What is the Camino?

The Camino de Santiago known in English as The Way of Saint James among other names, is a network of pilgrims' ways serving pilgrimage to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried. As Catholics, we walk this path as a means of personal and spiritual formation, and as a full immersion into the history of our faith, and faith culture.

The Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela is one of three major, traditional pilgrimage sites in the Christian world, the others being Rome and Jerusalem. Having been trafficked by Christians for over 1,000yrs, it serves as the last remaining pilgrimage site in which a vast majority of pilgrims reach their destination by means of walking. The Camino is truly unique in that it has maintained an extensive infrastructure of pilgrim housing and eating establishments. Our young people will have a experience that provides a full immersion into the history, culture, and spirituality of our Catholic faith.

Day one, all pilgrims are issued a “pilgrims passport” or “credenciale” which distinguishes them as pilgrims. The credenciale is typically issued after a “Pilgrims Mass” which is a religious ceremony which celebrates the “sending forth” of the pilgrims. This document is required for entry to pilgrim housing and access to pilgrim meals/menuʼs, and other destinations/activities that are reserved for pilgrims. Every stop along the way, be it a pilgrim hostel, church, museum, etc., has a unique stamp that marks the credencial. Upon arrival in the city of Santiago de Compostela, pilgrims are issued a certificate of completion known as a “Compostela”. This certificate is an official document of the Catholic Church and has been issued for nearly 1,000yrs. In order to acquire a Compostela certificate, pilgrims are required to collect one stamp per day, as a means to verify that they have travelled the route to Santiago de Compostela.