on the Way, or when they enter the plaza in front of the Cathedral of Santiago, experience the same feelings of the Spirit. Those are the feelings upon which we can stand and know Truth.

Forgive me for bringing in a more blatant conversation of spiritual matters, but I am grateful that you shared that personal experience. Continued peace,

Michael
 

William Marques

Moderator
Staff member
Br. David said:
My hobby (almost embarrassed to admit it as it is considered rather anorak) is metal detecting and sometimes we find medieval lead ampullae from pilgrim shrines, cut open, poured out (we assume) and then buried in the middle of a field. I know nothing about what sort of ceremony would have taken place or even if it was done by the person alone.
But, someone went a long way to get that ampulla of holy water, to bring it back safely, all religious duties done, and then to cut it open and pour the water into their land ... such a type of ceremony goes back a long long time before Christianity ... as does this concept of pilgrimage - in whatever land and by whatever people. It seems to be hard-wired but I have no idea why -

I am probably teaching my grandmother to suck eggs here but the small ampullae purchased at Canterbury contained drops of water that were reputedly mixed with an essence obtained from the blood and brains of the murdered archbishop. This mixture was supplied to Canterbury pilgrims until abolished by Henry VIII in 1538.

It is said that pilgrim badges these were often considered a medicine for nearly any ailment. Whilst it is possible that ampullae from Canterbury which had St. Thomas Becket's likeness stamped on them, along with the inscription "Optimus aegorum medicus fit Thomas benorum", or "for good people who are sick, Thomas is the best doctor" and other similar ones were used for this purpose, there is no evidence that such faith was attached to other badges.

Perhaps there were ampullae that were used on the land but I doubt it was with church approval as you have said such practices sound pre Christian.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
What a delightful thread this is .. what openness of heart ...

William - yes .. though the Canterbury mix must have been quite homoeopathic by then :roll:

The ampullae found are the traditional jug with two handles of the Christian shrines - all shrines would have hadtheir own type, and the ones we find could come from as close as Walsingham or as far away as Santiago. What I meant by 'pre-Christian' is that it is known the Celts would bury valuable items at the centre of fields and also into springs for a similar purpose (blessing of the land or help in a coming trial such as battle), and as all know, the Romans buried items near sacred springs.

My point really, was to do with the question - for these, the emptiers and buriers of ampullae, the destination and to obtain the ampullae was of paramount importance, but to make it a virtuous and worthy reward then the hardship of the journey was a necessary part .. the two entwined.

here is one such field found ampulla , sliced open at the top
 

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William Marques

Moderator
Staff member
Sorry to continue this sidetrack from the topic but it is interesting to note that in the British Museums Portable Antiquities Scheme there are images of 758 ampulla and only 235 pilgrim badges.

In Piers the Plowman the line
"He bar by his syde
And hundred ampulles
;"
is followed by a few more about the badges worn
"On his hatt seten
Signes of Sysay,
And Shelles of Galice,
And many a crouche
On his cloke,
And keyes of Rome,
And the Vernicle fore
For men sholde knowe
And see bi hise signes
Whom he sought hadde
"
I surmise from this that the ampullae were to numerous to mention individually.

Using my twisted logic that signifies that most of the pilgrims did not just want to show that "he had been there and done that" but to bring back something with a connection however diluted to the relic to which he had travelled.

I only found 3 of the 235 badges that might be from Rome and although a larger proportion of ampullae may be from Santiago as time went by the shell became a sign of pilgrimage not just to Santiago. The fact that most finds in the scheme are from local pilgrimage centres to wherever they were found signifies that the destination was important more than the journey.

