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What is a Compostela? What is it not?

markss

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances from SJPP (3/10 & 10/10); Primitivo (6/12)
Along the way on my Camino and again in the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago I heard a number of people advising pilgrims that when they present themselves in the Pilgrim’s Office upon completion of the Camino, be sure to state that the Camino was completed for spiritual or religious purposes. Otherwise they will not be issued a Compostela.

Well a couple ahead of me in the Office apparently had not gotten that message. When asked by the official they explained that their motivation was cultural, not spiritual or religious. As a consequence they were told that rather than a Compostela they would receive another certificate in acknowledgment of their completion of the Camino. At this they became irate and argued unsuccessfully for an actual Compostela.

It appears that the Compostela is very much misunderstood. Written in Latin and loosely translated it is a document that states that the person named therein has come out of a pious (ie. Religious/spiritual) motivation to the Cathedral in Santiago to revere the remains of St. James. That’s essentially its entirety.

There is no shame in not having a religious or spiritual motivation as a basis for completing the Camino. But if you do not have such, why would you want a certificate declaring that you had? Makes no sense. The alternate certificate that is issued in those instances is every bit as much of an acknowledgement of the achievement of having walked the Camino.

Whatever your motivation ... Buen Camino!
 
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Caminando

Veteran Member
markss said:
There is no shame in not having a religious or spiritual motivation as a basis for completing the Camino. But if you do not have such, why would you want a certificate declaring that you had? Makes no sense. The alternate certificate that is issued in those instances is every bit as much of an acknowledgement of the achievement of having walked the Camino.

Whatever your motivation ... Buen Camino!

Excellent point!
 

sillydoll

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For new Forum members here are the Compostela and the other certificate.
 

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CJ Williams

Active Member
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Via Turonense (1995)
Camino Francés (1996; 1999; 2001; 2005; 2008; 2011)
Camino Aragonés (2000)
Excellent point; thank you!

I have had this conversation many times with folks along the way, sometimes with participants in some of the groups that I've organized and walked with, and I've always tried to explain the same thing.

I would add that even for religiously-motivated pilgrims of the Catholic faith, the Compostela is nothing more than a document declaring that we have arrived at the tomb of the Apostle motivated by pious devotion. Despite popular misconceptions repeated time and again along the route and in lots of books and websites devoted to the Camino, it is not an indulgence (which is granted in Holy Years under conditions that have nothing to do with the Compostela or even with walking the Camino), nor a a pardon for our sins (which, for Catholics, requires a sacramental confession in the case of grave sins), and it is certainly no guarantee of heaven! The cathedral authorities and the information provided by the Pilgrim's are very clear about all that in the information they provide. And still, the myths persist. :?
 
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Vigdis

Member
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Camino Frances 2008/2009, Roncesvalles-Burgos Oct. 2012
So that's how it the other credential look like... Thanks sillydoll for showing it.
I rather like it.

Maybe I should say I did not walk for spiritual reasons the next time I get to Santiago, just to have both?

But that would be a lie. Allthough that's what people do all the time, isn't it?
 

sillydoll

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You don't have to lie at all - accepting a certificate is your choice. The Pilgrim's office like to have a record of pilgrims who arrive in Santiago and you can ask for the other document if you want one. Last time I told her that I would prefer the other document and she was happy to give it to me.
This is the Fistera certificate:



And what the Compostela loked like in 1976
 

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Vigdis

Member
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Camino Frances 2008/2009, Roncesvalles-Burgos Oct. 2012
It was meant as a joke sillydoll and Chris.
I wouldn’t lie, I would ask for it.
 

elzi

Active Member
My understanding is that when you get to the pilgrims office there seems to be 3 box options for motivation:
* religious,
* non-religious
* and a box in the middle which I always tick which I assumed to be "religious and other".

I have always taken the religious motivation to mean spiritual rather than strictly catholic, something which has often been suggested, and having had some very spiritual experiences en-camino I feel fairly happy about ticking that middle box and taking home my compostela. I think if it was a simple choice between two I would have to tick non-religious, I don't really see the point in lying, but that middle box seems to do it for me.

I figure anyone who walked it all deserves any certificate (or not) they feel spiritually happy with. But it's true a lot of people don't realise this brief box ticking process at the end of the walk can affect whether you receive a compostela or not. My friend who walked with me and has spent a lot of time on caminos (never bothering to pick one up previously) ticked the non-religious box and received the certificate rather than the compostela and didn't even know until I pointed it out later. She didn't even realise it wasn't a compostela although luckily she wasn't the type to care. She's probably not the only one to misunderstand.

I prefer my fisterra certificate - it's much prettier with a nice sunset :D
 
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sillydoll

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I think a lot of people lie to get the Compostela but not many would lie to get the tourist certificate!
 

+@^^

Active Member
@Sill
i must confess to be having a most unCatholic feeling about your certificates
im envious
i would have ticked whichever box was necessary to get the Finisterra certificate
forgive me !
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
Putting a higher value on the Compostela, and potentially on deceit to get it, the Completion Certificate is not good for the free meals at Hotel Hostal dos Reis Catolicos.
 

PilgrimChris

Active Member
Just a thought.

If the aim or 'reward' for doing the camino is to get a certificate of some kind as proof of doing it or to get a free meal or to show friends back home or even to 'boast' about having done it then may i suggest the answer as to whether or not your motivation to undertake the camino is spiritual or religious is obviously moot.

The original document given to pilgrims upon completion of their camino was not for any of the above reasons :) Indeed praying to God as you leave loved ones behind to begin a gruelling journey to visit the Traditional resting place of St James' relics to ask for his intercession in your intentions and prayers is probably not the main reason people take the pilgrimage anymore :)

Certainly the Church knows this and that is why those who undertake the camino for none religious reasons are offered their own certificate should they wish one.

