2017 is the biggest year for the Camino de Santiago on record as the Pilgrim Office in Santiago de Compostela announced last week they gave out a total of 301 036 Compostelas, Certificates of Achievement of the Camino de Santiago.
Congratulations to all those brave pilgrims who walked, cycled or horse-rode over 100 km into the City of the Apostle Saint James!
Each Camino has its reason and is an achievement.
Whichever way you have done it (with luggage transfers, support van & booked luxury accommodation or with just your backpack and a map), you dedicated at least a week of your time plus preparation, you overcame your fears and each one of the challenges that were put in front of you, you went out of your comfort zone and interacted with other human beings. Even if you are a seasoned traveller and have walked the Camino in the past, each Camino is unique and worthy of respect and praise.
So, we dedicate this post to the 300 000 intrepid pilgrims who accomplished their goal last year, to those who are not in this list but who walked a long section of the Camino somewhere not finishing in Santiago and to all those who have done it in the past and will in the future! Well done!
2017 is the biggest year for the Camino de Santiago on record
With a total of 301 036 Compostelas received in Santiago de Compostela, 2017 is by far the year where most certificates were issued in centuries and shows a growing interest for the pilgrimage to the resting place of the Apostle Saint James in North-western Spain.
The Camino is very cyclical in nature.
It attracts more pilgrims on Holy Years, when the Holy Door of the Cathedral on the Plaza de la Quintana is open. This happens every 4 to 12 years when the 25th of July, Saint James Feast, falls on a Sunday. The next ones being in 2021, 2027 and 2032.
But further than that it seems like the Camino becomes popular when it is needed. In its glory, the Medieval ages, the Camino was used as a way to claim the Catholic roots of Spain and to bring Europeans together through a shared journey. When the Camino really started Southern Spain was under the Caliphate of Córdoba. The French Way and its surroundings from Barcelona to Galicia was a way to declare through the pilgrimage that they were Catholics and would not be conquered.
Today, as we are going through a period of political turmoil and we are growingly worried about the future, as we are loosing our roots & traditions to globalisation, loosing our contact with Nature, loosing our ability to communicate & exchange in a meaningful way with others – the Camino is emerging again. Each year the Camino attracts to more pilgrims who feel a call to the Way of Saint James and all that it represents. Many return to the Camino year after year, having found something there that was missing in their lives. Some turn their lives around completely afterwards. All come home different in some way.
We need the Camino now as much as we needed it Medieval Times.
The reasons might be different today, but we need to know there is good & beauty in the world, to let our inhibitions behind and achieve something great like walking those 100 plus kilometres, to change for a more active lifestyle far away from technology, to accept our roots and our differences and learn from others.
Some might complain about the “massification” of the Camino. That people are not respecting some rules that were invented in the 70s about how a pilgrimage should be.
We believe the Camino is a gift. It must be treasured and preserved but also shared with as many people as possible.
We believe that if everyone walked the Camino once in their lives and behaved in “normal” society as they did on the Camino, the world would be a better place.
Of course, overcrowding on the French Way is a problem (when you are staying in albergues and need to arrive by 12 pm to get a bunk bed in a 100-beds dorm, or have to walk with 500 other pilgrims early morning) but the Camino belongs to everyone and there are ways to avoid the crowds and have a very pleasant experience going so: travel on the French Way outside of the most popular months (June to September), choose a different route (40% of our clients now walk the Portuguese Way), book your rooms in advance and leave much later during the day.
So, Congratulations to those 300 000 pilgrims, we hope the Camino has brought you whatever you are looking for & to see you again in Galicia soon.
¡Ultreya, Suseya, Santiago de Compostela!
Bonus – Check out the evolution of the Compostela, the Certificate of Achievement of the Camino de Santiago, over the years and all the available linked certificates on amigoscaminotoledo-aacste.blogspot.com.es/2015/12/propuesta-de-la-fraternidad.html