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Was Europe made on the Camino?

JohnLloyd

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Time of past OR future Camino
Francés (2018), Português (2019), Inglés (2022)
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This meaningful message marks the path as the Camino reaches the centre of Santiago de Compostela, and it's an intriguing proposition, to say the least.

A little Googling brings up a number of articles that refer to a Goethe quote that is close to this formulation, but not exactly as written in stone now.

What do we know about the background to this sentiment, and its positioning here?
 
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It feels like a slightly misleading translation of the phrase usually attributed to Goethe: "Europa ist auf der Pilgerschaft geboren, und das Christentum ist seine Muttersprache.“ ("Europe was born on pilgrimage and Christianity is its mother tongue.") I'm sure @Kathar1na can help us out here but I doubt that Pilgerschaft in the original quotation refers exclusively to the road to Santiago! My immediate thought is that it probably refers to the positive effects of pilgrims regularly crossing the continent and encountering other cultures despite the formidable political and language barriers that existed between its many states.
 
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Yes, that's the tone of the articles I found - a wrangling of the Goethe quote and a general sense of the economic lift that the Camino brought to Spain.

Having acknowledged that, I wonder what the process was like for this installation.

Who's responsible for it?
And was there any debate about the claim, which is certainly open to question?
 
Who's responsible for it?
And was there any debate about the claim, which is certainly open to question?
I've just come across a PowerPoint presentation which seems to be talking about the pavement quotations as part of a proposal for a larger project of literary-inspired street art. On the website of the Santiago city council. Not clear from the slides themselves precisely who the author is or the intended audience though.

 
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It feels like a slightly misleading translation of the phrase usually attributed to Goethe: "Europa ist auf der Pilgerschaft geboren, und das Christentum ist seine Muttersprache.“ ("Europe was born on pilgrimage and Christianity is its mother tongue.") I'm sure @Kathar1na can help us out here but I doubt that Pilgerschaft in the original quotation refers exclusively to the road to Santiago! My immediate thought is that it probably refers to the positive effects of pilgrims regularly crossing the continent and encountering other cultures despite the formidable political and language barriers that existed between its many states.

In medieval Europe, people walked from convent to convent, to study or to spread wisdom. The lingua franca was Latín Vulgar. There were also pelgrimages for strict religious reasons, but the 'movement' was much broader than that.

I studied Latín Vulgar, and had to take the test at the home of the professor. The first thing I told him was about my amazement: Everybody was walking everywhere! We had a great conversation about those medieval forefathers not staying at home, but actively pursuing knowledge in every possible field, and at the end of the hour, he hastily asked a few questions about the changes in vowels and consonants, and I passed the test :)
 
Other creators of medieval Europe were, of course, the wandering journeymen or compagnons de devoir who actually built the major structures.

Les Etoiles de Compostellea, a novel, by Henri Vincenot provides a fine account of their medieval ways and techniques both philosophical and mechanical. Originally published 1982 in French, the English version is The Prophet of Compostela. The major character in the novel, Jehan le Tonnerre, becomes a journeyman or compagnon.

Still today in France such highly specialized craftsmen are known as Les Compagnons de Devoir. Read here in French more about their long history, tradition and contemporary training which includes a working Tour de France.

For a good English account of the Compagnons see this Wiki article.

See also this earlier thread
re the Compagnons.
 
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Perhaps the growth of the Camino, coinciding with the establishment of a separate western Christian church, was a factor in the development of a concept of Europe as a cultural entity. Did people think of themselves as European before the 10th century?
 
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I believe that it was the main theme of a speech given by Pope John Paul II in 1982 in SdC after his own pilgrimage, perhaps drawing on the Goethe original.
A variant of it may have been the headline of the submission which resulted in it becoming the first European Cultural Route in 1987, itself a step towards UNESCO recognition in 1993.
 
Perhaps the growth of the Camino, coinciding with the establishment of a separate western Christian church, was a factor in the development of a concept of Europe as a cultural entity. Did people think of themselves as European before the 10th century?

