A look at a cherished pilgrimage following the way of St. James
The sun sparkles on the beautiful countryside of northwestern Spain. Whispers of quiet conversations and the laughter of fellow pilgrims trickle through the treetops and sleepy streets as we adjust our backpacks and lace up our hiking shoes. The trail beckons to our small but mighty group of pilgrims; we say our prayers together, and then we venture out to see what adventures await us on the Camino de Santiago.
Also known as the Way of St. James, the Camino de Santiago is a pilgrimage across northern Spain culminating at the shrine of Saint James in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The pilgrimage to Santiago began in the 9th century after the discovery of the remains of St. James the Great and has continued ever since. During the medieval period, the pilgrimage was supported by the Roman Catholic church, and church-staffed hospitals arose along the trail a day’s walk apart to serve those on the journey. The scallop shell, commonly found on the nearby Galician shore, has long been the symbol of the Camino de Santiago. Over the years, those who completed the trek would return with a scallop shell as a talisman and proof of their journey.
Walking the Camino de Santiago continues to be a popular pilgrimage today. In 2022, a record number of more than 400,000 pilgrims set out from popular starting points across Europe to make their way to Santiago de Compostela. Most travel by foot, some by bicycle, and a few travel as some of their medieval counterparts did, on horseback or by donkey. Of all the various Camino routes, the Camino France is the most popular. It begins on the French side of the Pyrenees and continues for 780 km to Santiago. Walking this route can take about six weeks. However, there are many spots along the way from which you can begin your journey, all concluding at the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The most traveled part of the Camino is the last 115 km, starting in Sarria and ending at the Cathedral in Santiago. Upon arrival, pilgrims receive a compostela, an official document recognizing the successful completion of the final 115 km of the Camino.
The Camino de Santiago is a walking retreat—an opportunity to be at one with God and with God’s creation. It is also a unique time for cultivating, developing, and creating fellowship, strengthening old friendships and discovering new ones, meeting pilgrims from around the world who journey alongside us, and most importantly, furthering your spiritual growth, all while trekking across the beautiful Spanish countryside. Along the way, you will meet friendly locals and partake of their gracious hospitality while enjoying delicious Spanish food, wine, and café con leche at the many cafés that dot the trail.
Following two treks in 2019 and a third in 2021, Saint Michael is returning to the Camino de Santiago with another women’s pilgrimage led by parishioners, Diana Newton and Allison Bovard, who were members of the inaugural pilgrimage in 2019. We’ll fly to Madrid and transfer by bus to Sarria, where we’ll begin our walk on September 13, 2024. We will cover the last 115 kilometers of the Camino, ending in Santiago de Compostela on September 18. Each day for a week we’ll walk anywhere from nine to fourteen miles and will stay in small hotels along the trail each evening. Those who wish to attend will need to be up to the physical demands of the journey. Our group will train for the Camino leading up to our trip in September 2024. An informational meeting for this pilgrimage will be held on Sunday, November 5 (details below). If you would like to learn more about this women’s pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, please plan to join us.
The Camino De Santiago Information Meeting
Sunday, November 5, 2023
12:15 p.m. in the Parlor
Led by Allison Bovard & Diana Newton
In September 2024 we will be taking a group of women to hike the final leg of the Camino de Santiago. If you are interested in joining us for this adventure, mark your calendars and attend this information meeting.
**This article was written by Allison Bovard and Diana Newton and was featured in the 2023 Fall Archangel.