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Search 69,459 Camino Questions

To Compostela or not to Compostela

LoWo

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
April/May 2023 Norte
Hello all! So I arrived in Santiago today (later in the day, per usual for me) and I’m very relieved to be finished! I’ll walk the final km from my accommodation to the Cathedral first thing tomorrow morning. It has been a challenging journey for me, almost every day…of course much to be enjoyed along the way as well, but it was more physically and mentally challenging than I expected.

I started in San Sebastian originally thinking I’d walk from Irun to Oviedo to Santiago with my 40 total days in Spain (35-38 on the way). But I decided to linger in San Sebastian with jet lag for an extra day and started walking from there…and then got tendinitis in my foot on my very first day of walking. I realize now I hadn't trained nearly enough and also my pack was way too heavy. After 2 rest days, I continued on quite slowly thinking any day could be my last for one reason (injury) or another. I was content to just see how far I could walk and whether I could get into a rhythm. For the rest of my time on the Norte, I was pretty liberal with public transport to keep my days short and eventually so I could make it to Santander by the end of April to catch a bus to Oviedo as I decided to prioritize the Primitivo. I also shed weight in my pack by sending not one, but two packages to Santiago! (The second was when I decided to shed my 3.5lb sleeping bag and rely on my silk liner + albergue blankets…only got me into trouble once at a Galician municipal with no blankets on a cold night!)

I took the bus to Oviedo April 30 and started walking the Primitivo May 1 determined to walk the entire way with no buses or taxis. I had several moments of being actually grateful for the continual opportunities to “adapt and overcome” in order to keep going. I continued to take it slow and include rest days but after Hospitales, I was feeling pretty good and confident and did a few full stages in a row. But by the time I got to Lugo, it was getting mentally tough again. I had already decided to take the Verde route from Lugo to Friol to Sobrado because I wanted to stay at the monastery there and I also wanted to avoid the hustle and bustle of Melide and Arzua.

Those 2 days on the Verde after Lugo I was at a low point, very sapped of energy. Unfortunately those are both 25km+ days with literally nothing in between for rest or as an alternative stopping point. So the first day I caught a bus in the middle and took it for just 6km justifying to myself that the Verde route makes it 108km from Lugo to Santiago so it’s not so bad…but then the day from Friol to Sobrado I was wiped. I either physically could not walk those 26km or I just really, really, really didn't want to. I walked 10 and took a taxi the rest of the way to the Monastery. I really enjoyed my time in Sobrado fwiw. Then I slogged on, willing myself to walk the next 3 days to Santiago. Turned out that meeting up with the “crowd” was actually a good energy boost the last day and a half.

I don’t mean to bog it down with a winding story… but that was my journey. And the question is: to Compostela or not to Compostela? (For the Primitivo)

I know I have broken more than one “rule” as it pertains to the (“most important”) last 100km…I didn't follow an officially recognized route and I didn’t walk the whole way from Lugo.

My considerations are:
*I was never particularly motivated by the Compostela (or even Santiago necessarily…for me, the journey is the destination)
*I did walk more than 100km in a pilgrimage to Santiago and it could be neat to have a commemoration of it
*Would it be helpful to the pilgrims office to know officially about a pilgrim who started in Oviedo? How important is it for them to know how many people are walking if not everyone on the path gets a Compostela? Do they have a formula that figures in the people who walk but don’t get the paper?

All that said: What would you do?
 
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Personally I wouldn't ask for a Compostela. I no longer do anyway. But in your situation I would feel dishonest in claiming one knowing that I had not met the cathedral rules and the Compostela would be tainted for me. I think the rules as they stand are petty but the piece of paper is not worth lying for.
 
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Hello all! So I arrived in Santiago today (later in the day, per usual for me) and I’m very relieved to be finished! I’ll walk the final km from my accommodation to the Cathedral first thing tomorrow morning. It has been a challenging journey for me, almost every day…of course much to be enjoyed along the way as well, but it was more physically and mentally challenging than I expected.