Now I think it is the other way round and the journey is the significant part but as has been pointed out you can't have one without the other.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Ah, interesting - Piers the ploughman was a 13th C dream vision of course, leading others to salvation and I had thought that the description at the simplest level was a satire of the world view of the religious extremist, like the menu at Trimalchios' Feast not being of a real meal but a political satire and exaggeration .. so not a description of an actual pilgrim, but 'overdone' to make jest of the over enthusiastic pilgrim and the over enthusiastic religious (and therefore the Church), wearing everything so that folk would see ... 100+ ampullae alone, for instance, would weigh about half a hundredweight - perhaps 50-60 lbs ...

as for destination versus journey - true, I think the destination of paramount importance .. but the journey a neccessary part of it. Par ex - if a farmer lived one mile from Walsingham would he believe that an ampulla bought there, at the shrine after a twenty minute stroll, would have the same power and effect as one brought back after long toil and danger to Santiago? I think Santiago .. and therefore the journey and the hardship is at the same level as the destination - don't you think?

but I could easily be wrong ... here is a marvellous drawing of a 17th c pilgrim .. was he a serious and humble pilgrim or a 'professional' pilgrim road traveller ... he wears no ampullae .. but veritable bandoliers of shells .. - and he settles the boots versus sandals argument :wink: - I wonder who he was, the confident relaxed man with such a good face ... it haunts me (in a pleasant way), I cannot stop looking at it and wondering, this lost man, now dust .. says something about my own mortality I think ..
 

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William Marques

Moderator
Staff member
I realise the quote referred to an exaggerated fictional character but my point was that the ampullae were too numerous to mention whereas the badges and other signs were small enough in number to be mentioned individually. Tenuous and not very academic I know.

To twist your point about the journey what if the peasant lived next to Santiago. Would he have considered a pilgrimage to Walsingham to be more worthy? I think not.
 

Priscillian

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 1999, Aragones 2000, Desde Le Puy 2002, Portuguese 2009, hoping RDLP 2014
Rebekah Scott said:
I used to think it was all about the journey, until the last couple of times I was in Santiago de Compostela and I noticed something.

Every time I go there (not always as a pilgrim) I find myself re-tracing the final few hundred meters of my first camino walk: through the plaza, down the steps, under the arch, and then round that corner.

The Plaza Obradoiro opens out. The pilgrims are there, the tourists, the parador, the tuna-singers, and I walk on into the stony wideness... I let myself turn and look to the left at the great face of Santiago cathedral, that great over-the-top wedding cake of stone and iron and wood that reaches right up into the heavens.

And I cry. Every single time. It just gets me, right here.
More than any stage or phase of the journey, more than the beach at Finisterre or even my own little house on the meseta. It´s the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela that makes the Camino, to me, the Camino. I love that place with all my heart.

Reb.

I could have written this myself! The sight of the cathedral from the Obradoiro for the first time every time I return reduces me to embarrassed tears.
Perhaps the issue isn't an either or? Both the journey AND the destination are important to me, although last week on Friday I met a man called Pedro and his dog. They had walked from Barcelona. This was his 8th camino.
"Santiago (place and person) isn't why I walk," he told me. "I follow the Ruta de las Estrellas." By now he will be in Fisterre, with a lot of other pilgrims who presumably are in agreement with him.
Tracy Saunders
http://www.pilgrimagetoheresy.com
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
In 2004 I was foruntate enough to visit John Clark at the London Museum who showed me their trays of Santiago 'souvenirs' which are not on display. Although some were found in excavations around old churchyards and burial grounds, the majority were found on the banks of the Thames. Many of these appear in Brian Spencer's excellent record "Pilgrim Souvenirs and Secular Badges (Medieval Finds from Excavations in London). The little metal pin brooch offered by the CSJ is a replica of a 14thC souvenir found close to the London Bridge. In 2004 the original was in a glass case in the Medieval gallery, exhibit number 33.
John was not sure why so many were found alongside the river but as it was a dumping ground for many centuries, he surmised that badges and souvenirs were thrown out together with other unwanted items when family members passed on.
 

JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
Br. David said:
as for destination versus journey - true, I think the destination of paramount importance .. but the journey a neccessary part of it...(JW edit) and therefore the journey and the hardship is at the same level as the destination - don't you think?

And therein lies the issue I've been wondering about. Why do we do it?

