Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Scallop Shell

Day 5-Estella-Los Arcos
6 hours 10 minutes-21.7 km

Today was a perfect day for walking. Overcast all morning with a cool breeze made it just right, as there is very little shade in wine country.
We walked steadily uphill for more than 2 1/2 hours. Again we walked through rolling wheat fields, olive groves and ever more vineyards.
There was always the occasional shepherd with his sheep dogs directing their herds over the hills.
First you hear the distant tinkle of bells, then you see them coming over the rise in the distance. As the tinkling bells get louder and the sheep closer, you can hear them chewing their way across the countryside in unison. Marvelous!!

Our first stop this morning was at the Irache Winery. They have 2 Pilgrim fountains. One to fill our water bottles and the other is a wine fountain . Although the sun had not come up yet, we all had our traditional drink of wine from our scallop shell that we wear on our backpack to distinguish us as Pilgrims.
The scallop shell has always been the symbol of Saint James. I have heard many different versions of how it became the symbol. Here is just one of them:
When Jesus was crucified his Apostles went forth to spread the Word. The Apostle James went to Spain and when he returned to Jerusalem he was quickly beheaded by Herod Igrippa in 44AD, becoming the first Apostle to be martyred. James' followers stole his body and took it back to Spain by boat, they landed in Finisterre, the then known end of the world.
There was a pagan wedding going on and as the boat approached, the groom's horse spooked and fell from a cliff into the sea. Both horse and groom were presumed drowned. Suddenly, the horse and rider emerged from the sea alive and well and covered with scallop shells.
It is the first miracle attributed to Saint James (Santiago) and the scallop shell became the symbol of Saint James and those who make the Pilgrimage to his tomb in Santiago de Compostela.

I wish you peace, love, and laughter
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry


  1. It looks like another beautiful day in Spain! Keep on truckin'

  2. What a neat story about the Scallop shells, Rita. I had not heard that. I liked the fact that you could have a drink of wine from your shell.. Such wonderful symbolism and tradition ---along your way.

    How are you holding up? Is your hubby still with you? I'm SO proud of you.

    Prayers and Hugs,

  3. Hi Mom, what a truly amazing adventure. Wine country sounds spectacular. I'm reminded of the old saying that we regret more what we failed to do than what we do. I am so glad you made it through the obstacles and training and made this dream a reality. You're very brave and I am glad you didn't listen to all the ones who said you simply can not do this. You are my hero. Has dad said said Gracias Rita, tiene razon! See you soon. Love Heidi

  4. I now realise how stupid we were when we reached Irache without a cup to taste the wine. I never thought of the scallop shells hung on our packs! We cupped our hands and tried our best! I guess that by a week today, we will also be in Estella (se Dios quiere)! We leave here in 48 hours, so are busy getting the last things together. Buen Camino! Anne

  5. HI Rita,

    You are an inspiration to us all!!! I was walking with Susan on Friday and she was updating me on your adventures. I was so moved and proud of what you are doing that I had to get on your blog after she told me about it. I can't help but tell everyone about what you are doing because it is so incredible. Tell Ron I said hello. What a support he is to you. You have so many supporters back home rooting you on. Love stacy

  6. Hi Rita
    going well and thanks for bringing back good memories,
    some believe the shell to be an old pagan sign for the setting sun,signs of ashtarte (star within a circle) and aphrodite/venus standing on a shell may be found on the camino.either way its a magical journey.I lost my favorite straw hat 2 days after los-arcos can you keep an eye out for it??

  7. Walk together, talk together, all ye people of the earth…
    Then, and only then, shall we have peace...

    bravo, rita ¡¡¡¡¡