I started in San Sebastian originally thinking I’d walk from Irun to Oviedo to Santiago with my 40 total days in Spain (35-38 on the way). But I decided to linger in San Sebastian with jet lag for an extra day and started walking from there…and then got tendinitis in my foot on my very first day of walking. I realize now I hadn't trained nearly enough and also my pack was way too heavy. After 2 rest days, I continued on quite slowly thinking any day could be my last for one reason (injury) or another. I was content to just see how far I could walk and whether I could get into a rhythm. For the rest of my time on the Norte, I was pretty liberal with public transport to keep my days short and eventually so I could make it to Santander by the end of April to catch a bus to Oviedo as I decided to prioritize the Primitivo. I also shed weight in my pack by sending not one, but two packages to Santiago! (The second was when I decided to shed my 3.5lb sleeping bag and rely on my silk liner + albergue blankets…only got me into trouble once at a Galician municipal with no blankets on a cold night!)

I took the bus to Oviedo April 30 and started walking the Primitivo May 1 determined to walk the entire way with no buses or taxis. I had several moments of being actually grateful for the continual opportunities to “adapt and overcome” in order to keep going. I continued to take it slow and include rest days but after Hospitales, I was feeling pretty good and confident and did a few full stages in a row. But by the time I got to Lugo, it was getting mentally tough again. I had already decided to take the Verde route from Lugo to Friol to Sobrado because I wanted to stay at the monastery there and I also wanted to avoid the hustle and bustle of Melide and Arzua.

Those 2 days on the Verde after Lugo I was at a low point, very sapped of energy. Unfortunately those are both 25km+ days with literally nothing in between for rest or as an alternative stopping point. So the first day I caught a bus in the middle and took it for just 6km justifying to myself that the Verde route makes it 108km from Lugo to Santiago so it’s not so bad…but then the day from Friol to Sobrado I was wiped. I either physically could not walk those 26km or I just really, really, really didn't want to. I walked 10 and took a taxi the rest of the way to the Monastery. I really enjoyed my time in Sobrado fwiw. Then I slogged on, willing myself to walk the next 3 days to Santiago. Turned out that meeting up with the “crowd” was actually a good energy boost the last day and a half.

I don’t mean to bog it down with a winding story… but that was my journey. And the question is: to Compostela or not to Compostela? (For the Primitivo)

I know I have broken more than one “rule” as it pertains to the (“most important”) last 100km…I didn't follow an officially recognized route and I didn’t walk the whole way from Lugo.

My considerations are:
*I was never particularly motivated by the Compostela (or even Santiago necessarily…for me, the journey is the destination)
*I did walk more than 100km in a pilgrimage to Santiago and it could be neat to have a commemoration of it
*Would it be helpful to the pilgrims office to know officially about a pilgrim who started in Oviedo? How important is it for them to know how many people are walking if not everyone on the path gets a Compostela? Do they have a formula that figures in the people who walk but don’t get the paper?

All that said: What would you do?
Skip the pimentos; just have a beer and luxuriate in the memory of your journey.
 
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Personally I wouldn't ask for a Compostela. I no longer do anyway. But in your situation I would feel dishonest in claiming one knowing that I had not met the cathedral rules and the Compostela would be tainted for me. I think the rules as they stand are petty but the piece of paper is not worth lying for.
Hmm, “dishonest” and “lying” seem like strong words. Maybe I misunderstood what it means to ask for a Compostela (having never done it before). In my mind I likened it to “I have walked at least 100km to get to Santiago, please help me commemorate this journey…” but you make it sound like it is more akin to an application where I am saying “I have walked the last 100km to Santiago on an officially recognized route, please give me a certificate of completion to make it official.” Maybe I misinterpreted the Cathedral’s purposes in the rules as well.
I do admittedly sometimes struggle to keep the “letter of the law” as compared to the “spirit of the law” when I am interpreting rules.

I have to agree they seem petty…and also that the piece of paper certainly isn’t worth lying for if that’s what I’d be doing by asking for a Compostela.
 
In my mind I likened it to “I have walked at least 100km to get to Santiago, please help me commemorate this journey…” but you make it sound like it is more akin to an application where I am saying “I have walked the last 100km to Santiago on an officially recognized route, please give me a certificate of completion to make it official.”
The cathedral rules are very specific on this one: you have to walk the final 100km. Doesn't matter how far you have walked before that. There was no minimum distance rule at the time of my first Camino. You asked for a Compostela in the cathedral and spoke with someone from the cathedral staff - usually the priest with special responsibility for greeting pilgrims. A chance to talk about the journey and your experience along the way. Distance was not an issue and no-one asked for two stamps per day. These days it is far more of an impersonal tick-box exercise.
 
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Thank you for your thoughts. I was already leaning towards not asking for one and I think I will definitely not. This also takes one thing of my list of “errands” for the day.
 
Does any one know if the distance certificate is included in the data for arrivals? I have always assumed so, but now am not sure.