Some people seem to collect them as others collect fridge magnets and again this seems contrary to any spiritual or religious motivation for walking the camino.

As the real reason for obtaining 'proof' of walking to Santiago de Compostela is only relevant to a minority these days, should it matter to those who walk for other reasons if they don't get a certain bit of paper at the end of a long walk? You dont get one if you cross the Alps for example.

So lets be honest with ourselves. Why ARE we walking the Camino de Santiago?
Then, if it IS important to get a pretty piece of paper at the end declaring you have walked the required distance or cycled or whatever - though i am sure if you lost your certificate your memory of your camino would remain - then tick the box appropriate to YOU. It is YOUR camino! Surely you would want any certificate to reflect that honestly :)
 

Lydia Gillen

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Camino Frances 2007/8/9, 2011 , 2012/13/14. C.F 2015
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John of the Cross, that great Spanish Saint and mystic tells us,"At the evening of life we shall be examined on Love"

We don't need no "Compostella" or "Certificate" to get through the pearly gates, just need to be kind and loving to our fellow pilgrimes throughout the camino of our lives.

The Camino de Santiago offers great opportunities to practice

Buen Camino
Lydia
 
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JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
Well, of course it is "just a piece of paper" but many pilgrims see it as a symbol of the completion of their pilgrimage. In various forms the Compostela has been around for hundreds of years (cf. "cartas probatorias" in the 13th C.) and printed on paper since the 17th C as printing came late to Galicia...so I look on it as another long held pilgrim tradition and when we get our Compostela we do so as many millions have before us.
 

PilgrimChris

Active Member
Actually the Traditional symbol or token of proof for completing the Camino de Santiago for the vast majority of pilgrims was the scallop shell. This would be acquired or purchased only upon completion of the pilgrimage and not, as is so more commonly done these days, purchased in a gift shop at the start of the camino.

The 'compostela certificate' was actually only issued to pilgrims who were undertaking the pilgrimage for certain specific pre-defined reasons and not for the general masses.

Of course traditions change and evolve and whether one picks up a shell beforehand or acquires a certificate afterwards is totally a personal choice The camino is for everyone and for whatever reason these days.

However, the Catholic Tradition upon which the Camino de Santiago was founded does not change. Yet the Church in her wisdom and love for EVERYONE now makes available, if required, a certificate for those of the Catholic faith, for those of other faiths and for those of none :) So for those who do want a momento or token of their camino there is a certificate available for YOUR intentions and/or beliefs :)

There will always be those 'collectors' who will want 'the set' just as there are collectors of cars, stamps, fridge magnets etc etc and this is perfectly acceptable too. My point was only aimed at those interested in receiving the 'correct' certificate as a symbol of completing their camino for their own intentions and not at those who want a "pretty piece of paper" :)
 

sillydoll

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Past OR future Camino
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There were various reasons for pilgrim’s wanting dated proof of the their pilgrimage in the middle ages.
Penitent pilgrims needed proof that they had carried out their full sentence.
Those walking as proxy pilgrims also needed proof that they had completed the pilgrimage. Returning pilgrims had to provide proof that they had reached Santiago before they could join Confraternities back home.
In some countries, if you could prove that you had been to Santiago for 3 successive years, you were exempt from paying taxes for life. This made the 'Compostellana' a target for forgers who sold them to pilgrims on both sides of the Pyrenees.
The certificate was also a ‘passport’ to refuge on the way home, separating vagabonds from genuine pilgrims and in some towns, exemption from paying taxes.
By the end of the 17thC the refuge porter would write down the name, date of arrival and departure and place of origin of each pilgrim. (This was a precursor of the credencial.)
In her paper on “The Origins of Holy Years and the Compostela” Patricia Quaife includes a description of the Compostellana of the 16th Century.
In the mid 18th C the border of oak leaves was added and the picture of the apostle changed to show a seated figure.
Although pilgrims arriving in Santiago were recorded from 1953, no records still exist before 1970 except for Holy Year numbers.
However, it is known that in 1967 there were 37 pilgrims and in 1971, which was holy year, 491 but by 1972 the numbers dropped to 45 pilgrims.
In 1994 the certificate showing him as Matamoros was changed in favour of the ancient picture showing a star over his tomb.
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
I, for one, ended up wanting the refrigerator magnet. I wasn't interested in the Compostela initially, but after wandering around Santiago for a couple of days looking for a souvenir, I had found only "crap." So went to the Pilgrim Office for the Compostela. It was the best souvenir in town for under 500 Euro. I still don't have a scallop shell. Sorry, but it is "crap" (IMHO).

You can save the trip to Spain here:

http://cgi.ebay.com/6-Natural-Colored-P ... 4cf5610c1c

The scallop shell always makes me think of this "Streets of Laredo" ditty by the Smothers Brothers (modified for Pilgrims):

"I can see by your outfit that you are a cowboy.
"I see by your outfit you are a cowboy too.
"We see by our outfits that we are both cowboys.
"If you get an outfit, you can be a cowboy too."
 

sillydoll

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:shock: :( :? :x :evil: :twisted:
 
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+@^^

Active Member
not wanting to turn this thread into another of those bunfights.....
but
i really like the design on Sill's Finisterra compostela, period
imho the designers of the current one fell asleep
i am not a trophy hunter
but i too trawled through the mounds of crap at street vendors in st'iago
looking for a discreet item that i could forever carry with me to remind me of the camino
i eventually settled for a small red cloth cross of st'iago
cute hay
 

daesdaemar

Camino-holic
Past OR future Camino
Camino Ingles - twice
The true value of the Camino is the experience. The compostela is simply a tangible reminder -- it is a souvenir. It is something to jog the the memory and reminisce about the pilgrimage itself.
 