Before walking to Santiago I thought that prilgrimages were what ladies did on buses with with a packed lunch in one hand, rosary beads in the other and a good sing song on the way home. Then I read about the pilgrimage to Santiago and then I walked my first route. I was aware of some of my reasons for doing so and as I went along I became aware of others. For a time I thought that the motivation for making a pilgrimage was entirely personal to the individual. And of course it must be to some extent.

But what I discovered was this "other world" of pilgrimage - almost like another dimension where across the world, from many religous and cultural backgrounds many thousands of people make pilgrimages - they set themselves apart from regular daily life. They endure some hardship. They make considerable effort. They live more simply. And they drive (or are driven) towards reaching the destination.

This is a phenomenon which is very ancient and is engaged in by many people. It seems to be worldwide and cross all cultural/religious boundaries. And so to my original question, for which I have no ready answer, is there something in the hard drive of us humans which makes us search in this way?
 

PILGRIMSPLAZA

Active Member
Go west, young man!

... is there something in the hard drive of us humans which makes us search in this way?
Of course there is; the question is what condition? Louis Charpentier told us. Europeans feel the need to go west where the sun sets and they took that urge with them to the States.

Let's try to get un unbiased scientific research program started. There must be thousands of old and new pilgrim students who would like to earn a degree in this field. A questionnaire in a tourist or pilgrim's office could get some relevant decisionmakers in the good mood.
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
When I arrived in Santiago with my two friends after walking from Roncesvalles in 2002 we all felt a sense of anti-climax. "Is this it? Is this what we have walked 750km for?"
We went to the pilgrim's mass the following day and got chills when the nun sang, got teary eyed when the priest said "..y tres senoras dall sud Africa" and jumped up and down and hugged familar friends as they too walked into the square.
But, it wasn't until we walked up to the Faro and saw the last marker at Finisterre that we really felt closure. "Yes! This is the end for us."
I love being in Santiago and in the cathedral but I would love it just as much if I drove there or got a bus.
I walked the camino again (and again!) not because I wanted to visit the tomb of St James in the cathedral, but because I wanted to experience the 'incredible journey' again.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
sillydoll said:
Has 'walking the camino - the Way' become the goal?

This is becoming a very interesting thread. Also - by the way - like Geert, I am also grateful to Ivar for creating this new section of the Forum. As I walked to Compostela from Worcester last year, almost every step of the way I was conscious of being on a road that finally becomes a set of steps up to the Obradoiro, then passes through the gateway of the Portal guarded by the figure of St James under the Christ in Glory, and finally the Camino becomes the aisle leading to the altar, behind which are the relics of St James.

Before anyone reminds me that the relics may not be those of the Apostle. I should point out that I am aware of the tenuous historical links, but I refer to a journey of faith, in which symbolism and metaphor play their part in a pilgrimage that connects me as an individual to a community of faith and a collection of ghostly companions walking alongside me through the centuries. The step-by-step immersion in the tradition while walking towards that place gives meaning to the 'way' and the goal informs the way. To arrive at the goal is perhaps unnecessary, when the goal is carried in the heart along the way. It is nevertheless good to arrive at the goal, but in doing so we are also reflecting on the experience of the way. They two go together intextricably.

Recently, I cycled to Chartres from London via Dieppe, on the route I walked last year. I spent four days in Chartres exploring the sculpture and the stained glass once again. My twentieth visit in twenty five years! While there, I walked out of town a short distance and walked back in again on the route marked as the Chemin Saint-Jacques de Compostelle. I followed the pilgrim waymarks over the River Eure and up the steps to the cathedral, where there is a marker set into the pavings outside showing the distance to Compostela. In doing this short walk - less than a mile - recalling an earlier walk that went all the way to Compostela, I had a lump in my throat and arrived at the cathedral in Chartres with a tear in my eye. I puzzled over this. Why was it such an emotionally charged little walk?