And you can just go in and have your credencial closed with a stamp. Are any of these folks counted in the data?
@Alan Pearce? @Flog?
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Closed with a stamp.. no record.
Distance cert only.. once printed, it's automatically logged and this is a very recent development.. Not 100% sure if this is included in arrivals count, but I think so.
 
Thank you for your thoughts. I was already leaning towards not asking for one and I think I will definitely not. This also takes one thing of my list of “errands” for the day.
l can understand that this might be a disappointing result for you, and I can understand you might have been upset about it. I'm not sure that I can say much to ease that. You will take away some wonderful memories - preserve them in some other way. I see @trecile has said something similar as I am typing this, and I agree - find some way to preserve the wonderful things that did happen on your pilgrimage.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
I have just returned home from my first Camiño. I’m happy that I earned two Compestelas and a couple certificates. When I got home though my shell and passport with all the stamps were placed on a shelf in a prominent place and the Compestela itself is still in a tube in my pack.

I think the Compestela should be collected where earned but for me and most people I don’t feel it represents all you accomplished on your walk. I wouldn’t ask for a Compestela under these circumstances. I would remember time on Camiño for your memories and use the Compestela as a goal and motivation to return for another Camiño.

Buen Camino
 
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Don't forget that you can obtain a "la Cotolaya" from the Church of St Francis in Santiago, between 5 - 7pm. This is available to anyone 100km rule met or not! Just leave a small donation to cover the cost - it will be appreciated.
 
The certificate from the Church of San Francisco (just mentioned above) sounds like a good solution to your desire to have some commemoration. Until I started to get compostelas vicarie pro with friends dying all over the place, my own compostelas are just stacked away in their little tubes.

Whiile pimientos de padron are not yet available, you might want to try out vermut artisanal on the terrace with a little dish of olives.
 
The Camino is not really about the Compostela, but in enriching one’s spiritual life by prayer and contemplation during the physical challenges of the Camino. Let’s face it — the Camino was created and has always really existed for practicing Catholics (and perhaps certain Protestants) who wish to walk to reach the traditional burial site of St. James. Otherwise, it has been culturally appropriated by non-religious persons who think it is “cool,” a “great hike,” a “biking adventure” or a chance to “converse with Mother Gaia.”. If you are religious in the traditional Western sense, and have appropriately engaged in prayer and contemplation along the way, you already have a “Compostela.”
 
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Hmm, “dishonest” and “lying” seem like strong words. Maybe I misunderstood what it means to ask for a Compostela (having never done it before). In my mind I likened it to “I have walked at least 100km to get to Santiago, please help me commemorate this journey…” but you make it sound like it is more akin to an application where I am saying “I have walked the last 100km to Santiago on an officially recognized route, please give me a certificate of completion to make it official.” Maybe I misinterpreted the Cathedral’s purposes in the rules as well.
I do admittedly sometimes struggle to keep the “letter of the law” as compared to the “spirit of the law” when I am interpreting rules.

I have to agree they seem petty…and also that the piece of paper certainly isn’t worth lying for if that’s what I’d be doing by asking for a Compostela.
The cathedral rules are very specific on this one: you have to walk the final 100km. Doesn't matter how far you have walked before that.
As @Bradypus says the rules can't be more specific.

*I was never particularly motivated by the Compostela (or even Santiago necessarily…for me, the journey is the destination)
*I did walk more than 100km in a pilgrimage to Santiago and it could be neat to have a commemoration of it
*Would it be helpful to the pilgrims office to know officially about a pilgrim who started in Oviedo? How important is it for them to know how many people are walking if not everyone on the path gets a Compostela? Do they have a formula that figures in the people who walk but don’t get the paper?
As you said you were never really motivated to get a Compostela. The pilgrim office will ask you where you started but they are really just (and not always) if you have your two stamps a day from 100k out of Santiago. This year I will walk from Bayonne to Burgos on the Vasco Interior, then walk the Meseta to Leon and then take a bus to Porto to walk the Coastal Portugues. Pretty convoluted, but it is what I want to do. I will have walked alot more than 100K and I will say I started in Bayonne because that is true. I do get Compostellas because I give them to loved ones when I am done. The one that matters most to me is only my first one. So take the advice of others and go eat and have a beer with some friends you have met along the way in Santiago.
 
