A pilgrimage is when a traveler, typically on foot, journeys to a holy place of special significance, usually to a particular religious belief. As they walk to this church, shrine, or location of importance, the pilgrim will often find that the route in itself becomes a form of spiritual path or retreat for their spiritual growth.
So, where does the 490 mile walk of the Camino de Santiago take a pilgrim? What shrine or location of importance is found through this experience? Does the pilgrim have to pray and to whom?
The answer is found in the name of the actual Camino de Santiago de Compostela. Santiago which translated from Spanish to English is Saint James. He is the patron saint of Spain. But who is he?
James, son of Zebedee (died 44 AD) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He was a son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of John the Apostle. Often, he was known as James the Greater because there was another younger apostle named James, son of Alphaeus (aka: James the Lesser). According to the Gospels of Mark 3: 17, James and his brother John were given the nickname Boanerges, which means “Sons of Thunder” by Jesus. In the Gospel of Luke 9: 51-56, the two brothers showed their fiery temperament as they called down fire from heaven to destroy a village which had refused them hospitality. Also, James was one of only three apostles whom Jesus selected to bear witness to his Transfiguration. (The Transfiguration is when Jesus became radiant in glory upon a mount as he met with Moses and Elijah.)
So, how does one of Jesus’ Apostles become the patron saint of Spain and the focus of an entire pilgrimage across the northern part of the country?
Well according to legends, post-resurrection of Jesus, St. James preached the gospel in Iberia as well as in the Holy Land. The Virgin Mary appeared to James on the bank of the Ebro River at Caesaraugusta, while he was preaching the Gospel in Iberia. She appeared upon a pillar, Nuestra Señora del Pilar, and that pillar is conserved and venerated within the present Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar, in Zaragoza, Spain. Following that apparition, St. James returned to Judea, where he was beheaded by King Herod Agrippa I in the year 44.
St. James’ remains were then supposedly carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain, where he was buried on what is now the city of Santiago de Compostela. In one story, after James’s death, his disciples shipped his body to the Iberian Peninsula to be buried in what is now Santiago. Off the coast of Spain, a heavy storm hit the ship, and the body was lost to the ocean. After some time, however, it washed ashore undamaged, covered in scallops. This lead to the symbol of the Camino de Santiago, the scallop shell. St. James’ feast day is now celebrated in Santiago de Compostela on July 25.
So with this history of the Apostle James the Greater attached to the Camino, does this mean I will have to pray while walking?If you were walking a pilgrimage like the Camino de Santiago, do you feel like you should pray? Click To Tweet
I will try. In the past few years, though I consider myself a Catholic, I have become tired. I don’t reject Catholicism, however I seem to look elsewhere for God rather than in his physical “house.” Therefore, I have been lazy and at times purposeful, about not attending mass or praying. With this said, the Camino de Santiago (aka The Way of St. James) is largely considered to be a spiritual event, among other things. Therefore, I have decided to commit a portion of my daily activity to prayer while walking The Camino. With this commitment, I have chosen to do a Novena to the Apostle St. James and ask for his intercession. A novena is a series of prayers that are said for nine straight days, usually as a prayer of petition, but sometimes as a prayer of thanksgiving.
My hope is this will help to renew my faith and spirituality. So starting on July 1, 2016, each day for 9 days straight, my goal will be to open my Novena, focus on my personal intentions of that day, focus on the intentions of another, pray the novena for both our intentions, and then walk in reflection of that daily prayer and intentions of the day. After the first 9 days, I will then take one day off before I begin the Novena again. This cycle, (9 days of prayer with 1 day off) will be repeated a third time so that each my 30 days of walking will be filled with prayer.
Will this actually happen? Only time will tell. But I hope so and with your help I think I can add prayer to this pilgrimage. So with that said, I am asking for 2 things from each of my readers. 1) Please Pray for me on this pilgrimage! Not only for me to physically finish but to be spiritually present. 2) I need 27 intentions. Please contact me with your intention. It can be for you, your family, or anything weighing on you. This intention can be asking for help or perhaps thanking God for recent Blessings.
You can get your intentions to me in several ways: You can leave a comment on this article below, you can leave a comment for me on Facebook by Clicking Here, you can email be from my Facebook page, or for those who personally know me call, text, or email me personally.
Obviously, I would love 27 different people with intentions but I will happily take them from anyone who wants to give them. They of course will be private if you want. Just send them as soon as possible. As I receive them, I will write them in my private Camino notebook that will be travelling with me. I will also reply with the date, that I will pray for your intention, so you can join me on that day in prayer if you wish.