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The Way of St. James

26 July 2010

Today is the feast of St. James the Greater, one of the first apostles who would eventually form the Twelve and the first of these to be martyred.

St. James translates either as San Diego or Santiago. It is this latter which gives its name to the town of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain, the end of the most important pilgrimage route in Western Europe, el Camino de Santiago–the full extent of which is seen below (courtesy of Wikipedia). The church at Santiago holds the relics of St. James and has been a pilgrimage site for over a millennium. It is considered the third most important site in Western Christianity (after Rome and Jerusalem).

It is no small dream of mine to do the Camino one day, hopefully sooner rather than later. I would, of course, probably do the one starting in Arles, the via tolosana, though the other three from France go through Roncevaux (site of the battle from the Chanson de Roland) and through Pamplona. Those who do the Camino talk about its amazing spiritual gravitas, if for nothing else, walking the same steps that millions of people for over more than a millennium have walked before you.

It’s also important to do the Camino on a Jubilee year, when the feast of St. James falls on a Sunday. That is the case this year, in fact. The real date for the feast of St. James is 25 July, but is transferred to the Monday following if not observed on the Sunday; you wouldn’t observe it on a Sunday unless you had a reason to, like you were going on the Camino or you have a special preference for St. James.

But also, I really want to see the Botafumeiro, the huge thurible that is used during Pilgrim’s Masses. Incense was originally used to cover up the smell of dirty, sweaty, smelly pilgrims at major shrines; since Santiago is the most important of all pilgrimage shrines, it had to have the largest thurible.

(also from Wikipedia)

One Comment leave one →
  1. Lee Thomas permalink
    26 July 2010 21:46

    Ah, wouldn’t this have been the year… if all of the preferred fellow-pilgrims weren’t in transition?! Who can know what the next Jubilee year might promise??

    Gotta reproduce that thurible in CH.

    Thanks, P., and sweet dreams.

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