I have just returned home from my first Camiño. I’m happy that I earned two Compestelas and a couple certificates. When I got home though my shell and passport with all the stamps were placed on a shelf in a prominent place and the Compestela itself is still in a tube in my pack.

I think the Compestela should be collected where earned but for me and most people I don’t feel it represents all you accomplished on your walk. I wouldn’t ask for a Compestela under these circumstances. I would remember time on Camiño for your memories and use the Compestela as a goal and motivation to return for another Camiño.

Buen Camino
I agree the passport is more important…
 
l can understand that this might be a disappointing result for you, and I can understand you might have been upset about it. I'm not sure that I can say much to ease that. You will take away some wonderful memories - preserve them in some other way. I see @trecile has said something similar as I am typing this, and I agree - find some way to preserve the wonderful things that did happen on your pilgrimage.
I’m not disappointed or upset. I just didn’t really understand what the process was like to go to the Pilgrims office in general. I thought you would only go if you planned to get a Compostela and I didn't know what they would do/say/ask when I got there. I never had any intention of lying about whether I walked the last 100km if/when asked. I suppose my original post was a bit misleading in implying I really wanted a Compostela and wanted justification to get it. But the part about about not really caring about getting one was and is true.

On advice from a PM, I went to the Pilgrims office anyway to show my passport and have it stamped and the volunteer who helped me was very straightforward and so was I. I described my journey and she said I didn't qualify and she made up a different certificate instead that I could buy. She was a little apologetic that I had “walked all that way” and didn’t get a Compostela and suggested I could just walk from Lugo on another trip sometime.

Thanks everyone for the advice. I’m still learning about the “importance” of these different elements of the camino and of course even then it varies from person to person. I respect those who see special meaning in the Compostela, especially as things to give to loved ones for specific reasons.

I had a perfectly content day in Santiago yesterday going to the Pilgrims office, picking up my various shipped items, and attending the evening mass. I miraculously avoided waiting in any lines and was glad to complete the journey. What I’ve learned and experienced along the way is far more valuable than anything else.
 
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Let’s face it — the Camino was created and has always really existed for practicing Catholics
I do not agree. Initially, the Camino was created in the context of the Reconquista, for political reasons.

My feeling is that now, the sense of the Camino is spiritual, not only religious, and it offers anybody (including non-christian people, atheists, philatelist...) the chance to meet other people, help them, talk to them, live with them during a walk...
 
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I do not agree. Initially, the Camino was created in the context of the Reconquista, for political reasons.

My feeling is that now, the sense of the Camino is spiritual, not only religious, and it offers anybody (including non-christian people, atheists, philatelist...) the chance to meet other people, help them, talk to them, live with them during a walk...
Thr fact is that the original Camino was intended as a substitute for medieval Holy Land pilgrimages that were cut off by the Islamic invasion of the Holy Land. To contend that the thousands of medieval pilgrims who walked from other parts of Europe for the Camino and faced hardships (no albergues, no restaurants, no modern shoes, etc.) totally beyond modern day pilgrims did so for “political reasons” is absolutely ludicrous. A Catholic priest basically restored the Camino in modern times. Reality does not match your feeling. That being said, it is ok by me that a non-religious person culturally appropriates the Camino. Just be honest enough to admit it is cultural appropriation.
 
Let’s face it — the Camino was created and has always really existed for practicing Catholics
The "Camino", arguably was.
But, I'd add that I find it next nigh to impossible to untangle the Religious and Political motivations for all kinds of actions through European history right up to the present day.

And let's not forget that long before there was a Christian Pilgrimage to Santiago there's pretty strong evidence of a Pagan precursor.

it is ok by me that a non-religious person culturally appropriates the Camino. Just be honest enough to admit it is cultural appropriation.

Perhaps, given that the Church "culturally appropriated" a Pagan ritual you can appreciate the irony of your statement?
 
A Catholic priest basically restored the Camino in modern times. Reality does not match your feeling. That being said, it is ok by me that a non-religious person culturally appropriates the Camino. Just be honest enough to admit it is cultural appropriation.
This made me grin broadly: The Camino de Santiago, celebrated with great fanfare, especially by Spain, as the first European Cultural Route in 1987, is being culturally appropriated by Camino walkers in 2023 ... 😆.
 
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And let's not forget that long before there was a Christian Pilgrimage to Santiago there's pretty strong evidence of a Pagan precursor.
A pagan pilgrimage to a place that didn't exist? Even if not SDC, where and what evidence. I had understood there has been much speculation about this, and ongoing exploration, but nothing one might establish this with any likelihood. Can you point to sources. I would be interested to know if there has been some progress here.
 
