Friday, October 16, 2009

Embracing Saint James

We spent our last 3 days in Santiago, exploring the streets of the medieval old town, and generally relaxing and enjoying good food, good friends and the city sights.
I spent a lot of time going back to the cathedral, the Pilgrim's office and the giant plaza, looking for friends and other Pilgrims and sharing the pleasure of their arrivals. And I loved going to the cathedral early in the morning and sitting quietly and having Saint James to myself.

One of the traditions is to go behind the altar in the cathedral and give Saint James an embrace. It was a special Camino moment for me, to finally greet the Saint that I had walked so far for.

I made sure I was early to attend the Pilgrims Mass, so that I could get a good seat in the cathedral.
The Pilgrim's Mass is overflowing each day with 800 to 1,000 including Pilgrims, other worshipers and tourists.
It was quite a thrill to see that even during the Mass the tradition of hugging Saint James continued and every now and them my attention was drawn to the rear of the huge gold and silver altar to see Pilgrims giving Saint James an embrace.

Another tradition is to walk or take a bus to Finesterre, which was believed to be the end of the world during medieval times. My journey was complete when I reached Saint James, so I had no desire to go any further. I did hear from fellow Pilgrims who made the journey that it did not have the same feeling as being on the  Camino; that it was not a the pilgrimage, but just a beautiful walk to the ocean.
I think that leaving Santiago de Compostela was more emotional than arriving, if that's possible. I felt like I needed more time to absorb and reflect on my experience before returning home. But when it came time, I was happy to return home to my family. I will have plenty of time to sit and contemplate the messages and lessons I received from the Camino.

I wish you peace, love, and laughter


  1. Oh Rita, I just feel honored to have been with you on this special event. I cried with you, laughed with you, prayed for you ---and truly enjoyed your pilgrimage.

    I didn't tell you at the time, but I lost my brother on Oct. 2. I am the last person in my immediate family left. We are on the road right now to Jacksonville, FL for a Memorial Service in his memory.

    Again, thanks for allowing me to tag along.

  2. It has been both an honor and a pleasure to be able to accompany you on your journey. I am so glad to have had the privilege, to read and see photos in your daily entries, and in that small way, to walk with you on the path. I truly believe this pilgrimage will nourish you throughout your life, in ways you can't possibly guess. I do know you will never regret the experience.

    Congratulations! And thank you for sharing this blog.

  3. Hi Rita,
    You look as though you have a glow yourself as you're embracing the Saint! Your pilgrimage has been wonderful both for you and for those of us with whom you've shared it. I look forward to further photos and reflections when you return home.

  4. I just got back from "my walk" and, after starting the computer, the first blog I checked was yours. Congratulations! You did it!! I will scroll back and read "your story" after I get unpacked and unwound!

    Woo Hoo!

    Well done!