Petunia

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2013- camino frances
I'm not sure if this is the right place to post my question, but it does relate to this very topic. Is there any fee or charge if people register for a compostela without religious or spiritual motivations? Is this in fact impossible, because there is another certificate provided for non-religiously motivated pilgrims? My dissertation supervisor told me that his friend had reported to him this experience some years ago, but from what I've read online, it looks like it might have been more of a misunderstanding, or a statement from an unofficial authority? Can anyone help me clear up this doubt?
 

tyrrek

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Petunia said:
I'm not sure if this is the right place to post my question, but it does relate to this very topic. Is there any fee or charge if people register for a compostela without religious or spiritual motivations? Is this in fact impossible, because there is another certificate provided for non-religiously motivated pilgrims? My dissertation supervisor told me that his friend had reported to him this experience some years ago, but from what I've read online, it looks like it might have been more of a misunderstanding, or a statement from an unofficial authority? Can anyone help me clear up this doubt?
Johnniewalker will correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the whole system works on donations. The certificate you receive depends upon your declared motivations, but as far as I know there is no set fee for either certificate. You do have to pay a Euro or so for the tube to transport it home in though! :D Buen Camino!
 
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JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
tyrrek said:
Johnniewalker will correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the whole system works on donations. The certificate you receive depends upon your declared motivations, but as far as I know there is no set fee for either certificate. You do have to pay a Euro or so for the tube to transport it home in though! :D Buen Camino!

Exactly - the policy of the cathedral is that the Compostela/certificate is given absolutely free of charge.
http://peregrinossantiago.es/eng/pilgri ... ompostela/

John
 

freeflyer123

Active Member
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Camino de Santiago, 2013
Our compostelas have pride of place on the wall now. Neither of us thought of it as being a religious reward - rather a reward of achievement.

Having said that, we were both very aware that we did not complete the camino on our own merits - things kept happening that made both of us realise that we were being guided and even helped. Call it God, spirit or whatever you wish - we both now firmly believe (although perhaps not in a truly Catholic way).
 

newfydog

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Re: What is a Compostela? What is it not?

It is a piece of paper.

It is nothing more. The trip was what it was, and no paper can change that.

I find my credential much more meaningful, as does everyone I show it to.

Incidentally, I checked cultural. When I was asked about the spiritual side, I replied that no one could come all the way from LePuy and not have something of a spiritual experience. I was given my Compostela
 
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newfydog said:
I find my credential much more meaningful, as does everyone I show it to.

Incidentally, I checked cultural. When I was asked about the spiritual side, I replied that no one could come all the way from LePuy and not have something of a spiritual experience. I was given my Compostela

This is exactly what happened to us. I was being persuaded by the woman behind the desk to fill in spiritual, because 'I couldn't have just walked all this way without thinking about anything else than walking'. My boyfriend (who was helped by someone else) got the same reply when he wanted to check 'cultural'. She was right, of course we had come to (spiritual) insights while walking, but our motivations for walking the camino were cultural in the first place. We did receive a compostela.

Newfydog,my credencial is also of so much more worth to me. I don't think I looked at the compostela once ever since I returned home, while I love to take some time to admire the credencial.
 
D

Deleted member 3000

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I don't think I looked at the compostela once ever since I returned home

So you don't have to look at it, it says:
The text of the Compostela is written in Latin and it is the tradition of the Pilgrims’ Office to write the pilgrim’s name in Latin. The translated text is as follows:

“The Chapter of this Holy Apostolic Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint James, custodian of the seal of Saint James’ Altar, to all faithful and pilgrims who come from everywhere over the world as an act of devotion, under vow or promise to the Apostle’s Tomb, our Patron and Protector of Spain, witnesses in the sight of all who read this document, that: Mr/Mrs/Ms…………………has visited devoutly this Sacred Church in a religious sense (pietatis causa).

Witness whereof I hand this document over to him, authenticated by the seal of this Sacred Church.

Given in Saint James of Compostela on the (day) …… (month) …… A.D. ……”
That is pretty religious, even if you are not! :D
 
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RoryGentry

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Burgos to Santiago, Sept. 16-Oct. 3, 2013

Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia to Santiago, April 2014
After finishing the Camino last month, my friends and I picked up our Compostelas at the office. We then sat at the cafe across the street and giggled about how silly it seems to hike so many miles and receive a piece of paper. It is almost absurd to the point of silliness. :) We had a good laugh about it, although we were still very proud of what that piece of paper represented to each of us.

Fast forward a few days, and we are now in Madrid. My friends and I are taking in the sights, and enjoying the city. We stopped in several museums, including the Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Prado. Whereas the Thyssen was a very cool, laid-back museum (you can even take photos inside), the Prado seemed very "uppity" and nearly snobbish. As me and my buddy were in the Prado looking at a HUGE painting with an extremely ornate, hand-carved frame, I leaned over and whispered to him, "Do you think Hobby Lobby has that frame?" I suppose you had to be there, but in that giant, silent room, he started to giggle... then I started to giggle... and the harder we tried not to laugh the louder it got, until we started to receive the evil eye from some stuffy lady in a shirt buttoned up to the neck. (You know the type.) I then whispered to my buddy, "That's how I'm going to have my Compostela framed." We laughed and moved on, before anyone had the chance to "shush" us. :)

Well, I just picked up my Compostela from the frame shop in Hobby Lobby. What do you think? Gold frame, burgundy velvet matting... Is it the most glorious treatment ever given to a Compostela, or what? :D

IMG_4524 BEST 12x16.jpg

I can't wait for my friend to see it. LOL This turned into a mildly expensive joke!

Not only is it something that I will see every day and be proud of, but I will get a laugh out of it at the same time. Rarely do reverence and humor cross paths, but they do in my house!
 