What did the Romans ever do for us: apart from the roads and the bridges and the aqueducts…. and the Mithraic pilgrimage to Finis Terre. No Compostela ‘cos Compostela wasn’t there. But they did throw in a cemetery that, presumably, provided a nice tree free space on which to knock up a Cathedral once the need arose.

Not that this has owt to do with the OP, or anything of consequence either 😉
 
Thr fact is that the original Camino was intended as a substitute for medieval Holy Land pilgrimages that were cut off by the Islamic invasion of the Holy Land. To contend that the thousands of medieval pilgrims who walked from other parts of Europe for the Camino and faced hardships (no albergues, no restaurants, no modern shoes, etc.) totally beyond modern day pilgrims did so for “political reasons” is absolutely ludicrous. A Catholic priest basically restored the Camino in modern times. Reality does not match your feeling. That being said, it is ok by me that a non-religious person culturally appropriates the Camino. Just be honest enough to admit it is cultural appropriation.
That's a bit of a simplistic presentation of medieval pilgrims (as anyone who has read the Canterbury Tales knows). The reasons for individual pilgrims walking were varied then, as they are today. The reasons for the Church and State to promote the pilgrimage route and invest in supporting it were also many, but they certainly included political as well as economic motivations.

It is also a simplistic representation of the modern revival of the pilgrimage. I am the last person to minimize the huge contribution of Don Elias Valiñas but to say that he restored it single-handedly is, frankly absurd, and hides the important contributions of others (like the Confraternities and Organizations both in Spain and elsewhere - early on especially in France and England) and, yes, the civil authorities, which were also integral to the revival of the Camino.

I know it feels nice to have a simple and straightforward story. Unfortunately, reality doesn't match your feeling.

I'll leave the discussion of cultural appropriation for another time.
 
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  • Reg: All right, but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?
  • Attendee: Brought peace?
  • Reg: Oh, peace - shut up!
  • Reg: There is not one of us who would not gladly suffer death to rid this country of the Romans once and for all.
  • Dissenter: Uh, well, one.
  • Reg: Oh, yeah, yeah, there's one. But otherwise, we're solid.
Pilgrims provided a front line against Islam. See Song of Roland.

The Song of Roland (French: La Chanson de Roland) is an 11th-century chanson de geste based on the Frankish military leader Roland at the Battle of Roncevaux Pass in AD 778, during the reign of the Carolingian king Charlemagne.
 
A pagan pilgrimage to a place that didn't exist? Even if not SDC, where and what evidence. I had understood there has been much speculation about this, and ongoing exploration, but nothing one might establish this with any likelihood. Can you point to sources. I would be interested to know if there has been some progress here.

I can't point to sources at the moment but I'll also point out that I referred to a precursor, not specifically a pilgrimage.
And I'm pretty sure that part of the world existed then.

My understanding has been that what we know as Finisterre was long held in high regard and while maybe not a Pilgrimage in the modern, or perhaps even Medieval sense of the word, was a place worth visiting long before James came visiting.

In my home country, Ireland, many of the "holy" sites (in the current, Christian sense of the word) were previously Pagan sites of importance. I'm not sure if "Pilgrimage" is the appropriate description when sometimes undertaking a journey up a hill was a race or a declaration of strength, but significant to the culture of the time they were.
My understanding of the Camino has always been in that frame of reference. Something built upon something that went before.

There can be little argument that Christianity has built upon many previous traditions and festivities. Sometimes quite literally. A charge, therefore, that non-Catholics are culturally appropriating the Camino rubs me up the wrong way. That's what I was replying to.
 
Pilgrims provided a front line against Islam. See Song of Roland.
Just a little precision: the initial text of Chanson de Roland (written 2 centuries after the facts it tells about...) has nothing to do with Santiago or the Camino.

It is a second version, the Chronical of Pseudo-Turpin, written a century later and part of Codex Calixtinus, which links the raid of Charlemagne in Spain to Santiago.