It is because the journey contains an expectation of the arrival. In my beginning is my end and in my end is my beginning, to paraphrase T.S.Eliot, and a moment of recalling the experience in a short walk tracing a small section of the route was enough to bring back the sense of arrival. Does this make sense? Does it ring any bells for others? The relationship between the journey and the goal is an interesting one because pilgrimage is a metaphor for our lives' journeys. Perhaps the arrival at Compostela is even a metaphor for death. (Burning pilgrim clothes at Finisterre...?) The sense of 'anticlimax' some feel may simply be a relaxed attitude towards the end of life.

Plenty to think about on this one, eh? :)

Gareth
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Before I left to walk the Via Francigena to Rome, Peter sent me this piece of Irish wisdom!

Pilgrim, take care your journey's not in vain,
A hazard without profit, without gain;
The king you seek you'll find in Rome, it's true,
But only if he travels on the way with you."

9th-century Irish text
 

PILGRIMSPLAZA

Active Member
coming home

- by the way ...
... discussing secular aspects includes the others in my view. But you are striking now the interesting topic of knowlegde. The feelings you mention visiting Chartres I share at Vézelay. It feels like coming home because I know that Mary Magdalan was there (spiritually) and professor Bauer had told me before that there Christ was shown as symbol of love for the first time in those dark ages. I was especially drawn to that white picture of a mother with baby that made me think of my own mother (foto below), and -I must confess- even at this moment it brings back a tear in my eye. The aspects of east-west-lines -I referred to above- in so many rows of upright stones in coastal areas in France are not connected with knowledge but with the unknown. The darkness of afterlife beyond Fisterra and the light in Vézelay...
 

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nellpilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
SDC-Fisterra 08/Camino Frances SJPP to SDC 09/Nuremburg-SDC 11- ongoing
"We have tested and tasted too much, lover-
Through a chink too wide there comes in no wonder"

'Advent by' Patrick Kavanagh

Bonne route
Nell
 

dizzydog

New Member
I would not have ever considered walking the Camino without a spiritual motivation. One of the unexpected pleasures of the Camino for me was the pilgrim Mass in many parish churches at 7 or 7 30 pm. The first of those I attended was in the little chapel beside the Albergue in Ponferrada. The priest got everyone to say the Pater Noster in their own language and it really brought home to me the universality of the Church. In Santiago, The ritual aspect of completing the Camino; getting the Credencial, attending the Noon Mass, going round the Cathedral to see the various features; are all very important. To see the number of pilgrims overwhelmed on arrival in the Praza Obradeiro indicated to me that very many appreciate and value this spiritual aspect.
 
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AJ

Guest
sillydoll said:
Before I left to walk the Via Francigena to Rome, Peter sent me this piece of Irish wisdom!

Pilgrim, take care your journey's not in vain,
A hazard without profit, without gain;
The king you seek you'll find in Rome, it's true,
But only if he travels on the way with you."

9th-century Irish text


I have to agree with this: otherwise it is just a long walk.
 

johnBCCanada

Active Member
Maybe it is because I am not religious or even particularly spiritual but the question doesn't make much sense to me. I don't see separating the journey from the destination. It can't be done and if it could it would fundamentally change that which was left. Each give meaning to the other.

The question, it seems to me, is not the journey or the destination, but to do the Camino or not and most of the people on this forum have made that decision. For many or most of the people we know that would not even be a question they would seriously consider.

What that means I don't know.
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
It has been estimated that over 200 million pilgrims have made the pilgrimage to Lourdes since 1869. I don't think any of them even remember the journey there!
The majority of pilgrimage destinations are paramount - where the shrine, temple, cave, rock, mountain, river etc is paramount. Nobody cares how you get to Chartres, or to the Church of the Nativity, or to Lough Derg, or Ayres Rock, or the Ganges.
The paths to Santiago have taken on 'shrine-like' importance, where walking the way is almost, if not more, important than reaching Santiago itself.
 