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annakappa

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When we were working in the Pilgrim's Office last month, I had plenty of time to observe people's reaction and comments. One young Italian, who were being attended by different " people behind the desk" took time to giggle and ask his partner " did we do this for religious reasons". Many were very upset when one member if the party received a Compostella and the other a Certificate of Completion. Another man came to me and asked " what am I to do now, what do they want of me".
Given the enormous crowds on many occasions, the standing in line for a Compostella/certificate somehow must have a meaning.
What brings all these pilgrims to the office? Do they really know what they might receive? Have they researched this out before walking? I think that the only honest ones are the cyclists, who mainly and honestly reply " for other reasons".
Some people were genuinely moved upon receiving their Compostella. They obviously knew why they walked! Anne
 

piogaw

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When we were working in the Pilgrim's Office last month, I had plenty of time to observe people's reaction and comments. One young Italian, who were being attended by different " people behind the desk" took time to giggle and ask his partner " did we do this for religious reasons". Many were very upset when one member if the party received a Compostella and the other a Certificate of Completion. Another man came to me and asked " what am I to do now, what do they want of me".
Given the enormous crowds on many occasions, the standing in line for a Compostella/certificate somehow must have a meaning.
What brings all these pilgrims to the office? Do they really know what they might receive? Have they researched this out before walking? I think that the only honest ones are the cyclists, who mainly and honestly reply " for other reasons".
Some people were genuinely moved upon receiving their Compostella. They obviously knew why they walked! Anne

Hello anna and fraluchi,

Welcome to the club of amigos. I hope you enjoy the experience of working in the oficina del peregrino looking at the picture from the other side of the coin.

It was an eye opening experience for me while helping from time to time working behind the counter issuing compostelas. You have noticed the emotional reactions of the many peregrinos who are so proud and happy to receive the compostelas as an achievement in their lives. It is an experience never forgotten.

However there are many spanish secondary students who have walked the last 100 kilometres as if it is a duty for them to walk and normally mentioned that they are walking for non-religious reason.

I am so honour to see the happiness of the many peregrinos, especially the elderly peregrinos, who upon receiving their compostelas, burst into tears of happiness. May god bless them all.
 
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K

karenfromcali

Guest
Actually the Traditional symbol or token of proof for completing the Camino de Santiago for the vast majority of pilgrims was the scallop shell. This would be acquired or purchased only upon completion of the pilgrimage and not, as is so more commonly done these days, purchased in a gift shop at the start of the camino.

The 'compostela certificate' was actually only issued to pilgrims who were undertaking the pilgrimage for certain specific pre-defined reasons and not for the general masses.

Of course traditions change and evolve and whether one picks up a shell beforehand or acquires a certificate afterwards is totally a personal choice The camino is for everyone and for whatever reason these days.

However, the Catholic Tradition upon which the Camino de Santiago was founded does not change. Yet the Church in her wisdom and love for EVERYONE now makes available, if required, a certificate for those of the Catholic faith, for those of other faiths and for those of none :) So for those who do want a momento or token of their camino there is a certificate available for YOUR intentions and/or beliefs :)

There will always be those 'collectors' who will want 'the set' just as there are collectors of cars, stamps, fridge magnets etc etc and this is perfectly acceptable too. My point was only aimed at those interested in receiving the 'correct' certificate as a symbol of completing their camino for their own intentions and not at those who want a "pretty piece of paper" :)

Thanks for posting this. I had wondered about the relationship between the scalloped shell and the camino. Thanks for clarifying :)
 
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StuartM

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Incidentally, I checked cultural. When I was asked about the spiritual side, I replied that no one could come all the way from LePuy and not have something of a spiritual experience. I was given my Compostela

I didnt know what to put when I set out. I put "spiritual" because that's what everyone above me on the register had put and to be honest I kind of wanted a Compostela rather than a completion certificate.

The reality was that by the end of it I thought I'd made it into the right category.

I think the question of result at the end is far more important than purpose at the start.
 

RoryGentry

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Must be a great house & home Rory..........(note the humour part, people )..........:):)............Vicrev
It doesn't match ANYTHING that I own. LOL

I'm considering putting a couple of brass poles with a velvet rope in front of it. ;) :)
 

RoryGentry

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Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia to Santiago, April 2014
I think the question of result at the end is far more important than purpose at the start.
I think you have just very succinctly put into words what I've been trying to tell my friends!

Before my trip, I would try to explain the Camino to my friends. That would lead to them asking why I was doing it. I started answering, "I don't know. I'll figure it out when I get there." After the first few days I thought I was starting to figure out my purpose for being there... and then I learned that my nephew (a police officer) had been shot and killed back home. The entire Camino changed for me at that moment. (I don't want to hijack the thread with that story- you can read more about it here: http://www.caminodesantiago.me/comm...e-cruz-de-ferro-a-memorial.20967/#post-164807.) My Camino became a memorial. The Cruz de Ferro was my funeral service for him. The people I met along the way supported me and held me up in spirit.

So, your words seem perfect to me. The end was far more important than my start!
 
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I think the question of result at the end is far more important than purpose at the start.

When I read statements like this I'm always reminded of the dedication at the front of the guide book that I used on my first Camino that said something along the lines of "Dedicated to all those who begin a walk and end a pilgrimage".

I would check the exact wording but the poor book didn't survive my other half's Camino, when he got a bit wet walking to Melide. But that's another story...
 
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JabbaPapa

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I'm glad to hear that the future non-religious certificates will be provided with better presentation, and I hope that this will change people's perceptions that they're somehow "second-rate" in comparison to the Compostela ...

