Importance of the Way of St. James on the international scene

Santiago de Compostela is one of the three most important pilgrimage centers in Europe. Every year it moves thousands of people who travel from unsuspected places (lands as remote as Norway, Denmark or even Iceland, to countries closely linked to our language and culture such as Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela, Chile, Colombia and in general all of Latin America).

This appreciation leads us to consider that the Camino de Santiago is a complex social phenomenon. Its study is divided into disciplines as diverse as Theology, Art, History, Music or Literature.

It is a significant fact that in recent years the number of pilgrims requesting “la Compostela” has increased considerably. Although we cannot forget the great mass of people who go on pilgrimage without credentials, whose number is not counted but is estimated to be much higher.

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Among the motivations that encourage pilgrims to undertake their tour is spirituality (in 24% of cases) followed by aesthetics, i.e. interest in art and landscape.

The Associations of Friends of the Camino de Santiago played a crucial role in the mid-1980s in the revitalization of pilgrimages. Year after year they were concerned with studying the Camino de Santiago, publishing guidebooks, granting credentials to pilgrims, maintaining the hostels, organizing exhibitions and promoting the phenomenon on the international scene. The first ones emerged within the Spanish Federation: ten of them on the French Way, seven on the Northern Way and another fifteen spread throughout the different Autonomous Communities of the country. However, it did not take long for a good number of them to appear abroad, mainly in European countries such as France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy and Holland, but also in other countries far away from Europe, such as the USA, which has universities (such as the University of Texas) where specific courses on the Camino are taught.

Currently the Spanish Federation of Friends of the Camino de Santiago works together with other foreign associations as well as with embassies, municipalities and institutions directly linked to the Camino (Church, State…) to achieve maximum dissemination and ensure the preservation of the heritage. The result of this is a good number of informative publications.

Paolo Caucci, president of the International Committee of Experts of the Camino de Santiago, assures that this effort has not been in vain and that the revitalization of the Jacobean route has also awakened interest in other pilgrimages such as those to Rome or Jerusalem: “The Camino does not end in Santiago or Finisterre but is being linked to other pilgrimages as a spiritual unity. The example of Santiago has infected other pilgrimages that have resurfaced, such as Rome or Jerusalem” he stresses.

He also stresses the need to begin to study the presence of Santiago in Latin America and create links between the two worlds: “There is a strong Jacobean and Compostela and Santiago tradition in the Hispanic world and it would be interesting to begin to study the presence of Santiago in America and try to unite the pilgrimages” he adds.

Currently there are twenty-two specialized magazines on the Way of St. James in Spain and at least thirteen abroad. We also have a Pilgrimage Museum based in Santiago and a Jacobean Council in which the Minister of Education and Culture and councilors of the different Autonomous Communities of Spain participate. In the holy years, there are many thematic and monographic congresses…

The Jacobean route is a living Camino that welcomes and shares culture with pilgrims from all over the world. Of course, to enjoy the experience to the fullest it is best to avoid overcrowding, participate in group activities, integrate into nature and have a spirit of solidarity.

Find out more about our tours and experience the Camino de Santiago in Galicia in a different way!

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