On this point, no, they did not. For several hundred years after the 5th C "fall of Rome" the medievals still -- mostly -- thought of themselves as "Roman". They spoke whatever regional vulgar Latin their forebears had, followed the Roman calendar, followed the feast days and so forth, organised their rules according to the remains of the empire's structures. All the information and all the structure that set up the terms for people's lives did not simply "fall" but rather remained and mutated very slowly.

Many medievalists argue that this persists for the most part until Henry II breaks entirely with the Roman Church. However, retaining the Catholic liturgy allowed the people of England to continue to follow the traditions they had known and cherished for several hundred years. The medievalist Dorsey Armstrong lays this out quite nicely in her work on medieval Europe and what people thought about themselves, how they arranged daily life, the labour they had to do, etc.

And it's been over 30 years now for me since I studied it, but medieval court structures retained the hierarchies of the Roman Empire too.

I don't think people start to think of themselves as "European" until the 19th C, and even that is contentious. Between being Roman and becoming European, people identified themselves by fairly small regions and language groups. Very small... the idea of being "Italian" is a very, very modern notion that many contemporary "Italians" reject...

Bourdieu's tome "Distinction" demonstrates a similar point about "the French". Apparently the British have never thought of themselves as European... It's all very very complicated, but I can say that in working extensively with people in the EU, I've never met one who says "I am European". Everyone begins with their nationality. Fro there we get in nuances that boggle the minds of more "universalist" cultures. Where I live, white people pretty easily adopt the "Euro-American" as a descriptor... but move 50 miles away and that falls apart entirely... And do *not* refer to Black people here as "Afro-American" -- the terms here are Black, Afro-descended, or Caribbean-Canadian. Drives people "bananas* at conferences when the American scholar reprimands a presenter for referring to the Nova Scotia Black community and does not say "Afro-American".... and we need to remind the American to take a seat...

I've meandered, but it was *such a neat* question that just raises all kinds of other "Are we sure about anything being a set identification, ever?" kinds of questions and observations.
 
Other creators of medieval Europe were, of course, the wandering journeymen or compagnons de devoir who actually built the major structures.

Les Etoiles de Compostellea, a novel, by Henri Vincenot provides a fine account of their medieval ways and techniques both philosophical and mechanical. Originally published 1982 in French, the English version is The Prophet of Compostela. The major character in the novel, Jehan le Tonnerre, becomes a journeyman or compagnon.

Still today in France such highly specialized craftsmen are known as Les Compagnons de Devoir. Read here in French more about their long history, tradition and contemporary training which includes a working Tour de France.

For a good English account of the Compagnons see this Wiki article.

See also this earlier thread
re the Compagnons.
Hello everyone,
When I read this thread and especially about the Compagnons I immediately thought of the European Erasmus Scheme. Obviously for a different skillset, but the concept of learning from others and from travel seems timeless.

I also thought of Saint Columbanus as I have heard him described as the first 'european'. He got into lots of trouble in his travels in France, Germany and Switzerland in 6th century or so. Interesting articles in The Irish Times. I searched (Saint Columbanus 'concept of a European')

Ena in Scotland
 
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Before I asked the question, I had not even considered the concept of being "European" (which in itself opens fresh wounds as a sadly recently-departed member of the political version of the community here in the UK).

I had no expectation of such an intriguing set of responses, so I thank you all for those.

I did expect a more marketing-led revelation, the story of some hotshot advertising guru coming up with a snappy slogan to emphasise Santiago's story as a focal point and a cultural hub.

Instead, I have learnt much more than expected about the concept of Europa itself.

Wonderful.
 