Me ? I'm somewhat miffed that I can't get a certificate rather than yet another Compostela, but the fact remains that I will be doing yet another Camino for religious and spiritual reasons, among others ... :p
 

hecate105

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
'09 Portuguese Estellas '14 Aurelia '16 St Davids '17 Via Augusta/V dl P. '18/'19 Michael Mary Way
After having our Compostelas stolen on our way home - I was stunned and ecstatic that the Pilgrim Office sent us two more to the UK - how good/Christian/human is that!? As a pagan it had always been a spiritual journey for me - and having had cameras nicked too - it is the only 'tangible' evidence of our extremely hard but wonderful pilgrimage... They are framed in my hallway (not quite as opulently as Rorygentry's!!)
Perhaps if folk are given the choice of a scallop-shell fridge magnet instead they may not clamour for the Compostela!
 

freeflyer123

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
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Camino de Santiago, 2013
A lot of people start off as tourists and arrive as pilgrim - whatever your definition of these two words are ...
SY
My sentiments exactly. I have always felt that we are all "spiritual" in our own way, whether we believe it or not. But my husband tends to think the trip was more for cultural reasons and, for him, perhaps it was. He cannot deny that many inexplicable things happened along the way, and whether he agrees with it or not, his original perception that we make our own lives has been changed by the realization that there is, indeed, a force greater than ourselves at work. Even his reply when asked for his reason for doing the Camino testifies this: having been involved in a war many years ago, and all it entails, he saw his personal Camino as an atonement for the horrors he encountered.

I truly believe that, for people who walked the whole way, their experience would have been even more enhancing than ours (as cyclists) was. Even today, some four months later, I desperately wish I was back there. Nothing can, or will, ever top such an amazing experience.
 
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vicrev

Active Member
?
We're all pilgrims. A lot of us don't know it.
Interesting,steven,I was walking with some French pilgrims on the way to Santiago& she asked me why am I walking, I said that I wasn't on a pilgrimage, I was doing it for the scenery,walk,etc she said you are a pilgrim,wether you like it or not........I still don't understand what she meant........Just that reading your statement, steven reminded me of that............:).........Vicrev
 

indyrem

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances June-July (2013) Camino Ingles (2015)
I think you have just very succinctly put into words what I've been trying to tell my friends!

Before my trip, I would try to explain the Camino to my friends. That would lead to them asking why I was doing it. I started answering, "I don't know. I'll figure it out when I get there." After the first few days I thought I was starting to figure out my purpose for being there... and then I learned that my nephew (a police officer) had been shot and killed back home. The entire Camino changed for me at that moment. (I don't want to hijack the thread with that story- you can read more about it here: http://www.caminodesantiago.me/comm...e-cruz-de-ferro-a-memorial.20967/#post-164807.) My Camino became a memorial. The Cruz de Ferro was my funeral service for him. The people I met along the way supported me and held me up in spirit.

So, your words seem perfect to me. The end was far more important than my start!

Hi Rory,
I'm a fellow Hoosier & I finished my Camino from SJPP to Santiago 3 mons ago. Like you I had no expectations just a "me" time & to commune with my God. Like you I had a very moving experience at the Cruz de Ferro. I laid a stone with my daughter's picture on that hill. She was a very well loved & respected teacher at IPS but she died of Cancer. You see although I'm Catholic, I find it hard to accept God's will when He took a beautiful soul like her. At the Cruz de Ferro as I laid down that stone, I felt like a big burden was lifted off my shoulders. Other pilgrims hugged me, said prayers silently. That's why I can relate to your experience. God comforts us in times of loss, sadness & grief.
God bless you and Buen Camino,
Remy from Indianapolis
 

piogaw

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino frances (05/06 2012) sjpdp-sdc; vdlp/camino sanabrea (02/03 2013) sevilla-sdc; hospitalero sdc june 2013, august-september 2013; caminho portugues (03 2014) lisboa-sdc
Hello to all,

I would like to point out that many peregrinos who arrived at the oficina de peregrinos to obtain their compostelas have problems of understanding the registration form that was asked of them to complete. Maybe this is because the form is in the spanish language. For your information, this form is required so that the information can be inputted to the computer for statistical purposes.

As I have volunteered and worked in the office issuing compostelas, I noticed many peregrinos are marking the wrong box as their reasons for walking the Camino. There are three boxes in the reason for their Camino. They are religious in the first box, religious and spiritual in the second box, and non-religious in the third box. Anything that is non-religious whether it is cultural, touristic, or otherwise should marked the third box.

Another contentious issue is that many peregrinos do not realised that there are two form of certificates to be issued and that these two certificates are not the same. Many peregrinos would like to have the compostelas, only to realise that they have marked the wrong reason for their walks. When their friends-peregrinos received the compostelas and they found out it is different. Then they come back asking to be issued the same said compostelas. Of course they can not received the said compostelas as they walked for non-religious reasons.

So normally when they marked their reasons as non-religious, we normally asked them again just to be sure and possibly mentioned to them and show them the two different forms to be issued. This can also possibly caused a delay in processing a compostela.

I hope this will clarified the situation. Buen camino to all and god bless.
 
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sjhannes

Member
Along the way on my Camino and again in the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago I heard a number of people advising pilgrims that when they present themselves in the Pilgrim’s Office upon completion of the Camino, be sure to state that the Camino was completed for spiritual or religious purposes. Otherwise they will not be issued a Compostela.

Well a couple ahead of me in the Office apparently had not gotten that message. When asked by the official they explained that their motivation was cultural, not spiritual or religious. As a consequence they were told that rather than a Compostela they would receive another certificate in acknowledgment of their completion of the Camino. At this they became irate and argued unsuccessfully for an actual Compostela.

It appears that the Compostela is very much misunderstood. Written in Latin and loosely translated it is a document that states that the person named therein has come out of a pious (ie. Religious/spiritual) motivation to the Cathedral in Santiago to revere the remains of St. James. That’s essentially its entirety.

