On February 15, 2014 I watched “The Way”. It is a movie directed by Emilio Estevez starring his father Martin Sheen. Sheen plays Tom who is the father of Daniel (Emilio Estevez). Daniel wanted to walk the Camino de Santiago which translates to Way of St. James in English. The movie is the story of Tom who unexpectedly walks the Camino on behalf of his son. Tom goes through a life transformation along the way. The movie is filmed along the Camino Frances which is the traditional route.
After watching the movie, I was hooked on the idea of walking the Camino de Santiago. The attraction was at first the physical challenge of walking 500 miles across Northern Spain from St. Jean Pied de Port, France (over the Pyrenees) to Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
However, after learning more about the pilgrimage, its history, and the more recent accounts of experiences gained from the journey the attraction is more than just the physical challenge of it. Pilgrims are said to experience significant life changes while walking the Camino.
The Camino de Santiago is a pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela where it is commonly believed the remains of the apostle St. James the Greater was buried in the year 44 (after the crucifixion of Christ). Starting in the 9th century, when the remains of St. James were discovered in Santiago, pilgrims from all over Europe have been making the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. They often went by foot from wherever they lived and often over a much longer distance than the modern day route. During the Middle Ages and for many centuries, as many as 500,000 pilgrims per year made the journey to Santiago. In the 16th century the pilgrimage declined due to the Black Death and religious and political unrest in Europe. Until about 1980 very few made the pilgrimage each year. Records show that since 1986 the pilgrim count has steadily increased from about 2,500 per year to about 237,000 in 2014. In 2010, which was a St. James Holy Year, an estimated 272,000 pilgrims made the journey.
Here are some additional resources.
The Way (the movie) – http://www.theway-themovie.com/cast-crew.php
This is the movie that started the dream of walking the Camino.
Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago – http://caminodocumentary.org/index.php
A documentary of the Camino.
A couple’s account of their Camino – http://traveledearth.com/2012/05/13/our-camino-your-camino-our-challenge-to-you/
This site was interesting because it is a personal account of two people’s experience of the Camino. I found the stats of their trip interesting.
Camino de Santiago Forum – http://www.caminodesantiago.me/
A well known Camino forum.
American Pilgrims on the Camino – http://www.americanpilgrims.com/index.html
An organization that focuses on the Camino for Americans
Confraternity of Saint James (UK) – http://www.csj.org.uk/
An official Camino organization in the UK.
Codex Calixtinus (wikipedia) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codex_Calixtinus