For anyone who might be interested the photo of the quote in the original post is at the corner of Rua San Pedro and the ring road Rua da Virxe da Cerca.
 
can help us out
Since you asked ... the quote (all versions) is apocryphal I am afraid. Nobody has ever found anything in Goethe's work that says that Europe was made on the pilgrim road to Compostela or through pilgrimage in general or that Christianity is the mother tongue of Europe - and it is not for want of trying.
See for example https://xacopedia.com/Goethe_Johann_Wolfgang

He was a wanderer (hiking/walking/rambling), he travelled widely, and in particular his trips to Rome and Italy were epic. If he would have said something along these lines I bet it would have been about the roads to Rome but he didn't. He did write in one of the many epigrams though: We are all pilgrims who seek Italy. It starts with Emsig wallet der Pilger - which sounds rather funny in contemporary German ears but would probably describe quite a few of us accurately. I can't translate it and neither can Deepl.com. ☺️
 
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Since you asked ... the quote (all versions) is apocryphal I am afraid. Nobody has ever found anything in Goethe's work that says that Europe was made on the pilgrim road to Compostela or through pilgrimage in general or that Christianity is the mother tongue of Europe - and it is not for want of trying.
See for example https://xacopedia.com/Goethe_Johann_Wolfgang

He was a wanderer (hiking/walking/rambling), he travelled widely, and in particular his trips to Rome and Italy were epic. If he would have said something along these lines I bet it would have been about the roads to Rome but he didn't. He did write in one of the many epigrams though: We are all pilgrims who seek Italy. It starts with Emsig wallet der Pilger - which sounds rather funny in contemporary German ears but would probably describe quite a few of us accurately. I can't translate it and neither can Deepl.com. ☺️
For curiosity’s sake, I thought I’d check out the translation from Deepl.com. … “Busy wallet (of) the pilgrim.” 😳
 
For curiosity’s sake, I thought I’d check out the translation from Deepl.com. … “Busy wallet (of) the pilgrim.”
It is untranslatable because there is no way to convey the 'otherness' of the sentence and the hilarity that it provoked, at least for me. It has to do with the word order in the sentence and the choice of the adjective emsig which is not often used in everyday speech, it reminds me immediately of emsige Ameisen - busy ants. The verb wallen is no longer in use at all, it means making/going on pilgrimage. So it's something like: Tirelessly with great diligence and zeal, the pilgrim undertakes the pilgrimage. And that's us, isn't it? ;)

This brings us actually back to the Goethe 'quote' which is so popular today. The meaning of words and their associations. The reference given in the Xacopedia article is a Spanish author who apparently, in 1992, in a German book about the Camino, notes (a version of) such a quote, and Goethe is described by Xacopedia as profoundly europeo y europeísta. I have not read anything of Goethe's letters or more philosophical works but I think the word used in those days was Cosmopolitan rather than European and I am rather certain that his concept of "a Europe" (in contrast to competing nation states) was different from what we associate with it today.

It is a popular and appealing slogan, perhaps more popular in Spain than elsewhere and perhaps more popular in circles that want to promote, or express their appreciation of, contemporary Camino concepts than elsewhere.
 
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Believe it or not, somebody actually wrote a book about Goethe, about the slogan and the Ways of Saint James. It's on Amazon and the author is described as a writer who, among many other books, published about the Way of Saint James / Camino de Santiago which he walked, sometimes with a donkey and sometimes without one, for a total of about 6000 kilometres, on foot, through Germany, France, and Spain. The summary is visible on Amazon and I copy-typed it and had it translated by deepl.com with a bit of editing. It is a bit long but I am going to post it in the next comment and hope that you enjoy reading it.
 
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Summary in the book "Goethe und der Jakobsweg" by Rüdiger Schneider:

The quote attributed to Goethe "Europe emerged from the Way of St James ..." cannot be substantiated and it would also be in stark contradiction to Goethe's attitude, which strictly rejects a cult of relics. Moreover, the Way of St James practically did not exist in his time. He met the first and possibly only pilgrim to Compostela at the age of 37.​
What is striking here, however, is his benevolence towards pilgrimage, even if pilgrims follow a false idea in his opinion. The sympathy is probably due to the fact that Goethe himself is too much of a peregrino, one who seeks the faraway, one who, in addition to all the middle-class security, also needs the adventure of being on the road.​
What is also striking about him, the enlightened Protestant, is a pronounced veneration of the saints. However, he cannot be called a secret Catholic, but a person who seeks to overcome the division of the various denominations.​
His traces in the network of St James' paths are numerous, but have nothing to do with the Way of St James [this just means that he lived in German towns that could be regarded as being on a St James' way, was married in a St James church etc]. And yet, if one encounters these traces as a pilgrim, one may remember him not as the Poet Prince who stands on a pedestal, but as a person who was always oriented towards being on the way, towards the pilgrimage of life.​
 