There is no shame in not having a religious or spiritual motivation as a basis for completing the Camino. But if you do not have such, why would you want a certificate declaring that you had? Makes no sense. The alternate certificate that is issued in those instances is every bit as much of an acknowledgement of the achievement of having walked the Camino.

Whatever your motivation ... Buen Camino!

I would like to see what the Compostela has looked like over the years. Is there a gallery of photos of Compostelas somewhere? It was redesigned in 2014. When was the last redesign?
 

evanlow

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances06
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I've got four of them exactly the same except for the dates.
After reading this I think I might want to claim for the certificate next time just to have something different.
(with a hint of honesty and a little cynicism)
 
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basquelady

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF (2013), CF Pamplona to V del Bierzo (2014), Baztanés, then CF (2016), CF Sahagun to SDC (2017)
When we were working in the Pilgrim's Office last month, I had plenty of time to observe people's reaction and comments. One young Italian, who were being attended by different " people behind the desk" took time to giggle and ask his partner " did we do this for religious reasons". Many were very upset when one member if the party received a Compostella and the other a Certificate of Completion. Another man came to me and asked " what am I to do now, what do they want of me".
Given the enormous crowds on many occasions, the standing in line for a Compostella/certificate somehow must have a meaning.
What brings all these pilgrims to the office? Do they really know what they might receive? Have they researched this out before walking? I think that the only honest ones are the cyclists, who mainly and honestly reply " for other reasons".
Some people were genuinely moved upon receiving their Compostella. They obviously knew why they walked! Anne
I was surprised to hear from 2 people, who live in my town, who had walked with a 12 person tour group from Sarria, that they had not attended the pilgrim office themselves; their guide collected their credenciales when they reached SdC and the group was then presented with their compostelas as part of their final evening!
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
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:
That is quite normal. There is a room inside the Pilgrim's Office where they issue group certificates. Group Leaders have to complete a document issued by the Pilgrims Office with all the questions that they would ask solo pilgrims. Of our last amaWalkers Camino group that arrived in Santiago two weeks ago, 2 didn't want a certificate at all, 3 didn't walk for religious or spiritual reasons, and 4 were awarded the Compostela. When my little group of 'Caracoles' pilgrims arrived in Santiago, we were given our certificates in the cathedral! That was very special!
 

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katdavis

Active Member
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Camino Frances (2013), C2C(2013), Shikoku 88 Temples(2013), Thames Path(2013), Camino Portuguese(2014), Hadrian's Wall(2014), Cinque Terre(2014), Camino Primitivo(2014), Camino Ingles(2014), PCT(2015), Camino Frances (2015)
Hi,

I've just returned from Santiago after walking the Primitivo and Ingles back-to-back. Both times when I was in the Pilgrim's office, I was handed the Compostela before finishing filling in the form which asks you to place a tick beside your reason for doing the camino (religious or religious/spiritual or cultural). I wasn't asked this question either time before receiving the actual compostela, although I did tick spiritual both times.

I remember last year after finishing the Camino Frances I was asked this question before being issued a compostela but not this time. Has the system maybe changed this year and are they now only issuing one compostela regardless of the reason for walking?

Kat
 
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Yep, the gong rings the line moves, then it´s your turn........no questions, no smiles, no replies to any question you have. Just move on the gong has rung again......... next please. But we are efficient. ...........I miss the old way, much more Camino friendly.

Ondo Ibili

Yes, sadly also my experience this time. It was made very clear by the person that I met with that there wasn't time for questions or any kind of talk.
 
D

Deleted member 3000

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After a record non-Holy Year, clerks may be a little tired. As special as each Compostela is to the recipient, it is just one of thousands issued by each worker. They do an efficient, courteous job, often through a language barrier, so I would give them my thanks and not my criticism. After all, a Pilgrim thanks; a tourist demands. ;) The streets of Santiago are filled with fellow pilgrims eager to celebrate each success. I try to seek them out for support, and leave the Pilgrim Office personnel to do their stressful job. They watch while the pilgrim completes the registration, so they often know what motivated the pilgrimage before the pilgrim returns the sheet. Only about 5% of the pilgrims get a certificate of completion, so clerks may make educated guesses, particularly when there is a line. On close inspection you will see a fair number of discarded forms from spelling errors, pilgrim challenges, etc. If a motivation is misidentified, it does not take much to correct it.

Congratulations for obtaining your Compostela. It is special even to those who have not come from everywhere over the world as an act of devotion, under vow or promise to the Apostle’s Tomb, our Patron and Protector of Spain. (que llegan desde cualquier parte del Orbe de la Tierra con actitud de devoción o por causa de voto o promesa peregrinen hasta la Tumba del Apóstol, Nuestro Patrón y Protector de las Españas)

The Credential says, "The Compostela is only issued to those who have made the pilgrimage with a Christian motivation: devotonis affectul vel voti pietatis causa – motivated by devotion, a vow or piety." So its issuance for vague "spiritual" motivations may already be a bit of a compromise!
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Just a couple of comments on this, sorry if I'm repeating myself. Most of the people handing out compostelas are paid employees of the Santiago cathedral. I know that in the last few years they have made a huge effort to increase their interactions with the pilgrims arriving, but when the line is 2 hours outside the door, they know that, and they also frequently hear complaints from people about the long waits. So it's a catch 22 of sorts, if you stop and chat, the pilgrim you're chatting with thinks you're nice, but the hundreds behind you are angry that it's taking so long. I was there for the first two weeks of May, and didn't experience the summer crush, but can tell you that during that somewhat more leisurely time, all staff members made a point of welcoming people, asking if they had a good camino, etc etc. I think that the crush of summer makes the job less enjoyable and much more stressful, so I don't think we should be too harsh on these guys who are working long shifts to process all the pilgrims.