Cultural appropriation here also... ;-)
 
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Just a little precision: the initial text of Chanson de Roland (written 2 centuries after the facts it tells about...) has nothing to do with Santiago or the Camino.
It is a second version, the Chronical of Pseudo-Turpin, written a century later and part of Codex Calixtinus, which links the raid of Charlemagne in Spain to Santiago.
Cultural appropriation here also... ;-)
Absolutely. And for political reasons ... ☺️. The Roland epic is great literature but as you pointed out the Chanson de Roland was written several centuries after the battle at (supposedly) Roncesvalles - it is not certain where exactly Charlemagne's army was attacked when they went back over the Pyrenees because he had more important business in distant Saxony ... Guidebooks and other popular books present all these myths and all these historical events in linear chronological order, and the reader remains usually unaware of the fact that the myths were created long after the events and for a reason.

Charlemagne had no interest in the Camino and Saint James at the age of 30 when the battle of Roncesvalles took place on 15 August 778. There were no pilgrims on the way to Santiago. Why not? Because nobody had discovered that burial place near Santiago. This discovery happened some 60 years after the battle!!!

Einhard, his contemporary and biographer, describes the event in one paragraph; a transcript (in Latin of course ☺️) can be seen here in point [9]. They were attacked by Wascones, i.e. by local Basque men. Charlemagne wasn't on a crusade against the Muslim kingdoms in Spain - that narrative was developed much later long after his death. He was on one of his many military expeditions to expand and consolidate his power and the territories under his influence.

And this is all that we know, thanks to Einhard, about the death of Roland: In quo proelio Eggihardus regiae mensae praepositus, Anshelmus comes palatii et Hruodlandus Brittannici limitis praefectus cum aliis conpluribus interficiuntur. In this combat, Eggihardus [...], Anshelmus [...] and Hruodlandus and many others perished.
 
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cultural appropriation
I mentioned already that this remark about "cultural appropriation" tickled my funny bone ☺️. Of course, you will know as well as I do that "cultural appropriation" can be defined as the inappropriate or unacknowledged adoption of an element or elements of one culture or identity by members of another culture or identity. This can be especially controversial when members of a dominant culture appropriate from minority cultures. And you will know as well as I do that it is different from acculturation, assimilation, or cultural exchange, especially when there is no colonial background involved.

For example when you return back to the USA from Santiago with a recipe for almond cake and a metal template to decorate it with a pattern made by icing sugar and bake such a cake and enjoy eating it, that's not cultural appropriation. We wouldn't know what culture and whose culture it is anyway: Jewish-Sephardic? Medieval? 1920's? Galician? Cosmopolitan Camino 2023?

I mentioned earlier that the Camino de Santiago, the big one, namely the Camino Francés, has been praised in Spain and elsewhere, including by Pope John Paul II, for at least some 40 years, as this great artery connecting Spain and non-Hispanic Europe where rich cultural exchange took place throughout a good dozen centuries and more, and in both directions, as described on the CoE's website - see screenshot below (you will know of course as well as I do that the Council of Europe has nothing to do with the European Union; it is something entirely different). Enjoy!

(Click to enlarge)
Cultural route.jpg
 
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I mentioned already that this remark about "cultural appropriation" tickled my funny bone
The story of humanity is made of cultural appropriations.
My Sapiens grandmother tells me than as soon as she met my Neandertal grandfather, that was the beginning of a long sequence of appropriations...
Furthermore, for christian people, meeting non-christian walkers on the Camino should be considered as a chance. In Carrión de los Condes, the Albergue parroquial Santa Maria is maintained by benedictines sisters: each week, they come, 4 by 4, from their monastery in the center of Spain, in order to meet people. According to me, that is a good example...
 
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Pilgrims provided a front line against Islam. See Song of Roland.

The Song of Roland (French: La Chanson de Roland) is an 11th-century chanson de geste based on the Frankish military leader Roland at the Battle of Roncevaux Pass in AD 778, during the reign of the Carolingian king Charlemagne.
I've read The Song of Roland several times (albeit in the Penguin Classics translation).

The events that served as the basis for the poem don't really serve as an example of the front line against Islam, despite how they were represented later in the poem, since historians are pretty united in believing the battle was actually with Basques rather than Muslims, as the Wikipedia you linked to reflects.

The poem certainly talks about a Christian vs Muslim battle, but I don't recall it mentioning pilgrims or the pilgrimage anywhere, especially not pilgrims as the front line. In the poem the front line was the forces of Charlemagne who came to Spain, not as pilgrims, but as soldiers and have spent seven years fighting the Saracens.

I'm not arguing against the idea that the medieval Camino de Santiago served important political purposes for both the Church and the Christian kingdoms in terms of the reconquest of Spain, which I definitely agree with. I'm just not ready to accept the assertion.that the Song of Roland is evidence of that.
 

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