Experience The Joy of a Spiritual Camino
There are many different reasons why people walk the Camino, with a love of the outdoors and seeking an adventure ranking high. But having a spiritual Camino experience is still very popular and there are some additional pieces of information and attractions you might want to keep in mind when planning your trip.
With this in mind, we’ve compiled the most important pieces of information you need to know if you’re planning to walk the Camino de Santiago as a spiritual experience.
The Camino pilgrim passport is an essential part of your Camino de Santiago experience. Also known as the ‘Credencial’, the passport is the modern-day version of the ‘documents of safe conduct’ that were given to medieval pilgrims. While it’s a great souvenir of your trip, the pilgrim passport also acts as proof that you have walked at least the last 100km of a route into Santiago, which is necessary to track if you are hoping to obtain your Compostela certificate.
If you have walked at least the last 100km of a Camino route to Santiago and stamped your pilgrim passport along the way, then you will be eligible to receive the Compostela certificate, which is the official testament of your journey. For those who have completed a spiritual Camino, the Compostela is really special to have. It’s the original religious certificate, written in Latin and given out by the church.
Santiago de Compostela
Whether you are planning to have a spiritual Camino or not, Santiago is still the most important place along the way. Pilgrims often feel a sense of emotion when they reach the city and the cathedral as they have been walking for many days or even months to reach this beautiful and magnificent end point.
The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is an iconic symbol of the city of Santiago and also the final point for many pilgrims walking or cycling the Camino de Santiago. Pilgrims can visit the tomb of the Apostle St James in a crypt beneath the Main Altar and these relics have transformed Santiago de Compostela into one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in the world.
The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is also home to the famous Botafumeiro, a giant incense thurible dating back to the mid-19th century. The Botafumeiro swings impressively across the Main Altar on special dates and special occasions and is typically used in pilgrim masses.
The highlight for many pilgrims arriving in Santiago is bearing witness to a special pilgrim mass at the end of their journey. At the beginning of this special service, a list of the number of pilgrims who have been received at the pilgrim’s office is read aloud, along with where they have travelled from and where they began their pilgrimage. It’s possible to experience the pilgrim mass in English once a day as well.
There are a number of important and exciting festivals that take place along the Camino de Santiago routes at various times of the year. Some of our favourite festivals have a spiritual element to them. Here are some Camino festival highlights:
Festas da Ascensión
This festival takes place in Santiago de Compostela, with a myriad of events, performances and parades on offer. This year’s festival is taking place from May 18th-21st.
St James Festival
For the last two weeks of July, the city of Santiago celebrates its biggest festival of the year: St James Festival. Many pilgrims actually hope to arrive in Santiago during this time in order to join in the festivities. Discover more about the St James Festival.
If you’re curious about all the festivals taking place along the Camino de Santiago, be sure to check out our Camino Festivals Calendar for 2023.
Almost every day that you’re on the Camino, you’re likely to come across a beautiful and historic monument or a unique building like the Galician Hórreo. The constant adventure and exploration is part of what we love about the Camino. If you’re interested in making sure you don’t miss the best monuments for a spiritual Camino, take note of the following:
Cruz de Ferro
If you are walking the Camino Frances, you must make time to visit the Cruz de Ferro, also known as the Iron Cross. Located between the towns of Foncebadón and Manjarín, there is a tradition here to leave a stone that you’ve brought with you from home. You can write a message on the stone if you like and discover more about the Cruz de Ferro and this tradition by reading our Cruz de Ferro article.
Virgin Mary Boat
The ‘Virgin of the Boat’ or ‘Our Lady of the Boat’ is the name of Muxia’s best-loved sanctuary, peacefully welcoming pilgrims at the very end of the Camino Finisterre from Santiago to Muxia. The shrine is beautifully located right by the ocean and it has been a sacred place since pre-Christian times. Discover the history and traditions of the ‘Virgin of the Boat’ shrine.
Ways to Prepare For Your Spiritual Camino
The Way of St. James is essentially a spiritual experience and it is recommended that pilgrims take some time for spiritual preparation before their walk. There are many reasons for walking the Camino and these add to the spiritual nature of the pilgrimage.
When we look at the history of the Camino, we learn that pilgrims would make the long journey to Santiago in search of a way to reduce their time in purgatory. Indeed, even today, many pilgrims walking for spiritual reasons have felt closer to God as a result of walking the Camino.
To learn more about ways you can prepare for your Camino and to read some pilgrim prayer blessings, be sure and read our article about spiritual preparation for the Camino.
We hope you enjoyed this article about the more spiritual aspects of the Camino de Santiago and the joy of completing a spiritual Camino. If you have any other questions or you would like some help planning your own Camino experience, please don’t hesitate to contact us.