A path of self discovery – St. James Way

There’s always this time in our lives that we evaluate ourselves and feel the need to get in touch with our deeper self, with our beliefs, with our faith…

You may find yourself in the need to go on a silent retreat, or on a special walkabout…

St. James Way, is a spiritual path that many and for so many years choose for their own spiritual growth either by foot or by bike. The main objective is to arrive to St. James shrine, the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, said to hold the remains of the apostle.

A famous symbol of the Camino is the scallop, seen frequently along the way and a reference for knowing they are on the right track.

There are two versions told about the scallop:

Version 1: 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.

Version 2: After James’s death his body was transported by a ship piloted by an angel, back to the Iberian Peninsula to be buried in what is now Santiago. As the ship approached land, a wedding was taking place on shore. The young groom was on horseback, and on seeing the ship approaching, his horse got spooked, and horse and rider plunged into the sea. Through miraculous intervention, the horse and rider emerged from the water alive, covered in seashells.

The scallop shell also acts as a metaphor. The grooves in the shell, which meet at a single point, represent the various routes pilgrims traveled, eventually arriving at a single destination: the tomb of James in Santiago de Compostela. The shell is also a metaphor for the pilgrim: As the waves of the ocean wash scallop shells up onto the shores of Galicia, God’s hand also guides the pilgrims to Santiago.

Wearing a shell denotes that one is a traveler on the Camino de Santiago. Most pilgrims receive a shell at the beginning of their journey and either attach it to them by sewing it onto their clothes or wearing it around their neck or by simply keeping it in their backpack.

Pilgrim’s also carry a credential along the way,  which should be stamped with the official St. James stamp in each town or refugio at which the pilgrim has stayed. It provides pilgrims with a record of where they ate or slept, and serves as proof to the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago that the journey was accomplished according to an official route, and thus that the pilgrim qualifies to receive a Compostela (certificate of completion of the pilgrimage).

To earn the Compostela one needs to walk a minimum of 100 km or cycle at least 200 km.

Embrace this path of self discovery and find more abour our Compostela Tour.