johnBCCanada

Active Member
Sil

so is it just a modern or secular notion that the merit or significance of reaching the destination increases with a difficult journey necessary to reach the destination?

john
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
No, John, I'm sure you know full well that it is not a modern notion! It is a medieval notion that the longer the journey the bigger the reward and if you die on the way you'll earn the ultimate prize! But,those times have passed. Today you don't even have to walk to Santiago to earn your indulgence, only visit the tomb and comply with certain requirements.
Sadly, we can never compare with those medieval pilgrims who had no option but to embark on long, dangerous journeys on foot or by sea to the popular Christian shrines of Europe.
Today we choose a starting point that suits our time frame, and pocket, we fly in - start walking, and when we reach our destination we say 'goodbye tradtional pilgrimage, I'm now going to rejoin the real world" and fly home. Modern pilgrimage is a one way phenomenon!
The modern, Marian shrines haven't adopted long journeys into their merit system. (A few require some crawling on knees or prostration.) Are their devotees any less deserving of merit because they don't walk long distances to get there?
Only one in five pilgrims walking on the camino earns a Compostela (according to the Pilgrims' Office). To me that shows that the camino itself has become a destination in itself, rather than the tomb of St James in Santiago.
 

annakappa

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Part frances jun 07/rest frances may- jun 2008/Frances sept-oct 2009/ Sanabres Oct 2010/Frances sept-oct 2011/Aragones Sept-Oct 2012. Hospitalero Sept 2010, Amiga in Pilgrim's Office Oct 2013. Part Primitivo Oct 2013. Portugues from Porto June 2015.
How can you reach a destination without making a journey? Anne
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
sillydoll said:
....SNIP..
Today we choose a starting point that suits our time frame, and pocket, we fly in - start walking, and when we reach our destination we say 'goodbye traditional pilgrimage, I'm now going to rejoin the real world" and fly home. Modern pilgrimage is a one way phenomenon!....SNIP
.

I was walking along with a German couple as we left Monte Gonzo toward Santiago. He asked me if I had ever thought about how the early Pilgrims must have felt at this point....he then mentioned that the early Pilgrims now had to walk back to where they started from. :shock:
This was an astounding revelation to us as we had truly never contemplated it. A truly eye opening moment.
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
In Rosemary Mahoney's book "The Singular Pilgrim" she writes, "Father Maanzo said that the notion of physical penance - punishing the body in order that the soul might find purity - was a monastic notion and not taught by Christ. The church leaders are now trying to explain the dogma they came up with."
Many non-Catholic Christians (not only Protestants, but also some Eastern Orthodox Christians) believe that the practice of inflicting pain on oneself is not compatible with Jesus's teaching.
 

Caminando

Veteran Member
JohnnieWalker said:
Has walking the Camino - the Way become the goal? Asks Sil.

The Cathedral authorities in Compostela say the goal is the most important thing for pilgrims and not simply the Way.

Pilgrimage in every tradition is a journey to a holy place, a place set apart. So it is the destination which defines pilgrimage.

Interesting points here, JW.

However I'm not sure that I'd accept the 'Cathedral authorities' pronouncements...you may not either.

And yes pilgrimage is a journey to a holy place; but it doesnt therefore follow that the destination defines the pilgrimage. As you have expressed it, it seems contradictory, tho' I may be misunderstanding you.

In India the destination is for most (I'm sure) the goal, not the journey.

None of which devalues our own personal definitions of pilgrimage, and our valuing of others' pilgrimage.

Have a thoughtful and reflective Camino from Ponferrada; it sounds wonderful.
:arrow:
 

johnBCCanada

Active Member
Interesting directions this thread is taking.

When I think of the pilgrimage journey I don't think of pain. I think of going to a strange country where I don't speak the language and making a journey which is an extended effort in a foreign environment. I have to cope in a different country and while walking I have lots of time to think. I meet pilgrims from all over who are on the Camino for all their own reasons.

Not pain but an extended effort in a setting very different from my normal one. A good time and situation to think and consider if that is one's nature.

john
 

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