What is also striking about him, the enlightened Protestant, is a pronounced veneration of the saints. However, he cannot be called a secret Catholic, but a person who seeks to overcome the division of the various denominations.
Just yesterday someone sent me a photo of an ensemble of elaborate pilgrim clothes. The property of a diplomat and member of a wealthy Lutheran family in Nuremberg in the late 16th century who made a pilgrimage to Santiago while based in Madrid.

Screenshot_2023-02-10-11-11-19-781.jpg

 
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member of a wealthy Lutheran family
Oh yes, that is one of the famous outfits of Stephan Praun, son of a wealthy protestant Nuremberg merchant, dated 1571. I don't remember details but isn't he one of the many travellers in those days who combined business and leisure travel?

Anyway, that was before the year 1600. Goethe lived and travelled 200 years later. He travelled to Rome and Italy in 1786 and 1788. When I Google-searched for sources for the quote and used various appropriate search words, some of his descriptions of the Italian trip popped up and I peeked into one of these texts. In Rome, he did the same as what today's non-Catholic and non-Christian tourists and pilgrims in Santiago do: He visited Catholic churches and attended religious Catholic ceremonies. I need to read it again but I seem to remember that he even made use of his connections to get a good viewing spot.
 
Interesting read about the the clothes and what they were made of. And perfect timing for adding it to the discussion. Thanks.
 
. I don't remember details but isn't he one of the many travellers in those days who combined business and leisure travel?
Seems he did. I came across an essay which had information about Praun's collecting of art and craft work from the middle east while he was part of an embassy staff in Constantinople. He certainly got around! :cool:
 
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I came across an essay which had information about Praun's collecting of art and craft work from the middle east while he was part of an embassy staff in Constantinople. He certainly got around!
It's actually quite interesting in the context of the long-distance roads through Europe. We tend to think "Pilgrims!" and not so much "Commerce and Business Travellers!" or "Diplomats!". Yet this is what the Prauns were - they became rich through their long-distance trade of goods and later the family concentrated on high positions in the military and in government administration and diplomacy when, around 1630 and due to the Inquisition in Italy and due to the 'heated climate' of the 30 Years War, they who were a mainly Protestant family, abandoned their business in Italy where their core business interests were connected to.

It is people like the Praun family and their business partners who made up the majority of travellers on the long-distance roads of Europe, not the pilgrims - the Camino de Santiago in Spain, i.e. the Camino Frances, may well be the exception as developments were also very much driven by pilgrim traffic - but everywhere else? I don't think so.
 
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BTW, Praun had the cloak made in Spain and it is a rider's coat. I had a look on the GNM research data base of this major German museum in Nürnberg where the cloak is on display and on Wikipedia.de.

Here is a short extract (translated):

Reasons for the pilgrimage

In 1570, the 26-year-old Protestant Stephan III Praun stayed at the Spanish royal court in Madrid and from there began his pilgrimage by horseback to Santiago de Compostela. The tomb of the Apostle James the Elder is located at this most important pilgrimage site in (Western) Europe. The long, arduous journey was both a trail for the faithful and an opportunity for them to ensure the salvation of their souls. Luther had actually criticised pilgrimage. Nevertheless, many members of the Protestant faith also made the journey. Social status presumably played a role in this decision.