Yes - this happened to me too! I handed the form back and at the same time I was handed my compostela. It has been re-designed, so I also wondered if there is now just one type of compostela issued.

I was writing compostelas as a volunteer with the staff this May, and I can tell you that I got very good at getting the Compostela ready (putting in the date in Latin, the Domina or Dominum depending on male or female, and getting ready with the name in Latin while the pilgrim started filling out the form. As soon as the pilgrim checked a box (religious, religious or spiritual, or exclusively tourism and sporting), all I had to do was write in the name, and I could usually do that in the time it took for them to check the box for horse, foot, or bicycle and then to write their starting point. If the pilgrim was one of the very few who checked non-religious non-spiritual motivation, I put the Compostela to one side (almost ready for the next pilgrim), and then I got out the very pretty welcome certificate, also in Latin, and wrote it out. That may be way more detail than you want to know, but that will help explain why you may have gotten your compostela at the moment you finished filling in the form. The staff is well aware of the difference between the compostela and the welcome certificate, and they always respect the pilgrim's wishes for which one he/she wants.
 
Oh gosh. I hesitated before posting a comment about my experience this past time. This is the third time I have had the privilege of receiving a compostela. The first two times (2012 and 2013), the line-ups were long. However, each of those two times, it was a much friendlier atmosphere in the office. I have tremendous respect for the hard work anyone does in assisting the public. This last camino (this past August), I was lucky enough to arrive at the pilgrim office when there was no line-up. There is no question that the person who helped me was courteous and efficient. There was just a complete lack of warmth, no smile or returned hello in response to mine and a great reluctance to answer a simple question that I had. This is not so much a criticism, as it is expressing disappointment with an experience. That being said, I am very thankful for all of my camino experiences, the good and the not so good and I do express my thanks to all who help me along the way, including the probably overworked person at the end of my journey behind the desk in the pilgrim office.
 
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Kanga

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Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
As a Protestant I still walk a pilgrimage to the burial place of James the Apostle. I honour the Catholic Church for protecting the site through the ages, and I respect its right to set the rules. I know that the crypt is unlikely to contain the actual bones of St James, but the faith of millions is weighty. That place, that goal, does help to centre my thoughts, the walk towards it gives the space, place and time to allow the mystical, a glimpse of the Divine. When I arrive my joy finds its home in the Cathedral, the rituals of "hugging the Saint", praying at the crypt, attending the Mass. It is not a matter of reason. The Compostella is nothing more than a piece of paper but my first was meaningful because of what it represented to me. It probably wouldn't matter what it said.
 

katdavis

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Camino Frances (2013), C2C(2013), Shikoku 88 Temples(2013), Thames Path(2013), Camino Portuguese(2014), Hadrian's Wall(2014), Cinque Terre(2014), Camino Primitivo(2014), Camino Ingles(2014), PCT(2015), Camino Frances (2015)
Peregrina 2000, you've answered my question about the compostela, thank you :)
Both times this October when I received a compostela, I had a very positive experience in the office and was greeted with a lovely welcome by the staff and a quick chat whilst the forms were filled in. The only pressure I felt was by me not wanting to take up too much time with the long line of pilgrims behind me but the staff were friendly and I think they do a terrific job of welcoming pilgrims at the end of their journey.

Kat
 
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whariwharangi

Guest
Yep, the gong rings the line moves, then it´s your turn........no questions, no smiles, no replies to any question you have. Just move on the gong has rung again......... next please. But we are efficient. ...........I miss the old way, much more Camino friendly.

Ondo Ibili

On the day I arrived there were only 6 and I was the first. Questions Smiles and Replies to my questions. Efficient process. But I guess most of us don't care for walking out of season.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I'm not a shill for the pilgrims office and I hope I didn't sound like I was trying to say that people being critical were out of line. I just thought I'd put out the perspective of the person spitting behind the desk, too. For the most part, I think the office is aware of its public relations function in a way it never was years ago. But people have bad days, people lose their temper, etc. I know that getting a compostela is an important part of the Camino for a lot of people and I'm sure it's a disappointment if you're met by a jerk who just snaps his fingers and asks for your papers. Hopefully, the number of those experiences is decreasing now. I think it's hard to figure out how to become more efficient with the huge increase in numbers, while at the same time preserving some human warmth in the interaction. Maybe some of the "improvements" have gone too far in the efficiency direction, I don't know. What I do know is that the waits continue to go for hours in high season. I suppose it could become like checking in at the airport -- you swipe your credential and out comes your printed compostela at a little kiosk!
 

Albertinho

ninguém disse que era fácil !
Past OR future Camino
2013 Lisboa - Sant.
2014 Ferrol -Sant.
2015 Porto -Sant.
2018 Porto -Valença
2019 Valença -Sant.
Just a couple of comments on this, sorry if I'm repeating myself. Most of the people handing out compostelas are paid employees of the Santiago cathedral. I know that in the last few years they have made a huge effort to increase their interactions with the pilgrims arriving, but when the line is 2 hours outside the door, they know that, and they also frequently hear complaints from people about the long waits. So it's a catch 22 of sorts, if you stop and chat, the pilgrim you're chatting with thinks you're nice, but the hundreds behind you are angry that it's taking so long. I was there for the first two weeks of May, and didn't experience the summer crush, but can tell you that during that somewhat more leisurely time, all staff members made a point of welcoming people, asking if they had a good camino, etc etc. I think that the crush of summer makes the job less enjoyable and much more stressful, so I don't think we should be too harsh on these guys who are working long shifts to process all the pilgrims.




