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Washing a Pilgrim's Feet at the Cathedral

nilesite

Tumbleweed Pilgrim
Year of past OR future Camino
Stage 1 to Roncesvalles (2009), Sarria to SdC (2010), Leon to SdC (Dec 2012), Roncesvalles to Burgos (2014), Burgos to Leon (2016). Planning Primitivo July 2017, starting in Oviedo.
In Shirley MacLaine's book, she says that when she arrived at the Cathedral, her credencial was stamped and a priest bathed her feet. This was in July 2000. Does anyone of that era or before have any experience with feet being washed upon a pilgrim's arrival?
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
2012
Ms MacLaine's imaginative powers are renowned.

The only historic washing point I am aware of is at Lavacolla on the outskirts of Santiago, though the popular translation of its name doesn't relate to feet. It was also, reputed to be, the location of many tavernas and brothels offering one last opportunity to rack up a few more sins prior to absolution and a life of new found purity.
 

nilesite

Tumbleweed Pilgrim
Year of past OR future Camino
Stage 1 to Roncesvalles (2009), Sarria to SdC (2010), Leon to SdC (Dec 2012), Roncesvalles to Burgos (2014), Burgos to Leon (2016). Planning Primitivo July 2017, starting in Oviedo.
Ms MacLaine's imaginative powers are renowned.

The only historic washing point I am aware of is at Lavacolla on the outskirts of Santiago, though the popular translation of its name doesn't relate to feet. It was also, reputed to be, the location of many tavernas and brothels offering one last opportunity to rack up a few more sins prior to absolution and a life of new found purity.

Ha!

Lavacolla is meant to remind us that pilgrim hygiene is important! She is quite specific to being in the Cathedral. If it's her imagination, that's fine. I'm seeing if anyone else knows about this as a practice.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
Unless she hit Santiago on Maundy Thursday..... I first arrived at the Cathedral in 2002, didn't see it then, and have never heard of a pilgrim speak of this.
 

nilesite

Tumbleweed Pilgrim
Year of past OR future Camino
Stage 1 to Roncesvalles (2009), Sarria to SdC (2010), Leon to SdC (Dec 2012), Roncesvalles to Burgos (2014), Burgos to Leon (2016). Planning Primitivo July 2017, starting in Oviedo.
Yeah. I thought of that too - it was July.
 
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David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
Accounts before and shortly after 2000 do not discuss a foot-washing. Some that I just pulled off the shelf to check include: Laurie Dennett (late 1980s), Jack Hitt (early 1990s), Hape Kerkeling (2001), Tim Moore (2004). I'm afraid this does cast some doubt on the reliability of her account. Had their feet been washed in the cathedral, I'm sure these authors would have mentioned it. (I can't speak to my own experience in 1989 as I didn't seek a compostela that pilgrimage.)

While Lavacolla was certainly a historic washing point, it isn't foot-washing I'd always heard it associated with. ;-)

The foot washing place I'm familiar with is somewhat earlier in the Camino, at the Saint Nicholas albergue run by the Italians. I'm not sure how long they've been there doing that, though. Being charitable, perhaps Ms. MacLaine experienced it there and moved it to Santiago in her book as literary license for greater impact?
 
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nilesite

Tumbleweed Pilgrim
Year of past OR future Camino
Stage 1 to Roncesvalles (2009), Sarria to SdC (2010), Leon to SdC (Dec 2012), Roncesvalles to Burgos (2014), Burgos to Leon (2016). Planning Primitivo July 2017, starting in Oviedo.
I reminded my daughters every day we walked to make sure their fannies were clean. I have several 19th c. accounts too - nowhere does it say anything about feet washing in Santiago anywhere.
 

nycwalking

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Ourense to Santiago (2019), CF: (2014, 2004, 2002, 2001). On to Fisterra, (2002, 4, 14).
In Shirley MacLaine's book, she says that when she arrived at the Cathedral, her credencial was stamped and a priest bathed her feet. This was in July 2000. Does anyone of that era or before have any experience with feet being washed upon a pilgrim's arrival?

SM’s feet may have been washed in a time before the present.

You know, one of her past lives.

I first arrived in Santiago September 2001, no foot washing in sight.

No crazed dog gangs in Foncebadon either; thank you Shirley MacLaine and Paulo Coehlo.
 

fransw

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2012; Le Puy - Conques 2014;Camino Aragonese Oloron Ste Marie - Puenta la Reina 2018
The only foot washing place I know is in Lascabanes(Lot) on the via Podiensis, every day at 6 PM in the church .
 

nilesite

Tumbleweed Pilgrim
Year of past OR future Camino
Stage 1 to Roncesvalles (2009), Sarria to SdC (2010), Leon to SdC (Dec 2012), Roncesvalles to Burgos (2014), Burgos to Leon (2016). Planning Primitivo July 2017, starting in Oviedo.
Thank you. I'm writing a book and I need to be able to say one way or the other if this was done in recent memory.
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (14), Portuguese (15), Le Puy (17), Ingles (17), VDLP (18), Lana (18), Madrid (19) + more
Not the Camino, but I had my feet washed by a Baptist Church member in Virginia on the Appalachian Trail in 2014. Plus a massage, visit with an orthopedic surgeon about some foot pain, and a haircut!