And also:

What is known about the pilgrim himself?
Stephan III Praun (1544 - 1591) undertook a pilgrimage from Madrid to Santiago de Compostela in 1571 for reasons of prestige. After his death, his wealthy family brought the pilgrim's clothes to Nuremberg and kept them as special pieces in their own Kunst- und Wunderkammer [Collection of Art and Curiosities].
 
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It seems, to me at least, that @Kathar1na has shown that the "quote" must be attributed to that most prolific of all authors, Anon.

As to what made Europe, I am indebted to @mspath. I think she has nailed it. The skilled architects (as we would now call them) or chief builders and their stonemason artisans and sculptors, mostly from after 1000 CE (AD). The first living example in my ken is Durham Cathedral and a much later (and relevant) example would be Leon Cathedral, said to be in the French mode of its day.

My travels have taken me to Colmar in eastern France and about 10 km from the Rhine. With the larger churches having much exquisite works of art commissioned for them and still viewable, I would add these artisans travelling the Upper Rhine (?) region and plying their craft.

And bringing this monologue back to a pilgrimage, I cite some relevant experiences while on Via Francigena.

My first rest stop was at Arras. At what better thing to do than visit the Wellington Tunnel. This was an extension of the Roman tunnel from the centre of Arras, a further extension in medieval times with the Kiwi tunnellers having the last go (hence the name). The post script of a short documentary afterwards was on the theme of pursuing peace in Europe.

A week later, at Rheims I walked the ambulatory around chancel (choir and sanctuary) I saw a photo from about 1961 of the President of France and the Chancellor of (West) Germany seated in the chancel (just beyond the grille were I was standing) as they forgave one another (!reconciliation?) for the trials and tribulations of the past 100 years (and more).

And finally, a few days later at Colombey-les-Deux-Église, seeing the memorial museum for the same President and an explanation for why England (sic) was regarded by him as persona-non-grata when creating building blocks for what is now the European Union (and not the explanation I was expecting).

In my view, @JohnLloyd, and speaking from afar, making Europe is a work in progress.

Thank you and others for this fascinating thread.
 
For those who enjoy reading original sources, put Goethe Compostell into Google Search. Compostell is how Goethe refers to Santiago de Compostela. You will find two descriptions of his encounters with a reference to the pilgrimage to St James in Galicia: one is with a father and his 11 year old daughter who are touring the country as performing artists (harp playing). The girl says that her mother wanted to go on pilgrimage to Santiago but died before she could fulfil her vow. The encounter is described in Xacopedia, but, alas, not quite accurately.

The other encounter took place in Italy where Goethe uses public transport and travels on a ship on the Brenta river to Venice. Among the travellers there are two pilgrims, in their 50s, from the north of Germany, who had visited the famous shrine of relics at Cologne Cathedral and are now on their way to Rome; then one of them wants to head back home while the other one intends to go on to Santiago. Goethe describes their outfit in great detail and how they have been treated: they complain bitterly, including about priests and monks, and say that Protestants often treated them better than Catholics did. Goethe acts as a translator between the German speaking pilgrims and the Italian speaking skipper who is curious and has many questions. Goethe also mentions that the two pilgrims had to sit in the room where the skipper was and not in the common area with all the other passengers who shunned them.

He says: "Their clothes were the familiar ones, but they looked much better dressed up than we imagine when we dress up as pilgrims in our long taffeta clothes on our Masked Balls." 😀

I had known about this encounter but this is the first time that I've read Goethe's description which I find quite interesting. It confirms that pilgrims were not held in high regard during Goethe's time and that they were rarely seen.

Interest in Jacobean pilgrimage and medieval pilgrimage in general was next to non-existing. It was only later, in the 19th century when Spanish / Galician scholars started to take an interest. This is, in my humble opinion, another reason why the quote is unlikely to be a Goethe quote.

Sources:
Girl: https://www.projekt-gutenberg.org/goethe/italien/ital111.html
German pilgrims in Italy: https://www.projekt-gutenberg.org/goethe/italien/ital141.html
Stone from a St James church: https://www.projekt-gutenberg.org/goethe/meisterw/mstw104.html
 
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