EL Camino starts in many different places but all roads converge at one point on the northern part of Spain, traveling east to west, about 100 miles east of Compostela, at that juncture, all pilgrims walk the same road to Compostela. I am starting my walk on the French side, about 30 miles north of the French/Spanish border, over the Pyrennes. This is the most traveled and well documented of all the roads leading to the main road into Santiago de Compostela.
Compostela is a Spanish word meaning Milkyway. Legend goes that the tomb of St. James was found there because, at nights, all the stars would shoot beams of light on this specific geographical location. This historical perspective was document by a traveling monk in the seventh or eighth centuries, all as here say, of course, about the beams of light. However, Spain removed St. James' remains and hid them for many years. The remains are now buried in the church.
Most of the walk is on Spainard soil. This is a journey of faith, for most people that complete the pilgrimage. Each night, you must have your Compostela documents stamped by a Church, government office or other designated officials--depends on the size of the town. Your journey must be strictly documented in order for the Church to give you an official Compostela certificate.
Many people who do this journey continue on to the Atlantic coast, to a town all believed through the centuries to be the end of world, as it was known in early and medieval times. I plan to go there, if God grants me the strength to complete my journey.
Are you interested in Compostela? Or, have you ever heard anyone else talk about Compostela?
I'm thinking that if I ever do it it will likely be through one of the several Spanish routes... and if my mom (whose turning 87yo this November) is still alive by then AND is still able to walk AND is in good enough health to make this pilgrimage -- 'cause I know her spirit is willing --, then we will do it, taking the least challenging route & for the shortest distance to get a pilgrim's cercificate -- with some back-up transportation, just in case of a health emergency.
I've visited Santiago de Compostela before, in the Summer of 1993 if I recall correctly; it was a "Ao Santo Compostelano", which is why I travelled the to begin with. I arrived there either July 24th of 25th (my memory fails me), spent 2 or three nights there & I stayed at the Franciscan's Hotel/Monastery: they have one side for community members (actual Franciscan religious) and on the opposite side (West, I think) they host the non-members like me. I had a wonderful experience & highly reccomend it... and I'll look to stay there again when I get to visit Santiago de Compostela some day again, God willing!!!
I'm going next summer! With a local church, but we are going to do the English route (from Northern Spain south to Santiago and then take a bus to Fatima and somewhere else in Spain.
I would love to do the entire route, but would need more time off work. Have you seen the movie "The Way"? It made me want to go so much more. I first read about the Camino in college and it has been on my list of things to do ever since!
I SO WANT TO DO THIS! Time and money are not lined up at this time in life. I will be starting a Master's degree program through Maryvale Institute in January... if I am accepted, of course, and going to Rio for WYD this summer. Many, many blessings on your pilgrimage!!!! If I could, I would so be there!