In this video: Appalachian Trail Day 41 (starts at the 45-second mark)

A very unique experience.
 

nilesite

Tumbleweed Pilgrim
Year of past OR future Camino
Stage 1 to Roncesvalles (2009), Sarria to SdC (2010), Leon to SdC (Dec 2012), Roncesvalles to Burgos (2014), Burgos to Leon (2016). Planning Primitivo July 2017, starting in Oviedo.
That's very sweet.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
2012
Thank you. I'm writing a book and I need to be able to say one way or the other if this was done in recent memory.
I think one of us would have remembered. I can't even find any reference to such a sacramental act in historic times let alone during the modern revival (praeter MacClaine). I think you can take comfort in absence rather than occurrence.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
Accounts before and shortly after 2000 do not discuss a foot-washing. Some that I just pulled off the shelf to check include: Laurie Dennett (late 1980s), Jack Hitt (early 1990s), Hape Kerkeling (2001), Tim Moore (2004). I'm afraid this does cast some doubt on the reliability of her account. Had their feet been washed in the cathedral, I'm sure these authors would have mentioned it. (I can't speak to my own experience in 1989 as I didn't seek a compostela that pilgrimage.)

While Lavacolla was certainly a historic washing point, it isn't foot-washing I'd always heard it associated with. ;-)

The foot washing place I'm familiar with is somewhat earlier in the Camino, at the Saint Nicholas albergue run by the Italians. I'm not sure how long they've been there doing that, though. Being charitable, perhaps Ms. MacLaine experienced it there and moved it to Santiago in her book as literary license for greater impact?

Perhaps it's simply a matter of conflation more than intentional licence-- she had a recollection of the experience in San Nicolas, and then placed it in her memory in Santiago. Memory does play tricks. I had a milder version of this type of error, retailing particular incident of being invited to an 80th birthday party, and placed it in Jaca at the casino. Trying to find a photo of the casino some years later, I realized that it had happened in Huesca but, in the interim, had directed people to see the arte nouveau imagery at the very different (and perhaps less exciting) casino in Jaca.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
Perhaps it's simply a matter of conflation more than intentional licence-- she had a recollection of the experience in San Nicolas, and then placed it in her memory in Santiago. Memory does play tricks. I had a milder version of this type of error, retailing particular incident of being invited to an 80th birthday party, and placed it in Jaca at the casino. Trying to find a photo of the casino some years later, I realized that it had happened in Huesca but, in the interim, had directed people to see the arte nouveau imagery at the very different (and perhaps less exciting) casino in Jaca.
Perhaps. I can certainly see getting confused as to which albergue washed your feet, but to transpose from the albergue setting to the pilgrim office where you get your compostela seems a much greater leap and more likely planned.
 
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2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
Perhaps. I can certainly see getting confused as to which albergue washed your feet, but to transpose from the albergue setting to the pilgrim office where you get your compostela seems a much greater leap and more likely planned.

I think that neither you nor I would have confused an albergue and a cathedral, but Ms MacLaine has perhaps evinced different levels of perception..... than you or I would have.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I haven't read MacLaine's book, but from what I've heard about it I would consider it semi-fiction, and not use it for research purposes.
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Year of past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
I walked in 2001 and no one washed my feet for me. The albergue at St. Nicolas was not an albergue then, so she couldn't have experienced it there.
But then again, Shirley experienced mystical union with Charlemagne whilst on the camino, so who's to say a priest didn't wash her feet at the pilgrim office?
 

Old Crow

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2014 Frances Finisterre
2015 Frances Finisterre
2017 Frances Finisterre Ingles
2018 Frances
In 2014 I spent a night of Easter week in Carrion De Los Condes and attended the evening service at the Iglesia de Santa Maria. As we entered, one of the clergy selected about 8 of us from the congregation, 2 pilgrims and 6 locals, to sit separately. At the right time, we were led to the front of the church and had our feet washed as part of the service. I found it very moving.
 

Jomas

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
VF many times. Monaco-Lindau '15. Assisi-Pietralcina '17. CF '18.
I walked in 2001 and no one washed my feet for me. The albergue at St. Nicolas was not an albergue then, so she couldn't have experienced it there.
But then again, Shirley experienced mystical union with Charlemagne whilst on the camino, so who's to say a priest didn't wash her feet at the pilgrim office?
Information from the official site of the Brotherhood of St. James says that the Albergues of San Nicolas was born in 1994. It is not written whether it was already operational at that time. But I will ask the person who introduced me to the French way and who is a member of the Brotherhood
 
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kaylfrazer

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Roncesvalle-SDC (2001), SJPP-SDC(2003), Le Puy - SJPP (2011)
Definitely nothing at Santiago in October 2001 but did have my feet washed at San Nicholas in September 2003.
 

Jomas

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
VF many times. Monaco-Lindau '15. Assisi-Pietralcina '17. CF '18.
was born in 1994
I will ask the person who introduced me to the French way and who is a member of the Brotherhood

just for the record. he told me that the structure began its work in 1994. The name that was once is "Hospital of San Nicolás de Puente Fitero". This choice, rather than Refugio or Albergue, is closely linked to the etymological root of "hosting" which implies the sense of true welcome, of gratuitousness and of service to those in need (those who welcome a pilgrim and as if welcoming the same St. James and Christ himself). Over the years it has been included in the category of "Albergues" but for the brotherhood the real name remains Hospital. Foot washing is still a practice in use
 

MarkN

Mark
Year of past OR future Camino
Leon to Santiago Oct 2016
Porto to Santiago Oct 2017
Porto to Santiago May 2019
My wife completed her first Camino in Nov of 2001 and has many many observations of things that have changed since her second Camino in 2016.
However she sadly missed out on any foot washing. She said she never saw or heard of such a thing.
 
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nilesite

Tumbleweed Pilgrim
Year of past OR future Camino
Stage 1 to Roncesvalles (2009), Sarria to SdC (2010), Leon to SdC (Dec 2012), Roncesvalles to Burgos (2014), Burgos to Leon (2016). Planning Primitivo July 2017, starting in Oviedo.
I think it's fairly safe to say it didn't happen to anyone else.
 

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