I was writing compostelas as a volunteer with the staff this May, and I can tell you that I got very good at getting the Compostela ready (putting in the date in Latin, the Domina or Dominum depending on male or female, and getting ready with the name in Latin while the pilgrim started filling out the form. As soon as the pilgrim checked a box (religious, religious or spiritual, or exclusively tourism and sporting), all I had to do was write in the name, and I could usually do that in the time it took for them to check the box for horse, foot, or bicycle and then to write their starting point. If the pilgrim was one of the very few who checked non-religious non-spiritual motivation, I put the Compostela to one side (almost ready for the next pilgrim), and then I got out the very pretty welcome certificate, also in Latin, and wrote it out. That may be way more detail than you want to know, but that will help explain why you may have gotten your compostela at the moment you finished filling in the form. The staff is well aware of the difference between the compostela and the welcome certificate, and they always respect the pilgrim's wishes for which one he/she wants.
You did your job well Laurie ! You took all the time what was necessairy and even had time for a nice picture. A big hug came afterwards :)
Again the picture of us three in the pilgrimsoffice last May after finishing the camino Ingles.unfortunately I see the picture of the credentials is upside down. Can't change it on my ipad now
Um abraço e beijos disso lado
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julie

Active Member
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2019
Yep, the gong rings the line moves, then it´s your turn........no questions, no smiles, no replies to any question you have. Just move on the gong has rung again......... next please. But we are efficient. ...........I miss the old way, much more Camino friendly.
That was certainly not my experience in June this year.

I stopped collecting Compostelas after the first two but always lined up so that the completion of my pilgrimage could be registered and my credential stamped. That process was made easier this year as the Amigos had a desk set up for the purpose (perhaps that service was available last year but I was unaware of it). The Amigos stamp the inside of the credential but not the registration page as a stamp on that page signifies that you have collected a Compostela.

I awoke the next morning with the deep need to go back and ask (beg if necessary) for a Compostela. The line was not too unwieldy and I waited for perhaps an hour before reaching the counter. The woman who attended me asked why I had changed my mind at which point I burst into tears. She listened patiently while I explained that my father had passed away nine days before I flew out of Australia and that he had been with me every part of the way. I had other Compostelas but this pilgrimage was even more special than the others.

She very kindly asked if I would like my father's name on the Compostela and gave me a piece of paper so that I could write it for her. Underneath the date, she wrote Vicarie pro: (my father's name)

Timing is very difficult when you live in Australia and my flights had been booked last year. I was serving as a hospitalera in Rabanal and walking beforehand but Dad's health started to deteriorate at an alarming rate early this year. He was 92 and we knew that he did not have very long. He died during the early morning of the day that I had given myself as a deadline to change the outgoing flight. I was intending to fulfil my commitment to go to Rabanal but to cancel the walking.

My parents used to be concerned about my walking by myself but became accustomed to it and I think Dad was even a bit envious. He told me a couple of years ago that, if he were 20 years younger, he would go with me. I'm very grateful for the kindness that enabled his name to go on a Compostela.
 

Phillypilgrim

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
C F Sept.(2013) Camino de Madrid & Finisterre/Muxia Sept. (2014)
Finisterre/Muia June (2017).
Wow, I didn't know that I could have gone to the pilgrim's office this past early October to have my pilgrimage registered and credential stamped.
Learn something new everyday! Thanks Julie!
I walked the C de Madrid to the CF, but then only walked the CF from Sahagun to Astorga before I bused to Santiago to then walk the Santiago-Finisterre-Muxia trail. So, no Compostela for me!
I am sorry to hear about your father's passing and glad for your Compostela honoring him.
 
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julie

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2019
Wow, I didn't know that I could have gone to the pilgrim's office this past early October to have my pilgrimage registered and credential stamped.
Learn something new everyday! Thanks Julie!
Thanks for your kind words about my Dad.

I need to clarify what I said about having the credential stamped - I've only had that done at the end of a pilgrimage when I would have qualified for a Compostela. The same goes for having my pilgrimage registered. I don't necessarily want another Compostela but I do want to go into the statistics as having completed the pilgrimage.
 

Stivandrer

Perambulating & Curious. Rep stravaiging offender
Past OR future Camino
I´ve got Camino plans until 2042,
- or till I fall flat on my face, whichever comes first !!
I do not know about you, but I was totally dazed when I finally reached the Cathedral and the office.
Tired, non triumphant and slightly dehydrated. Felt no jubilation. Stood in line for the scroll - I felt I really deserved it, but I did not really, really want it. Only when finally asked, over the counter by the nice and cordial lady: Had I managed to walk the entire distance? Then I felt really proud, that Yes I had - " every step of the way, no bus no taxi, no horse, but on my own two feet", - was so proud that I had made it possible to finish what I had planned, to achieve what had seemed a mere dream after cancer, and now being in better shape that I have ever been.
That moment it finally dawned upon me that it was me patting my own back that meant the most.
I did it and only I knew what it meant...
But I like my Compostela and think of that moment as one of simple epiphany..

I wear with pride, however, two simple stick-through buttons from the souvenir shop on my day pack to work, one with the scallop in yellow and blue, the other the yellow arrow.
If somebody notices it like the family I met on the beach that wanted to go with the whole family; and then strikes up a conversation about it, I feel that I have passed something on.....
 
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JenCamino

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So that's how it the other credential look like... Thanks sillydoll for showing it.
I rather like it.

Maybe I should say I did not walk for spiritual reasons the next time I get to Santiago, just to have both?

But that would be a lie. Allthough that's what people do all the time, isn't it?
I know this is an old thread, but I just wanted to add that I walked the Camino for spiritual reasons and got my Compostela today. Then the clerk asked if I *also* wanted a certificate of completion, for an extra 3€, so I got both. I don't mind supporting the office with an additional 3€, and so now I have one certificate which states the route and distance I walked, and the other stating I visited the tomb of St James. Win win.
 
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