Liz, Roger and I have just returned from our journey along the Pilgrim route to Santiago De Compestela in the north-west of Spain. In the 9th century the remains of St. James the Apostle were ‘discovered’ in this farthest fringe of the continent and soon became an important place for Christian pilgrimage. The route which pilgrims from all over Europe took became known as the Camino de Santiago or the Pilgrim’s Way to Santiago. Today, after Jerusalem and Rome it is the third most visited pilgrimage site.
We travelled part of this route taking in Burgos, Leon and some smaller towns before reaching Santiago and were privileged to be able to have a Communion service for our group in side chapels in Burgos, Leon and Santiago Cathedrals. The pilgrims we met, whether walking or travelling by coach like us, had come from all over the world and we even met a lady who was walking who had been born in Walsall. The number and nationalities of pilgrims reminded us all that wherever people come from we all share the same faith and desire to make this special journey.
A highlight was the Pilgrims Mass which takes place in Santiago Cathedral and although it was in Spanish with only a few English sections we were able to participate. There was something rather special about exchanging the Peace and receiving Communion with other pilgrims of all nationalities.
Although we took a physical journey we are all on a journey, which may be bumpy at times and the way not always clear, in which we endeavour to reflect and share Christ’s love for us with one another.
I would like to conclude with a verse from a hymn which we sang at our own service in Santiago Cathedral:
We are pilgrims on a journey
And companions on the road;
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load.